May 23, 2017

The Baker Street Four Vol. 1 - Review

I requested for a copy of a graphic novel, The Baker Street Four Volume 1 in Net galley. I thank Net galley and Insight editions for fulfilling my wish.

The graphic novel "The Baker Street Four" is about the adventures of Sherlock Holmes unofficial force called Baker Street Irregulars. The book has two stories one is "The Blue Curtain" and the second is "The Rabukin Case". 


The Blue Curtain:

Chubby Charlie, acrobatic and energetic Tom, Billy and a feline are the Baker street irregulars. Tom's girlfriend Betty is kidnapped in front of his eyes. Tom along with his friends reach Door No.221B to find out that their master Sherlock Holmes has gone to crack a case in Surrey. Tom had glanced at the kidnapper who had a unique tattoo on his hand that of crowned skull with two roses. As they are tutored by Holmes they start to investigate. Did they save Betty?  


The Rabukin Case:

The story involves one of the Russian refugee an idealist Viktor Rabukin falsely arrested for killing O' Sally and believed to be new Jack The Ripper. His lover Katya Ivanova try to get the help of Sherlock Holmes on the way she was to be killed by some Russians but the timely intervention by our irregulars saves Katya. She comes to know that Sherlock has left for Austria in search for a stolen Stradivarius. Katya narrates her story that they are from Saint Petersburg, Russia and they are supporters of Socialist revolution. Like others they tried to escape from the clutches of Okhrana (The Russian Tsarist secret police) and stayed some time in France but Okhrana was behind them so they came to London, here Viktor gave speeches about the prospect of planning a future Russian revolution from England. Two days later Viktor was taken into custody as evidence of murder found in the attic room.

After hearing the sad story and their love of murdered O' Sally they convince Katya that they will investigate as they are assistants to Sherlock Holmes.

Did they find out who the real culprit in planting the evidence in Viktor's attic room? Did they found who is the real new Jack the ripper? all are answered in the remaining pages of the novel.

Sample images from the graphic novel The Baker Street Four

First I have to mention the artwork, it is rich in exhibiting Victorian era buildings, costumes, horse carriages etc. The action scenes are awesome, the acrobatic stunts of Tom are nicely done. The panels are breathtaking and the plot line is good. The characters Tom and Billy make fun of each other which often ends in fisticuffs but their friendship and mutual understanding never gets affected. Charlie is a girl, on advice of Holmes she disguises as a boy. The cat a small character often seen with them helps the three in dire situations. I loved these characters and awaiting to see their next adventure.

May 21, 2017

Knoll - Book Review


Columbus William McIntyre a special prosecutor in Junction city, son of a murdered cop who plans for running Shale county primary election for District Attorney, on one fateful day he gets a call from his friend Rick Van Pelt a detective at the Junction City Police Department and he hands over an old file to McIntyre. 

Knoll Book cover and the author Stephen Hillard
 
It is a personal file of his father Dean McIntyre, in the final pages he had hand-written a para which reads "For what I did in Dallas, they will find me. Carlos Marcello, his lapdog Mike Maroon. That prick Louie".

Without knowing the consequences McIntyre goes in search for the truth. Banner McCoy, Ex-NSA, fugitive spy, author of spyflow.com, whose project at TCC was called KNOLL, a project to utilize all available resources to gather evidence and resolve questions regarding the assassination of JFK. But in truth it is to destroy any remaining evidence of the conspiracy. These two character tales goes side by side.

What happens to them is the remaining part of the story? The author has well written the difficulties and sufferings of McIntyre's ordeal and an unexpected help from his guardian angel at the end makes this a good read.

At first I was unable to grasp the flow and had a hard time to understand McIntyre and McCoy. The story is told in first person account by McIntyre and Banner McCoy and shifts to third person when it comes to Calagero Minacore aka Carlos Marcello and his one time associate Louie Diamond. The climax and ending are super fast with vivid presentation it looked like watching a movie.

Like myself this book is recommended to JFK conspiracy theory buffs. The book as much information about a white Chevy, radio recording and a aerial photo taken before Kennedy assassination. 


I received this copy from Net galley and I thank net galley and FSB Associates, LLC for giving me a chance to read and review this novel.
 

May 12, 2017

Airborne - Book Review

Mesmerized by the cover of the book I requested for the copy through Net galley. I did not read the blurb. This novel is part one of Airborne trilogy, the story involves the life of three main characters paratrooper Theo Trickey, Medical Officer Captain Daniel Garland and Erwin Rommel (the desert fox).


The story starts in Ulm a small city on the Danube where prisoners of war Captain Daniel Garland along with captured 1st airborne Division. There he saves a gravely wounded paratrooper Theo. The story deviates from the battle to the life of Theo's childhood in Bolzano, his British father and South Tyrol mother, their fight against the right for branding them as Italian/German. Theo loses his father early and he is guided by his great grandfather and grandfather. Later Theo moves to England where he gets the chance to learn and sign up for the army and also a chance of meeting with Erwin Rommel who asked him to "make a decision" the words often popped out to Theo whenever he was confused, one for his ethnicity who he had to fight against, second for choosing as a paratrooper and thirdly almost working as a spy for England. His stint in army was first a failure until someone gives another chance to become a paratrooper. His success in damaging Trargino Aqueduct and getting the confidence from a group who have no command structure, no organization no relevant skills or weapons, fighting against Mussolini.

Waves of paratroops land in Holland (Image source Wikipedia)

Subsequently the author narrates the story from Garland point of view, a medical officer who entered the war voluntarily, his visions of the war and his service to the patients which are beautifully narrated for instance how Garland coped with stench of cordite, blood, suppuration and smell of sewage and never ending procession of incoming stretchers with mutilated soldiers. How he looked the war torn places, from his own words, onslaught of artillery bombardment, passing through damaged buildings having few windows, roofless buildings, showing gaping holes buildings consumed by raging fire, streets littered with wreckage and debris, burned out army vehicles, fallen telegraph poles, smashed trees, shell craters, mounds of rubble on the streets, aptly showed the desolation of the war. Like his colleagues he was expecting the victorious entry of 30 Corps for their salvation but 30 Corps was unable to advance north, Dreadfully injured Theo is unconscious but his will power drives him to be alive. While treating in Stalag XI-B, Garland is transferred to Stalag 357 where he enjoys some freedom. 

Aerial view of the bridge over the Neder Rijn, Arnhem (Image source Wikipedia)

The story ends when Garland preparing to escape from Stalag 357 and Erwin Rommel in Africa.

The book is around 300 pages, fast paced and I enjoyed thoroughly reading this novel and I anxiously waiting for the second part. Fans who are interested in Second World War will surely like this novel. While reading this book I ordered a paperback of Robert Radcliffe's Under An English Heaven. 

May 4, 2017

Abattoir Of Dreams–Book Review

Dear Mark,

I have read your first two novels, The Revelation Room and The Eyes of the Accused. I liked your writing style and your trademark approach in character presentation with a tinge of dark humour.

abbatoir-of-dreams

The third book is Abattoir of Dreams which is not Ben Whittle investigation series and I purchased that book. As usual you did not disappoint me. I know how gruesome your villain characters are I cannot forget Edward Ebb from The Revelation Room and not to mention the name since it will be a spoiler “the target” in The Eyes of the accused. I expected such a character in Abattoir of Dreams as the story starts from Michael Tate who is in the hospital undergoing treatment after a failed suicide attempt, suffering from amnesia, paralysis and believed to be Becky Marie Coombs murderer.

Right from the start you made me ponder over the accused character Michael Tate, is he a murderer? is he innocent? Tate tells to the nurse that he can see an emergency door in the wall written with blood red letters, really is he a nut? why no family members visited him? As the story progress I was awestruck with your brilliance of using the characters Detective Inspector Carver and Michael’s friend to twist and mystify the plot further. What a storyline!  what a flow! non stop roller coaster ride.

The story becomes more disturbing when Michael childhood is revealed, how pathetic his life turned into. Of the all the characters you used I liked Liam Truman and the dog Oxo.

I feel little bit ashamed to tell you the truth that after reading some sentimental novel tears may welled up but I have not cried. Mark you made me cry not once, not twice but thrice. I closed my kindle and cried out after reading the chapters on Michael mother’s death, second when he leaves Oxo to Woodside Children’s home and third after the climax.

I like to mention about the use of a ghost in the story and making me think who the ghost should be. This book deserves to be filmed and five star rating is not enough.

If I made to compare the best works from your three books, certainly I will choose this book The Abattoir of Dreams.

Apr 30, 2017

Vindolanda - Book Review

While browsing Net galley for historical fiction books, first I skipped "Vindolanda" second time the name of the author Adrian Goldsworthy made me to stop and requested for a copy. Some of his works include The Complete Roman Army, Caesar: The Life of a Colossus, In the Name of Rome: The Men who won the Roman Empire and Augustus: From Revolutionary to Emperor, which are in my reading list.


Image ownership: Photograph D.Woolliscroft, © Vindolanda Trust

Tablet for the birthday invitation (From www.csad.ox.ac.uk)

The author has mentioned in the end of the story that a wooden tablet, a birthday invitation written by Claudia Severa to Sulpicia Lepidina is the inspiration for the novel.

I provide the image and the translation of the wooden tablet from vindolanda.csad.ox.ac.uk website.

"Claudia Severa to her Lepidina greetings. On 11 September, sister, for the day of the celebration of my birthday, I give you a warm invitation to make sure that you come to us, to make the day more enjoyable for me by your arrival, if you are present (?). Give my greetings to your Cerialis. My Aelius and my little son send him (?) their greetings. (2nd hand) I shall expect you, sister. Farewell, sister, my dearest soul, as I hope to prosper, and hail. (Back, 1st hand) To Sulpicia Lepidina, wife of Cerialis, from Severa." 

The story takes place in AD 98, Britain under the rule of Rome. The place Vindolanda, modern name Chesterholm. Vindex, a noble warrior of the Carvetti and the leader of their scouts informs Titus Flavius Ferox, centurio regionarius, seconded from Legio II Augusta (Prince of Silures) about the warring tribes plundering forts. Ferox with a small army reaches in time and saves a woman named Sulpicia Lepidina wife of Prefect Flavius Cerialis the new commander of the Ninth Batavians.  Subsequently they safely takes her to Cerialis and Tribune Crispinus. Though the attack appears to be a cattle raid by the tribes Ferox had doubts.

Tribune Crispinus and Ferox undertakes journey to meet the tribes and get their goodwill and support for their new emperor Trajan. Most of the tribes showed their loyalty but Ferox was not sure about Tincommius – Land of the High King who is an intelligent leader. During the feast arranged by Tincommius one priest Stallion attends lately and criticizes the Romans. With rage Stallion tries to kill the Romans and Tincommius interferes.

Ferox and Vindex leave early and reaches Vindolanda and comes to know that Stallion and his men have kidnapped and killed a lady who they taught of royal birth. While Tribune and their army reaches Vindolanda the rebel tribes under Stallion's speech have taken their weapon to fight against the Romans. Thousands of men against 100s of Roman army.

Did Ferox  plan worked? Who is behind Stallion? Did Tincommius who had collected vast amount of weapons sided with Rome or Stallion? all of these questions are answered in last chapter.

The author has mentioned that he took more freedom and did his best to reconstruct the story for the purposes in a way that the story never conflicts with any hard evidence found in the excavation of Vindolanda. Adrian has given a detailed account of the equipments of the Roman army, its organisation, its command structures, the tactics it employed, the ranks and routines involved.

All these days while reading the book I was with Ferox and Vindex traveling through the mountains of northern frontier of Britannia, the description of the land, the weather, the people and their customs made me feel as I was transported back to 1st century AD.

With vivid description of battle scenes like men yelling, swords striking the mail armour, hacking and stabbing, shields pounding on shields, sounds of swords striking over the flesh and bone, I felt I was actually taking part in the battle and looking at the horrors. I think the author narration has filled around 50 or so pages on the battle alone.

Those who like Roman history and historical fiction should never miss this book.

I like to quote some lines from the novel:

Do not waste rage. Nurture it, cherish it and use the strength it gives. Hot anger gets a man killed. Cold anger will put the other man in the earth.

Augustus described, fighting a needless war is like a man fishing with a golden hook, where no possible gain justified the risk.

A prophet cannot survive when his miracle fails.

Apr 20, 2017

Continuity of the Parks - Review

It is a short story written by Julio Cort├ízar Descotte, an Argentine Author. The story has three characters one is the reader, second is the man and third the woman. 
A man (the reader) picks up the novel he had started reading couple of days back. As he is a busy, he finishes all his business matters and settles in his favourite green armchair which faces an oak tree park and he immerse in the novel. The story in the novel, a woman arrives first then a man who is passionate and also emotional comes next to meet her, his face cut by the backlash of a branch. She kisses the blood stained face but he rebuff her caresses and they have lustful panting dialogues. They part ways, the woman going north and the man with a knife going south, he traces the avenue of trees and comes to the house of the woman's husband. As planned he crosses the hall, gets up the stairs, he enters the first room and second room which are empty and finds a door to the salon, he sees her husband reading the novel sitting in the green armchair. The story ends. 

Representation of the short story in image

Above image of uroboros, a snake eating itself, having no beginning and no end, Julio Cort├ízar has a vivid imagination and wonderful use of words, he masterfully blends the reality and fiction. The reality is the reader, the story in the novel which he reads is fiction and inside the story two fictional characters the man and the woman who plans to kills her husband who is sitting in the green armchair. Amazing talent in using words, the author makes us to miss the significant part of changing the track from reality to fiction. 

We imagine that the fictional tale and the reader who is reading the novel are connected as the author has used the green armchair and oak tree park with fictional man possessing a knife coming to murder the person sitting in the green armchair which is overlooking trees.

So beautifully written, on the first read I cannot understand and little bit confused after reading for the second and third time I was able to comprehend the tale.