Mar 24, 2017

Hero's Helmet - Book Review

The Book cover, foreground shows a fireman's precinct FDNY 17 helmet and a temple of Dendur in the background.

A SAS Officer and Egyptologist Jack West Jr. has postulated in Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, that the sandstone in temple of Dendur is embedded with a knife of Osiris, the god of afterlife, underworld and resurrection. The 800 ton temple was given as gift by Egyptian Government to the United States, the temple was dismantled from its original position on the Nile, South of Aswan and transported by a ship to New York and re-erected piece by piece in 1978.

With his professor friend Max Epper, Jack visits the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art with permission to use a non-invasive technique to find if there is any ancient weapon buried inside the stonebrick. While examining, Jack surveys the environment and makes note a tall figure cladded in trench coat over looking at his work. The scan reports a knife inside the sandstone, then suddenly a fire alarm goes off, the museum announces to evacuate the premises.

Firemen from precinct 17 enters to quench the fire. Jack West Jr. overhears one kid pointing out that FDNY precinct 17 firetruck is ladder truck instead a regular fire engine is wrongly given the number precinct 17. Jack goes to action mode and asks Max to report on the sandstone as Jack goes near the fire truck. Max calls Jack and says that the sandstone has been smashed and the knife is missing. The truck moves out from the museum and Jack West follows the truck but he was beaten and falls from the slowing truck. Before he reaches the truck he finds out that the commander of the firemen was shot dead and the trench coat fellow has taken the knife and disappeared. Who is that man and why he took the ancient weapon?

That ends the story. As it is a short story I thought it will have a conclusion, but it is not. The author left this as a cliff hanger. For me this books looks like a interlude more than a short story.

Mar 19, 2017

Dirk Pitt

Dirk Pitt is a fictitious character created by  Clive Cussler. The character is a combination of world's greatest spy James Bond and Jacques Cousteau, the author has written 24 books on Dirk Pitt adventures. Pitt has strong determination, intelligent and chivalrous.  

Image courtesy AZ quotes

Full name of Pitt is Major Dirk Eric Pitt. Born at the Hogg Hospital in Newport Beach, California. His mother is Barbara and his father is George Pitt, he is a senior United States Senator. Pitt's eyes is green.

Dirk Pitt works as a special projects Director under NUMA's Admiral Sandecker. He his often helped by his side kick an Italian, Al Giordino. Pitt use to say great one liners which I have already quoted in book reviews.

Dirk Pitt adventures were made into movies, Raise the Titanic! was released in 1980 and Sahara was released in 2005. Both movies are a disappointment for Dirk Pitt fans. Richard Jordan and Mathew McConaughey played Dirk Pitt characters in Raise the Titanic! and Sahara respectively. 

Image courtesy IMDB website

Clive Cussler Books Dirk Pitt Series collection arranged in year wise.

Book Name
Year of Publication
Dirk Pitt Series
Inca Gold
Shock Wave
Flood Tide
Atlantis Found
Valhalla Rising
Black Wind
Treasure of Khan
Arctic Drift
Crescent Dawn
Poseidon's Arrow
Havana Storm

Of these I have read Inca Gold, Trojan Odyssey, Raise the Titanic, Pacific Vortex, The Mediterranean Caper, Iceberg. 

I have already reviewed Trojan Odyssey, Raise the Titanic!, Pacific Vortex, The Mediterranean Caper and Iceberg which are highlighted in the above tabular column.

Mar 17, 2017

The Lost Book Of Wonders - Book Review

I received this Kindle edition through Netgalley.

"The Lost Book of Wonders written by Chad Brecher has exciting plot line, is a fast paced novel with fantastic characterization and superb narration".

The story opens in Venice, 15th April 1355, as Domenico secretly takes a metal chest to hand over it to his Captain. But he finds that his captain is dead and he been followed. Domenico drowns the metal chest before he dies.

Present day in Venice an engineer Pietro Zeno finds the metal chest and hands it to Dr.Bernardo Gozzi Director of Biblioteca Marciana Library. The story shifts to Mosul, Iraq, as the members of MART (Mesopotamian Antiquity Recovery Team) Eleanor Griffin and  Gordon Russell tries to meet Security chief at the National Museum, Hamzi Hussein. Before the secret meeting he was killed and his son hands over a box, the place explodes and Gordon Russell gives the box to Eleanor before he too dies. She interprets that the box is cursed. The metal chest in Venice and the box in Mosul are inter connected.

Alexander Stone is an assistant to a medievalist Kenneth Graham. In a convention Alex meets Eleanor and then the mystery of the cursed box is revealed. Eleanor contacts Dr.Gozzi. They travel to Italy. Same time Pietro and Gozzi are killed. Before Gozzi dies he sends a cryptic message to Eleanor email. After coming to know Gozzi's murder Eleanor decodes the message and the adventure takes a mega twist. Unknown to them the secret society "Order of the Christ" and "Darkhad" are behind them, they have one helping hand, Redmund Clay a reclusive pharmaceutical mogul, and they are not sure who to trust.

As the story progresses many characters are introduced which helps to increase the pace of the story and densely weaving the mystery element. What is in the metal chest and the box, what it has to do with Fra Mauro map, why the secret society is trying to kill them all these are revealed in the last half of the novel. 

Fra Mauro map showing Garden of Eden in the lower left side

The author has cleverly written most of the chapters ending with cliff hanger so as to make us to read the next chapter without giving a break. The back story of Eleanor, Clay's determination, his sacrifice, and lastly an academician and not an adventurer, logical Alexander Stone are worth mentioning.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book and also spent couple of hours in internet in reading the related story element. I was amazed at the work of Chad on his expertise in Marco Polo, Venice and Mongolia and also mixing the historical fact with fiction.

And finally I like to quote the opening of the book:

…because there are many great and strange things in his book, which are reckoned past all credence, he was asked by his friends on his death bed to correct it by removing everything that went beyond the facts. To which his reply was that he had not told one half of what he had actually seen.

Dominican friar Jacopo d'Acqui, Imago Mundi, on the death bed of Marco Polo.

All the images posted here are from wikipedia.