May 29, 2017

Wayne And Ford - Book Review

I am a fan of MGR a matinee idol from Tamil Nadu, India, actor turned politician and a philanthropist who is often compared with John Wayne's box office draw. Both the actors in their movies portrayed the same qualities needed to the people in those era. The title of the book "Wayne and Ford: The Films, the Friendship and the Forging of an American Hero" and the image of Wayne stylishly holding a gun made me to request in Net galley, and I have to thank net galley and Doubleday books for giving me an opportunity to read and review.

(Image from willmckinley.files.wordpress)

The author has mentioned the inspiration she got is from her father Lieutenant Commander Sigmund B.Schoenberger, who is a John Wayne and Western fan, a military officer and a test pilot and who lived the code of masculinity that John Ford and John Wayne created in the movies.

She narrates the life of both director John Ford and Marion Morrison the scenery mover later famously known as John Wayne. The author not only mentioned the life story but also exceptionally quoted their personal and professional relationship on and off screen.

Nancy also cited the psychologist Robert Brannon's markers of manhood which men must acquire to earn the approval of other men that is what Ford and John Wayne's movie characters exhibited.
1. One may never do anything that even suggests femininity.
2. Masculinity is measured by power, success, wealth and status.
3. A man depends on never showing your emotions at all. Boys don't cry.
4. Exude an aura of manly daring and aggression.

(Image from John Wayne forum)

It is their friendship that made my eyes glistened that Ford who is also a mean boss cared for John Wayne when he worked with other directors and he himself came to the shooting spot to help John Wayne in completing his directorial debut movie "The Alamo". 

                                                              (Image from site)
The author has vividly described the movies, characters and also bullying approach of director Ford how he teases Henry Fonda, John Wayne etc. on the set. She also written up to the end of their life their last days, I was amazed at their similarity that both died of stomach cancer. 

The book has some beautiful images of Wayne and Ford and their movies. The articles and notes given in the end is huge resource and the book is must read for Western movie genre and John Wayne fans.

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, 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.


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.