Sunday, February 4, 2018

Suspense Thrillers - Underrated Genre?

Suspense thrillers. You either hate them or love them. For years I have been an avid reader of "serious" literature, historical fiction and non-fiction books that helped me expand my horizons and deepen my knowledge on various subject. My personal, eclectic library grew in size. I read highly acclaimed literary works in four languages and discovered, for myself, many authors and many unforgettable books. Umberto Ecco was one such discovery and I devoured his first novel "The Name Of The Rose" in one gulp, so to say.  

At some point I realized that reading a well written thriller was the best way to relax from my very stressful job. Mystery and suspense took my mind off the things that bothered me and I became a fan of this intellectually sightly underappreciated genre. I discovered Michael Crichton, Dan Brown, Nelson DeMille, John Grisham, David Baldacci, Vince Flynn, Brad Thor, James Rollins, and David Silva, to name only a few. 

Some of the page-turners I red became national bestsellers that were later turned into star-studded movies. The genre fascinates many. Spies, spy masters, assassins, psychopathic killers, cool detectives, corrupt cops, dark characters, losers, winners, gamblers, art thieves, brutal gangsters, mad scientists, femmes fatales... You name it.

Born To Kill

My "transition" to this type of literature wasn't very difficult. I always loved film noir, Alfred Hitchcock, James Bond, and Agatha Christie's novels on screen.

A well written novel would grab me from the start and keep my mind busy  even through the longest flight delay at any airport. Time would simply fly and I would feel relaxed despite all the action, suspense and intrigues in which the protagonists were caught up.

The genre might be dismissed by the intellectuals despite the fact that well written, well researched thrillers offer interesting psychological portraits, possible scenarios, and information on various subjects, and can, without a pretense, expand readers horizons or at least ignite interest in a particular subject, be it art market, stock exchange, historical context, geopolitical theater, or the latest discoveries in forensic science.

I know that many people share my view. I seldom see someone reading Leo Tolstoy's "Anna Karenina" or James Joyce's "Ullysses" on the plane. What I often see on intercontinental flights are fellow passengers holding a Wall Street Journal and thriller of some kind under the arm as they are impatiently lining up before boarding a plane. No matter how long the flight, if you can get some shut eye or at least find some time to read your book, you will not even notice the hours spent int the air.

The Reader

Dominique Allmon©2018


Thursday, January 25, 2018

Mitchel By Darren Barker - Book Review

Darren Barker is a British author currently living in Suffolk, England. I bought "Mitchel" while in Europe and schlepped it with many other literary treasures back to US. I finished reading this book a few days ago and decided to write a short review.

The book is written in a form of a journal. The main protagonist, Mitchel Gause, a provincial barber bored to death in his small, unspectacular life, sets out on a very special journey that begins with an "accidental" killing of a person.

Being endowed with memory of an elephant, he decides to right the wrongs done to himself and others. Killing becomes his hobby, and even passion of his life. His emotions are dark and deep, sexual almost. His killings eventually turn into an addiction that he is well aware of.

As time passes by, he devises more and more cruel ways to torture his victims. At this point, you may need a stronger coffee or double Scotch to go with the reading. The book gets darker and you will not be surprised that Mitchel derives ever grater pleasure as his victims suffer unimaginable horrors before their death.

Interestingly, his provincial life goes on as if nothing horrible ever happened. The murders remain unsolved and Mitchel feels no remorse.

Be warned, the book is not for the fainthearted. If you like the genre, you will definitely enjoy this book.

The Reader

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Image by Dominique Allmon©2018

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Dan Brown's Origin

The year started well for me. I finally finished reading a few books that were on my reading list. "Origin" by Dan Brown was one of them. I bought the British version of the book while in Europe in December and started reading it right away, but was interrupted for a few days. Christmas, New Year... Things can get very busy at the end of the year, and you do not even notice how time flies. 

"Origin" is Brown's fifth book in the Robert Langdon series and you cannot help, but visualize Tom Hanks and Penelope Cruz or Selma Hayek while reading it.  If you are a clever reader you will figure out the plot before you get to chapter fifty, and even if you do, the book is still fun to read.

I do not want to spoil it for you and reveal too much, but if you like the genre, modern art, Spain, AI, quantum computers, and Dan Brown's writing, you will enjoy reading this book and forgive the author minor issues you might have with the text. If you know Gaugin's art, for instance, you might find the explanation redundant, but a reader not so familiar with Modernism might be grateful for the introduction. Etc. etc. etc.

The "big" issue that his protagonist Mr. Kirsch is trying to solve is for you to ponder. Where do we come from? Where are we going? Religion, science, technology, transhumanism... think between the lines. The never ending intellectual war between the atheist proponents of evolution and the religious creationist zealots cannot be resolved no matter how many books are written on the subject. The divide is fundamental. The battle for God continues while the search for the first cause is an ongoing scientific project. 

Some critics called the book moronic forgetting that it is just a fantasy set up in familiar places. For a more profound approach you will have to resolve to reading works of philosophy.

I think, Brown does a nice job in popularizing certain issues that are still neglected by vast sectors of society. But maybe I am mistaken. Maybe gender and social justice is all that counts. As you advance into the future, cellphone in hand, your intellectual horizon may become very narrow, indeed.

The Reader

Copyright Dominique Allmon©2018