Tag: thriller

The eleventh post of pre-Christmas 2018: November

Sunday, 23 December, 2018

Frederick Forsyth was 33 when his first novel, The Day of the Jackal, was published in 1971. The story of how the OAS (Organisation Armée Secrète) hires an English assassin to assassinate French President Charles de Gaulle became an international bestseller and gained the author fame and fortune. On 14 November, here, we welcomed Forsyth’s latest novel, which is very much about modern espionage.

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What if the most dangerous weapon in the world is not a nuke in a backpack but a 17-year-old boy with a brilliant mind, “who can run rings around the most sophisticated security services across the globe, who can manipulate that weaponry and turn it against the superpowers themselves?” That’s the premise of The Fox, the new thriller from Frederick Forsyth. Born in the year of the Munich Agreement, when British, French and Italian leaders agreed to Hitler’s demand for the German annexation of the Sudetenland, Forsyth has grown up in a world that has experienced its share of evil in his 80 years. The latest manifestation, in his latest novel, is the Vozhd, a Russian word meaning “the Boss” or, in the world of crime, “the Godfather”. When Forsyth was 15, the old Vozhd, Joseph Stalin, died. The new Vozhd is Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin and one of his prized assets arrived in Russia in 2013, having fled from Hawaii. Snippet:

“When defector and traitor Edward Snowden flew to Moscow it is believed he carried over one and a half million documents on a memory stick small enough to be inserted before a border check into the human anus. ‘Back in the day’, as the veterans put it, a column of trucks would have been needed, and a convey moving through a gate tends to be noticeable.
So, the computer took over from the human, the archives containing trillions of secrets came to be stored on databases… Matching pace, crime also changed, gravitating from shoplifting through financial embezzlement to today’s computer fraud, which enables more wealth to be stolen than ever before in the history of finance. Thus the modern world gave rise to the concept of computerized hidden wealth but also to the computer hacker. The burglar of cyberspace.”

The Fox

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The review of the year as posted by Rainy Day ends tomorrow with the twelfth post of pre-Christmas 2018. The subject is the street-fighting man, then and now.


Forsyth namechecks Snowden

Wednesday, 14 November, 2018

What if the most dangerous weapon in the world is not a nuke in a backpack but a 17-year-old boy with a brilliant mind, “who can run rings around the most sophisticated security services across the globe, who can manipulate that weaponry and turn it against the superpowers themselves?” That’s the premise of The Fox, the new thriller from Frederick Forsyth. Born in the year of the Munich Agreement, when British, French and Italian leaders agreed to Hitler’s demand for the German annexation of the Sudetenland, Forsyth has grown up in a world that has experienced its share of evil in his 80 years. The latest manifestation, in his latest novel, is the Vozhd, a Russian word meaning “the Boss” or, in the world of crime, “the Godfather”. When Forsyth was 15, the old Vozhd, Joseph Stalin, died. The new Vozhd is Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin and one of his prized assets arrived in Russia in 2013, having fled from Hawaii. Snippet:

“When defector and traitor Edward Snowden flew to Moscow it is believed he carried over one and a half million documents on a memory stick small enough to be inserted before a border check into the human anus. ‘Back in the day’, as the veterans put it, a column of trucks would have been needed, and a convey moving through a gate tends to be noticeable.

So, the computer took over from the human, the archives containing trillions of secrets came to be stored on databases… Matching pace, crime also changed, gravitating from shoplifting through financial embezzlement to today’s computer fraud, which enables more wealth to be stolen than ever before in the history of finance. Thus the modern world gave rise to the concept of computerized hidden wealth but also to the computer hacker. The burglar of cyberspace.”

The Fox


Relaxation reading

Tuesday, 25 September, 2018

Thurn is staring at the computer screen, struck by how calmly the robbers seem to be working. She watches them methodically fill their mailbags with cash. When one sack is full, they swing it up onto their shoulders or drag it across the floor and out of the room. Since they’re coming and going, all dressed alike, it’s difficult to tell how many of them there are. Four, she would guess, but it could just as easily be three or five.

‘Where are they?’ she asks. ‘In the vault?’

‘No, no,’ says Lindahl. ‘No one gets into the vault. That’s where the big money is. No, they’re up on the sixth floor. We call it Cash. Counting. It’s where we send the notes to be counted. Then they’re sent back down to the vault. We never have more than a few hundred million up there.’

‘A few hundred million?’ Thurn repeats, amazed.

‘Right now, we have over a billion in the building,’ Lindahl points out, to put those hundreds of millions in context.

A snippet from The Helicopter Heist by Swedish author Jonas Bonnier, who was President of the Bonnier Group from 2008 until 2013. The story, which centres on the 2009 Västberga helicopter robbery, has been sold to 34 territories, and the film- and TV-rights were acquired by Netflix and Jake Gyllenhaal’s production company Nine Stories.

The Helicopter Heist


The innocent internet, safe from prying eyes

Sunday, 4 March, 2018 0 Comments

In 1995, A Crooked Man by Christopher Lehmann-Haupt was published by Warner Books. Blurb: “Part political thriller, part murder mystery, A Crooked Man is a gripping and superbly constructed novel which takes us into the dark heart of American society.”

Those who cannot imagine life without the internet, and many who regard the year 1995 as the Stone Age, might be surprised to learn that the World Wide Web was part of the communications mix two decades ago. The scene: Washington D.C. The players: Senator Nick Schlafer and the Secretary of the Department of Drug Control, Emery Frankfurt.

“Incidentally, we’re getting a surprising amount of support around the country. In the boondocks, even.”
“What makes you think so?”
“We’ve taken polls.”
Emery laughed. “I’d like to see them.”
“You can. I’ll have Segal fax you a printout.”
“Have him send it by modem over Internet. Saves paper and it’ll stay on the computer, out of the way of prying eyes.”
“Fine. I’ll see to it.”

It would stay on the computer and would be safe from prying eyes there. How quaint. And then along came the thieves, chief among them, Edward Snowden, and nothing would be safe on the computer again.

WWW circa 1995


The Deceiver by Forsyth

Saturday, 5 March, 2016 0 Comments

Browsing this evening in a rather topsy-turvy second-hand bookshop run by an ex-banker and came across a thriller stamped “First English Edition.” Unusual, that. Especially unusual as the author is the great Frederick Forsyth. His “first editions” tend to be in English.

Anyway, The Deceiver is a page turner of the best kind and is full of ripping-yarn stuff. Rich dialogue, too. “Sam, I know you’ve been in more tight places than a shepherd’s right arm.”


Current reading: I Am Pilgrim

Friday, 21 August, 2015 1 Comment

With Mad Max 2, Payback, Cliffhanger and Dead Calm among his credits, the Australian screenwriter Terry Hayes could rest on his laurels, but he’s not content with being put out to grass. I am Pilgrim I Am Pilgrim is his debut novel and it is an exceptionally fine thriller. The moving parts include a flawed hero in the form of a US intelligence agent codenamed The Pilgrim, working for a shadowy outfit called The Division, and a jihadi Saudi doctor codenamed The Saracen, who has created a smallpox variant with which he hopes to destroy the “far enemy”, namely the USA.

The action races from Manhattan to Moscow to London, the Hindu Kush, Bodrum and a Nazi death camp in Alsace. And that’s just a half dozen of the global settings. In between, Hayes peppers the story with wry observations about humanity, its habitats and its foibles. In an attempt to extract confidential customer records from an especially reptilian Swiss banker, the Pilgrim takes the man’s daughter hostage and threatens the worst. The banker is forced to choose between finance and family. This prompts the following observation:

“People say love is weak, but they’re wrong: love is strong. In nearly everyone it trumps all other things — patriotism and ambition, religion and upbringing. And of every kind of love — the epic and the small, the noble and the base — the one that a parent has for their child is the greatest of them all. That was the lesson I learned that day, and I’ll be forever grateful I did.”

I Am Pilgrim is a cut above the ordinary so it’s not surprising that MGM bought the rights and are said to be plotting a series of films, similar to the Bourne franchise.


Peeking into Bond

Friday, 1 November, 2013 0 Comments

Amazon has delivered and once some upcoming unpleasantness has been successfully weathered, we’ll be enjoying Solo, the new James Bond thriller by William Boyd. Can’t resist a quick peek at the first sentence, though. Here goes: “James Bond was dreaming.” Hmmm. Sounds, er, promising. Meanwhile, here’s the cover of the third Ian Fleming 007 story, Moonraker, which was published in April 1955 in Britain by Jonathan Cape. The cover art, if one can call it that, marks one of the low points in the history of design. Between the covers, though, the author was splendidly un-PC.

“Unless she married soon, Bond thought for the hundredth time, or had a lover, her cool air of authority might easily become spinsterish and she would join the army of women who had married a career.” Ian Fleming, Moonraker

Moonraker


Frederick Forsyth has al-Shabab in his Kill List

Thursday, 26 September, 2013 0 Comments

The Kill List “Eighty percent of success is showing up,” said Woody Allen, famously, but what about the critical remainder? Success is tied to timing so which part of good timing is due to good luck? Or is good timing a function of hard work? These questions are worth discussing in light of the latest thriller from Frederick Forsyth, The Kill List. What makes its appearance right now so uncanny is that much of the story plays out in Somalia, home to the terrorist group al-Shabab, which provides sanctuary for the fanatical Islamist at the centre of the novel. Following the weekend slaughter at Nairobi’s Westgate Mall, the name al-Shabab, meaning “The Youth” in Arabic, is now associated with butchery and horror as fact intersects with fiction.

In Forsyth’s novel, the evil sermons of the wicked “Preacher” are being broadcast in immaculate English from a command centre in the Somali port of Kismayo, and in the real world on Monday a man identifying himself as Abu Umar, an al-Shabab commander in Kismayo, spoke impeccable English as he offered details on the identity of the terrorists and the siege that suggested a command centre inside Somalia was running the operation. Forsyth is concise on the tragic story of this wretched place, which once had comprised French Somaliland, British Somaliland and the former Italian Somaliland. Snippet:

“After a few years of the usual dictatorship, the once thriving and elegant colony where wealthy Italians use to vacation had lapsed into civil war. Clan fought clan, tribe fought tribe, warlord after warlord sought supremacy. Finally, with Mogadishu and Kismayo just seas of rubble, the outside world had given up.

A belated notoriety had returned when the beggared fishermen of the north turned to piracy and the south to Islamic fanaticism. Al-Shabab had arisen not as an offshoot but as an ally to Al-Qaeda and conquered all the south. Mogadishu hovered as a fragile token capital of a corrupt regime living on aid…”

Frederick Forsyth provides much more than a page turner when he writes thrillers. The Kill List is history, geography and a warning to the civilized world as well. As events at Westgate Mall have shown, the barbarians are at the gates.


Spy Wednesday

Wednesday, 27 March, 2013 0 Comments

Today, the Wednesday before Easter, is known as “Spy Wednesday“, indicating it’s the day Judas Iscariot conspired with the Sanhedrin to betray Jesus for 30 silver coins. An ideal day, then, for an espionage thriller and our recommendation is Rip Tide by Dame Stella Rimington, the former Director General of the British security service MI5. […]

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Gone psychopathic, Girl

Monday, 14 January, 2013 0 Comments

“There are two sides to every story” declares the strapline on the cover of Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, and the author sets us up for the telling by alternating between versions of events as experienced by her protagonists: Nick Dunne and Amy Elliot. It’s the perfect device for what’s she’s got in mind as […]

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