The Eve of Destruction

THE EVE OF DESTRUCTION is a novel about America edging toward nuclear war with the Soviet Union. It would be a war that might kill hundreds of millions of people and poison the atmosphere for fifty years. In October 1962, American spy planes photographed missiles loaded with nuclear warheads in Cuba. The Soviet Union was installing the missiles, and they could reach targets in the USA within minutes. President Kennedy was trying to find a way out of the Cuban Missile Crisis without recourse to war. The US armed forces were confident about attacking the Soviet Union in one all-out nuclear war, certain they would win. President John Kennedy was doubtful about their advice and motives, cautious after they told him similar gung-ho things about the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba. The Eve of Destruction is the story of the Cuban Missile Crisis.  EXTRACT  Luke could hear the roar of the huge printing presses in the background. He was sitting opposite Walt who smiled delightedly, unable to understand what this was about. Luke listened to the sound and smell of the printing, he imagined the newspapers whizzing down to the collection point to be bundled; he could smell the… Continue reading

– The Top 100 Mystery Novels of All Time –

  According to Mystery Writers of America this is the 1995 list of The Top 100 Mystery Novels of All Time.     Arthur Conan Doyle: The Complete Sherlock Holmes (1887-1927) Dashiell Hammett: The Maltese Falcon (1930) Edgar Allan Poe: Tales of Mystery & Imagination (1852) Josephine Tey: The Daughter of Time (1951) Scott Turow: Presumed Innocent (1987) John le Carré: The Spy Who Came In From the Cold (1963) Wilkie Collins: The Moonstone (1868) Raymond Chandler: The Big Sleep (1939) Daphne du Maurier: Rebecca (1938) Agatha Christie: And Then There Were None (1939) Robert Traver: Anatomy of a Murder (1958) Agatha Christie: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (1926) Raymond Chandler: The Long Goodbye (1953) James M. Cain: The Postman Always Rings Twice (1934) Mario Puzo: The Godfather (1969) Thomas Harris: The Silence of the Lambs (1988) Eric Ambler: A Coffin for Dimitrios (1939) Dorothy L. Sayers: Gaudy Night (1935) Agatha Christie: The Witness for the Prosecution (1948) * Frederick Forsyth: The Day of the Jackal (1971) Raymond Chandler: Farewell My Lovely (1940) John Buchan: The Thirty-Nine Steps (1915) Umberto Eco: The Name of the Rose (1980) Fyodor Dostoyevsky: Crime and Punishment (1866) Ken Follett: Eye of the Needle (1978)… Continue reading

– Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad –

A book review about a perilous journey by steamboat into the centre of Africa.  Think Humphrey Bogart in The Africa Queen, but with a boat load of cannibals, and no Katharine Hepburn to keep order. One of the first things I noticed about this novel was the splendid use of language, the adjectives, similes, metaphors, and the descriptions. The second thing was the irony, enough to make me laugh aloud, although it is a serious and dark book. Joseph Conrad was a river-boat captain in the Congo, and he experienced a similar journey to the one his  protagonist, Charles Marlowe, endured. The story is of an English adventurer who travelled into the Belgian Congo as a steamboat captain. The purpose of the trip was to bring back ivory from the centre of Africa. It was a long and dangerous voyage, the steamboat broke down, and most of the boat crew turned out to be hungry cannibals. The narrator, talked about, indeed was obsessed by a man called Kurtz, who resided at the furthest point of the journey. Kurtz was a successful trader of ivory, and apparently a remarkable man; a man of education, of  understanding, of culture. Yet after a… Continue reading

– Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult –

  This is the first Jodi Picoult novel I have read. It will not be the last, for I found it interesting, informative, and totally absorbing. Jodi Picoult has been prolific, writing over twenty novels during the past twenty years. Not flimsy bodice rippers, but real novels. Leaving Time required an extensive gathering of information to give a solid background of support to the characters. The story is set in both Africa and America, often in elephant sanctuary parks. Most people — myself included — do not know much about elephants apart from the obvious things. In this novel, there is a great deal about elephants; factual information, not so much about their physical attributes, but about their psychology; their grieving for dead calves, their memories of events, and their individual characters. Long before the end of the novel, you will come to be fascinated by the life and character of elephants. The basis of the novel is not about elephants, but about a 13-year-old girl’s search for her mother who abandoned her when she was a three-year-old child. The girl, Jenna, has decided that she will track down her mother, believing her to still be alive, and believing that… Continue reading