The Scapegoat

 

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Now and then you come across an author or a book that simply floors you by it’s style and simplicity, powerful play. Such books are a delight to read, savored in every sense. The richness woven is hard to find in other books.

Daphne Du Maurier is one such novelist.  I should thank my local librarian for keeping her works in an accessible area and in good condition.  I started with The Scapegoat and am now in Birds. It is a captivating, interesting world that Maurier presents us.

The Scapegoat is the story of two men of British and French nationality who are exact duplicates of each other in looks and manners, speech- one a bachelor professor of French history and the other an impoverished count who has a huge family and runs a glass foundry at a loss. John and Comte de Gue to be exact.

They exchange places on a whim and the story moves forward from the POV of John in the count’s persona. He discovers that all is not as it seems. He has a plethora of problems to handle, satisfying every one of his family’s whims. He finds that the count is not what he seems-he is far more sinister and cunning in his designs and has no responsibility towards anything. In fact, he had made John a scapaegoat for his troubles.

John is forced to meld in with the count’s family and starts to unravel the mysteries behind every knot presented to him in his own inimitable way. He is most taxed by the count’s daughter, who is religious by nature and has a fierce attachment to him.

As all falls into place and John has turned things around, a tragedy strikes-and a surprise waits for him with an end that nearly destroys his whole life.

The human element is strongly played throughout the novel as is evident in each of the characters with their own agenda and designs. The fierce attachment that the count’s daughter feels towards him, the laments of his neglected wife, his estranged sister, his often humiliated brother who is a real management talent, his mistress who is a silent spectator to all that happens and his driver, sympathetic, yet friendly.

One is presented with the option of enjoying the book leisurely or to finish it in one go.

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Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

EHM

I thank my friend Prithi Rajagopal for suggesting this wonderful title.

It has been sometime since I saved a draft in expectation of finishing this book. Due to various reasons, I did not/could not finish it. Now that I have done so, it’s time for a review.

On the outset, John Perkins has filled in a lot of puzzle pieces which were hitherto missing though his book. Though intimidating, the book delivers on its promise by taking its reader through some of the most interesting and defining times in world history and the role of Uncle Sam in shaping it.

If one is watching carefully, one could notice a similar pattern of corporatocracy culture every where else. Perkin’s book,  though written some time back, is suitable for the current climate.

In chilling detail akin to a spy novel, Perkins enlightens us on his early days, his background(which was an influencing factor for his recruitment as a carrot), his initiation into the world of an economic hitman, his early phase in MAIN, his gradual growth and the dazzling world that is opened to him. We also get glimpses of the other world which exists at the very corner and his dilemmas in being torn in between the two conflicting worlds and his later role in reversing his actions.

The account is so touching that you actually feel as if you are traveling back in time with him in reliving his old days.  We actually are provided his resume which is so misleading in it wonderfully polished tone.  On the bright side, Perkins develops a great career, lives his dreams, is well respected in all circles, travels a lot, meets a lot of interesting people. On the flip side, his personal life is a total void-the price that he pays for selling his soul, in his own words.

As we finish the book, we are left with a lot of unanswered Qs. Only our actions and time will answer them. Hats off to Perkins for coming out with a bold book.

 

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Inferno

inferno

Seek and ye shall find..

For once, Robert Langdon is completely outwitted.

As the synopsis goes, Langdon awakes in a Florence hospital with a head wound, having no recollection of how he got there or why? All he knows is that some one is anxious to bust him off.

With Dante’s Inferno and Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon, Brown creates a compulsive page turner that refuses to be put down until we fathom the mysteries surrounding Langdon and his quest.

Add to this Langdon’s beautiful and eccentric escort Dr.Sienna Brooks, whose personality, as when revealed in bits and pieces leaves us in amazement as with Langdon. Dr.Brooks is nothing like Langdon’s earlier partners-in-quest Sophie, Vittoria Vetra, Catherine Solomon.

Sprinkled with generous facts and frescoes, with every chapter providing a climax, we do not complain about the 100+ chapters that extend. Not to miss out the other players in the race who are bent on their own purpose.

You tend to expect a predictable Robert Langdon adventure, but get more than what you bargained for. Also try to read Dante’s Inferno after this to completely submerge in the mystery. Happy reading!

 

 

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The King Whisperers

Long back I read Grigory Rasputin’s story in  a Tamil magazine called Gokulam. It narrates the entire story of Rasputin -his arrival to the Tzar’s palace to heal Alex, the prince from his illness and his subsequent rise and fall. Since then, I have wanted to read more, Kerwin Swint’s The King Whisperers brings the lot together.

What makes one a great puppet master? A superb understanding of human psychology, manipulation of the main weakness in the ruler and an unquenchable taste for more power. There are some who do not fall under this ambit, yet are great manipulators and decide the fate of their country by their selfless desire to do good-like Kamaraj of India. And we have Agrippo the younger, Himmeler, Cromwell, Cierco, Rove, Che Guera-each a treasure trove of interesting facts..

What a diversity of characters! Swint saves us the trouble by categorizing them into 10 titles-Fixers, King Makers, Rebels, Silver tongued devils, Generals, Schemers and the lot. He also adds interesting trivia which makes the book even more desirable-like Lawerence of Arabia who was actually the Indiana Jones even before Harrison Ford donned the cap and the whip, Cierco’s oratorical skills which failed to save him at the most needed hour, Che’s tactics, so on.

As we read about each of them, we only wonder at what they are capable. And what they accomplished.

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Micro

The highest amount of magnetic field conjured by man was 60 tesla, 2 million times that of the earth’s magnetic field.

In the 1960’s, a company researched with high level magnetic fields. The company subjected its volunteers to highly volatile magnetic fields over a period of 10 years. Nothing unusual was found in the subjects, except that they had lost a quarter of an inch in height. The finding was dismissed as trifling. But the result threw up a possibility of followup..

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Michael Crichton’s last novel Micro finished by Richard Preston deals with the micro world in a chilling way. If you had read Timeline by Crichton, you will appreciate this. You may also recall the movie Honey I shrunk the kids, which dealt with the micro world in an urban sense.

Add these together and you get a hell of a novel-one that terrifies and intrigues you without giving space for logical thinking. Seven graduate students doing research in various scientific fields are recruited by a company called Nanigen, specializing in micro robot manufacture and research. As they embark on a promising career and adventure, they receive their first warning to stay away, but ignore it.

Then all hell breaks loose…Thrust into the Hawaiian jungles, shrunken to a quarter of a millimeter in size, they find themselves the fodder for every imaginable being-centipedes, millipedes, wasps, ants. To top it up, the company that sent them inside does not want them to return and sends out termination teams.

The only thing the students have as a weapon is their accumulated knowledge in their respective fields to harness and survive….for it is the norm of the day.

The pages run fast. Just as you think all is over, a fresh difficulty/opportunity for the micro humans pops up. Imagine an ant the size of a skyscraper, a wasp the size of an eagle. And to beat them all, imagine robots the size of a dot, getting into your blood and bleeding you to death-surgibots. Nanotechnology sure has its kicks.

Get ready for a hell of a read.

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The Tao of Physics

This book was staring at me for a long time. I should admit that I was a little spooked by this book. The title was an eye puller. Finally, one fine day I decided to break the ice and bought both-The Tao of Physics and its sequel-Turning Point.

Though I am aware of the similarities between Eastern mysticism and physics, particularly science as a whole  from my mother, it is refreshing to read it in detail from such a wonderful book. The author-Fritjof Capra, draws parallel from Hinduism, Buddhism, Chinese Thought(now I understand Lao’s puzzles a bit!), Taoism, Zen to explain his point. More than the intended point of the author, it is an eye opener as he analyses briefly all the said religions. One learns about the other rel with which he is not acquainted.

And he explains the scientific facts in a lucid, fantabulous way, easily understandable to anyone with a general knowledge of science  Who would have thought that the Nataraja form of Shiva had so much information? We are aware of a few, but not in such detail.

Not only explaining the finest similarities, the author has also experienced the oneness of all which is important as to enable him to reach right into the reader’s mind and quell the doubts remaining per se.

I really enjoyed his book and felt  a bit ashamed that I read it so late.

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Black House

Abbalah!

Abbalah Gorg!

Abbalah Doon!

Munshun!

The Crimson King arrives!

Sophie,,

Having read Dreamcatcher and initiated into the horror world, I was only too greedy to read my next book. Black House was an absolute terror.

I understand that there is a sequel to Black House-The Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub. This book was in the top shelf of the library, kept peering at me(eerie, isn’t it?). The rest was bliss.

Atop a simple plot of disappearing children and their murder by a brutal killer called Fisherman, the authors paint a gruesome story of the primary characters. It is after the first 100 pages(there are 700 + more!) that you feel the chill up your bones creep up fully. The strange dreams shared by some of the sleepy town’s inhabitants who share a common past and the mysterious words at the beginning are only a start to a brilliant end. For it is an entirely different world-parallel that goes beyond what is presented to us on the surface.

The mental asylum, the curious behavior of the patients, the secrets they hold and the appearance of the Crimson King at the end, the power that manifests at the end on Tyler are only samples of the grip that the authors hold on the story.

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