Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Cross / Stalemate


I haven't written about books for a while on this blog but that doesn't mean I've given up on reading. I have been reading as much as before (guess I can still carry on a conversation if I ever meet Kumari :-) and did read many books (Tess Gerritsen's The Mephisto Club and Tami Hoag's Prior Bad Acts, to name a couple). But they were pretty disappointing in both plot and pace and since, unlike writing about movies, I write only about books I liked atleast a little bit, I skipped writing about them. But here are 2 books that stirred enough interest to make me write about them.

Books in a series usually have a hook or a loose end that keeps you coming back to them. The issue is always in the background in the books and we start reading each book in the hope that the issue gets some kind of closure. Two protagonists whose books I've been reading for some time now, Alex Cross and Eve Duncan, both have such difficult emotional issues that were touched upon but never closed in almost all their books so far. Coincidentally, both their latest books deal with the open issues in a big way but they achieve closure at different levels.

Alex Cross, the main character in one of James Patterson's many series, has never been able to find the killer of his first wife, who was shot dead many years ago. In his new book Cross, he goes after a serial rapist, who he learns later, may have been his wife's killer too. Eve Duncan's situation is even sadder. She is a forensic sculptor - someone who reconstructs a dead person's face from his/her skull. Her daughter Bonnie was kidnapped and killed many years ago but she has never learned who the killer was nor has she found Bonnie's body. In her latest book Stalemate, she is recruited by a South American master criminal who promises to help her find her daughter's killer if she helps him identify a skull.

Cross reminded me why I became a Patterson fan in the first place. The book moves at a rapid pace as Cross pursues the villain, digging into his past and slowly uncovering clues about his whereabouts. A parallel track that details the villain's movements portrays a really cold-blooded, scary guy who, at many places, manages to be a step ahead of Cross. Cross does get some kind of closure with respect to his wife's death but it was anticlimactic.

In Iris Johansen's Stalemate, Eve travels to South America fully aware of the dangers her latest job entails. She is caught in the middle in the war between two equally dangerous warlords and only the hope of learning about her daughter's killer keeps her going. The warlord who employs her is an interesting, well-developed character but it is a little disappointing when he turns out to be essentially good since it removes the moral ambiguity from Eve's task. Eve's conflicting feelings towards him are nicely captured though. True to the location of the story, the book is high on action and the sequences are well-written. There is only 1 twist but that one is too predictable and cliched to be of any surprise.

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If you share my tastes in reading, the next few months should bring you a lot of joy. David Baldacci's Simple Genius releases April 24. James Patterson has 6th Target, the 6th book in his Woman's Murder Club series, coming out on May 8. The Kite Runner author Khaled Hosseini's second novel A Thousand Simple Suns is coming out May 22. Jeffery Deaver's Sleeping Doll, with Kathryn Dancer, a character he introduced in Cold Moon, will hit stores on June 5. And ofcourse, as a fitting grand finale, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows will be out on July 21. Happy reading!

13 Comments:

At 1:34 AM, Blogger Nisha said...

If you like thrillers as much as i think you do, I'd like to recommend the Agent Pendergast series by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. I would recommend starting with Cabinet of Curiosities, or, if you can get your hands on it, Relic (the first book in the series). I think you might like Agent Pendergast. :)

 
At 3:24 AM, Blogger KayKay said...

Dear BB, since your previous reads list contains a John Sandford title, it's worthwhile mentioning that his latest Prey book, Invisible Prey will also be out soon.

 
At 5:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is Tess Gerritsen's "The Surgeon" good? Planning to read it

 
At 9:21 AM, Blogger Munimma said...

Didn't know Baldacci had one in the pipeline. Will keep an eye on that.

Am back to phoenix before the movie and just finished half blood prince revision. I don't think I ever studied these many times for any exam.

Did you read Eragon/Eldest? I liked them a lot.

I loved kite-runner and hope his second book is as engrossing.

Seriously, BB, you need to get hold of a Wodehouse soon. :-)

 
At 1:13 PM, Anonymous ram said...

bb, do u read the works of any Indian authors? Also, stories set in the Indian milieu...? any that u'd recommend strongly?

i read the very first novel of my life a few weeks ago..."a long way down" by nick hornby...read it while i was in transit at o'hare...happened to notice the name of the author...coz he wrote the books that were the basis of films such as "high fidelity" and "about a boy" esp. the latter being a big fav of mine...found myself really enjoying the wit in his words...lotsa black humor, uncomfy laughs, the book is a very enjoyable read...

 
At 2:26 PM, Blogger Me too said...

Of the lot, I look forward to Khaled Husseini's second novel.

 
At 11:43 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

nisha, have seen books by preston and child but always thot they were horror novels and so didnt give them a try... lemme see if i can pick one of theirs up...

kaykay, sandford is another of those authors i read when no books by my fav authors r out. so i may try 'invisible prey' after july 21 :)

anon, i think 'the surgeon' was the first gerritsen novel i read. quite gory and bloody but thrilling and suspenseful, if i remember right...

munimma, didnt read 'eragon' but recently saw the film. didnt excite me enuf to make me pick up 'eldest' :)

ram, unfortunately, no :( i read 1 book Q&A by an indian author but none others, maybe cos indian authors dont write thrillers... glad u finally picked up a book :)

me too, thats probably 2nd on my list after HP 7 :)

 
At 3:49 AM, Blogger Munimma said...

The movie was a totally blotched up effort. The books are much better.

 
At 7:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ram..Among recent books, "The Argumentative Indian" by Amartya Sen is a great read. If you are looking for classics, nothing to beat "Ponniyin Selvan"!

Kumar

 
At 8:29 PM, Blogger Akshay Shah said...

Awesome review-thanks Balaji! I'm a huge fan of Patterson and the Cross series, and so far have liked the movie adaptions(ALONG CAME A SPIDER, KISS THE GIRLS) as well! Freeman is the perfect actor play Cross

http://aakshayshah.blogspot.com/

 
At 7:06 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

kumar, what kind of a book is that? ('argumentative indian')?

akdhay, i loved 'kiss the girls' but was pretty disappointed by 'along came a spider'.

 
At 1:00 AM, Blogger Akshay Shah said...

Thanks Balaji, BTW Am I the only one who thinks that these novels have a chance of working quiet nicely in a Indian milieu/context?

In Tamil cinema either Kamal Hassan(as proven in the first half of VV) or even Prakash Raj/Nasser could slip rather nicely into the role of the "thinking mans hero" Alex Cross. Or in Hindi no doubt Amitabh Bachchan or even Om Puri/Nasseridian Shah.

BTW Balaji, have you seen the hindi film AKS?

A.Shah

http://aakshayshah.blogspot.com/

 
At 7:19 PM, Anonymous Vi said...

I love Iris Johansen's books, but the Eve series are getting tiring! I rather see some of her other characters reappear.

 

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