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Book Nook - 10-07-2017

Monday, July 10, 2017
By Deepa Gahlot

There are Lit Fests taking place all over the country, but the community of readers is dwindling. Still, passionate book lovers would like to know what others like themselves are reading. This Book Nook suggests some books, but would also like to connect with serious readers, or even casual airport book browsers. Do write in about books you have loved or hated and why. The best entries will be shared on this page. Please send your recommendations to adc.booknook@gmail.com

Cops And Outlaws
John Sandford is a best selling crime novelist, and Golden Prey is his twenty-seventh ‘Prey’ book, that comes with endorsement from Stephen King, no less.

In this book, the man in the middle of the action is Lucas Davenport, who has just been made a US Marshal due to his high-level connections, that has caused some heartburn in the force.  Davenport is wealthy, nattily dressed and, to the envy of some of his colleagues, travels business class and stays in fancy suites. But when it comes to crime fighting, he is not averse to getting his hands dirty.

When his latest prey, the ruthless killer Garvin Poole, cold-bloodedly killed a six-year-old child during a heist, the enraged cop, husband and father does not rest till he tracks down the man.

Poole’s girlfriend Pandora Box (really!) and associate Sturgill Darling have to cope with not just the cops snapping at their heels, but the two killers, Soto and Kort, put on their trail by the Honduran drug cartel who were robbed of millions by the duo. Soto is a happy gunman, but Charlene Kort is a demented woman, who enjoys cutting up people to force them to divulge the information she wants. Evidently Sandford is not squeamish about writing gruesome scenes of torture.

The violence is a bit too much, but the pace is relentless and the adventure most entertaining. As Davenport observes, what makes their work easier is the tracking of cell phones. No matter how many burners the criminals use and throw, they can be tracked. On the other hand, the bad guys recruit hackers, who keep them one step ahead of the cops.

Sandford writes with the kind of humour and a cast of colourful lowlifes that is reminiscent of Elmore Leonard.  During the chase, Davenport is joined by the fearless pair of Bob and Rae; the latter is resigned to the responses a black female cop gets, and when she has to pass off as a maid to get information, she does, knowing that nobody pays attention to the working class.  The banter between these three is laugh out loud funny.

Golden Prey
By John Sandford
Publisher: GP Putnam’s
Pages: 440


Excerpt of Golden Prey
Sturgill Darling was sitting at a round corner table in the oyster bar, a block off the Gulf of Mexico, amid the steam and sour stinks of both raw and cooking seafood. He looked like a slow, lazy hick, and stupid, too, with his farm-work forearms, bowl-cut brown hair, and worn, loose-cut jeans. He wore a floppy plaid shirt and yellow work boots, and sprawled back in the chair, knees locked and feet straight out in front of him, grinning at the passing crowd with teeth as yellow as his boots. A dumbass, for sure; an ignorant peckerwood. A mistake that any number of people had made to their lasting ­regret.

Poole took the chair beside him, held up a finger to a barmaid, and pointed at Darling’s glass and said, “Give me one of those.”

When she’d gone, Darling asked, “What do you think?”

Poole was wearing sunglasses over a gray-flecked-red week-old beard, and under a long-billed fishing hat, the better to defeat surveillance cameras. He’d spent most of the day scouting the scene of the would-be job. “We can do it, if it’s no more guys than you say. How in the hell did you find this?”

“I knew the blow was coming in through Galveston but I couldn’t see any money going out. They’re bringing in anything up to five hundred kilos at a time, that’s, let’s see, about eleven hundred pounds, off big game fishing boats that meet with these boats from Honduras. Anyway, I found a guy in Houston who could sell me an ounce, and then I watched. Watched him, watched the guy he got his product from, and watched the guy he got his product from, and by the time I got to the end of the line, I was watching guys who could sell you a hundred kilos if you had the cash. Then I watched them backwards, watched the wholesalers paying the money guys—the money guys never touch the dope—and watched the money guys move it to the pickup guys, who travel up and down the coast from Charleston around to Galveston, with Biloxi in the middle. Watched it come down here, to the bank.”

Poole thought about that, admitted to himself that Darling had a talent that he, Poole, barely understood, the ability to uncover the footprints that could lead to a treasure; but Poole also understood that he had a talent that Darling didn’t: the will to act. Darling could uncover all the dope banks he wished, but he’d never go into a robbery as the leader, the designated shooter. That took somebody like Poole.

“How do they move the dope?” Poole asked.

“RV. Couple of middle-aged lesbo chicks, got some prison tats on them. They look . . . competent. They got double-load tires on the truck, I believe there might be some armor on it. These girls got a look about them—I believe they’re carrying some artillery.”

“Huh.” That’s the way Poole would have done it; he even liked the lesbo touch. Cops were usually too sexist and too lazy to pay much attention to a couple of chicks. And some of those goddamn dykes could take your face apart with their teeth.

“But we don’t want the dope, even if we could take it,” Darling said. “We got no way to get rid of it. Not that much of it. And the dope handlers never see the cash, except at the lowest levels.”

“Just askin’. Five hundred kilos, what’s that . . .” He closed his eyes for a few seconds, then said, “Twelve million, more or less, if it’s not stepped on too hard. What about the money?”

“They take no chances with the money. They move it in increments. There are four bankers who travel around, meet the collectors who get the cash from the top-end retailers. The bankers and everybody else move in rental cars, I doubt they ever have as much as a quarter million in any one pickup. Then it comes together, down here, once a month. The people here bundle it and send it out on the last Sunday of the month,” Darling said. “Regular as a railroad. Put it on a charter boat, drop it with a Honduran boat out in the Gulf. Whole operation is run by the Arce brothers, Hector and Simon, out of Puerto Cortés.”

“Honduras?”

“Yes. The brothers aren’t real big, not like the Mexican cartels, but they’re smart and mean. Keep their heads down and their mouths shut, nothing flashy about them. Pay off the Honduran cops and army, everybody’s cool.”

Poole thought about that, in the silent, smiling, calculating way that Southerners had, and finally said, “Well. Looks like you found the honeypot, all right.”

“Probably.” Darling gave Poole his lazy look. “You sure you’re up for this? It’s been a while.”

“Yup. I am.”


Crime Of Passion
Peter James has created the popular crime series with ‘Dead’ in the titles and the hard-working cop Roy Grace as the protagonist. The thirteenth book in the series, Need You Dead, goes to show why the author is so popular and was awarded the 2016 Crime Writers’ Association’s Diamond Dagger award.

Unlike so many other trigger-happy, lone wolf policemen in crime fiction, Grace is a stable family man, with a wife Cleo, infant son Noah, and a dog. In the past, his wife Sandy had disappeared, causing him a great deal of anguish. In the last book, Love You Dead, Sandy has resurfaced in a Berlin hospital, where she committed suicide and left behind a son, Bruno, who turns out to be Grace’s. With Cleo’s gentle encouragement, he decides to bring Bruno to live with them in England.

So in between his investigation into the strange case of Lorna Belling, he has to prepare for the domestic upheaval that would be caused by the arrival of Bruno, as well as the professional annoyance of getting as his superior the hated Cassian Pewe.

Lorna was trying to escape an abusive marriage by having an affair with a married man, who, she discovers quite by chance, had been lying to her all along. She is found dead in a love nest she was sharing with her lover. During a quarrel, the man ended up killing her. He not just took care to remove all traces of his presence from the apartment, but also plotted to implicate Lorna’s worthless husband Corin.

When Grace, along with devoted deputy Guy Batchelor go to arrest Corin, he makes a run for and is crushed to death by a car.  Grace is not convinced that Corin was the killer, despite all evidence pointing at him. He believes in the credo, Assume nothing. Believe no one. Check everything. Which stand him in good stead in his career as a homicide detective.

The red herrings pile up and more suspects turn up. In the midst of all this chaos, Grace brings Bruno home—the strange, quiet child with a love for football and drums.

The book is a serious police procedural, but also keeps an eye on Grace’s personal life and the emotional turbulence that is caused by Bruno’s arrival.  There is always a new twist introduced, but James takes time with new developments in the plot, which might get the impatient reader skip pages, but Need You Dead is ultimately a rewarding read for fans of crime fiction.

Need You Dead
By Peter James
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Pages: 512


ALSO RECEIVED
Sri Lankan writer Chhimi Tendul-fa’s collection of connected short stories shines a light on life in his country. The stories are dark and violent, but peppered with humour. According to the synopsis, “In a private room sheltered from the Colombo riots, a seventeen-year-old girl gives birth to a hatechild. At a city gym, an introverted fitness instructor obsesses over his unattainable client. Inside an untended guest-house room, an adolescent cricket champ is caught unawares by his coach’s violent fury. By a rain-drenched gravesite, a special-needs teacher confides in a stranger. Edgy yet tender, racy yet warm, these interlinked stories take us into the unfamiliar everyday of Sri Lankan living, where smugglers, waiters, single moms and cheaters cross paths as they attempt to negotiate a web of shock, subterfuge and irony. A collection of infinite brio and charm, this is Chhimi Tenduf-La at his inventive best.”

Loyal Stalkers
By Chhimi Tendul-fa
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Pages: 240

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