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Book Nook - 12-06-2017

Monday, June 12, 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

A Jigsaw Puzzle
David Badacci’s 2015 novel, The Memory Man introduced Amos Decker, a man with total recall. Now the third book in the series—The Fix—is out, and it is as thrilling, if not more, that the earlier two books.

Years earlier, as a young football player, Decker had been blindsided in his first game and got hit on the head so violently that he was declared dead. When he was revived, something had happened inside his brain that made him “an acquired savant with hyperthymesia and synesthesia abilities.”  Which in simple terms means he never forgets anything, even if he wants to, and sees emotions in colour.

After he recovers, he goes on to become a cop, and because he has an exceptional brain, makes for a very good investigator.  But the first book begins with a horrific tragedy-- Decker returns home one night, and finds his family slaughtered—his wife, little daughter and brother-in-law.

He is so devastated that he almost takes his own life, and is prevented from pulling the trigger by his cop friends who arrive at the scene of the crime.  The shock unravels him—he gives up his job, loses his home and car, becomes a recluse, making a sparse living as a private eye. Eventually, he is pulled out of that black hole and inducted into the FBI.

In Book 3, Decker, with his best friend and supporter Alex Jamison, along with his FBI buddies Ross Bogart and Ted Milligan is settling into a job he likes, even though his past trauma never leaves him.

One day, he is witness to what seems like a random killing, right outside the Hoover Building—the FBI headquarters. Walt Dabney, a prosperous businessman and family man, shoots Anne Berkshire, for no apparent reason and then shoots himself.  The woman he killed was a schoolteacher and social worker with no connection to Dabney.  But she also seemed to lead a double life, with immense wealth and no discernible source of income.

Dabney’s wife Ellie and four daughters are shattered by the course of events and have no answers to the cops’ questions. They simply cannot make sense of what Dabney did—a devoted husband and loving father-- who had no reason to wreck his life.

Decker and Jamison start investigating the baffling case and with each chapter a new layer unravels. There is a sinister plan afoot, that involves espionage, spying and terrorism.

Meanwhile, the enigmatic Harper Brown and agent of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) joins the investigation, starts on the wrong foot with Decker and gets Jamison’s hackles up. Decker now shares an apartment with Jamison, in a building owned by Melvin Mars from Book 2—The Last Mile. He had been pulled out of death row by Decker, after spending  twenty years in prison for a crime he did not commit. A grateful Mars becomes Decker’s friend for life. He drops into this book to help with the complicated and frustrating case.

Decker’s incredible memory does not really come into play till the explosive climax and the surprising twist, when all the tiny pieces of the jigsaw puzzle finally come together. The Fix is a very enjoyable book, with dashes of humour and also a bit of romance.

The Fix
By David Baldacci
Published by Pan MacMillan
Pages: 432


Excerpt of The Fix
It was normally one of the safest places on earth.

But not today.

The J. Edgar Hoover Building was the world headquarters of the FBI. It opened in 1975 and had not aged well—a blocks-long chunk of badly dilapidated concrete with honeycomb windows, and fire alarms and toilets that didn’t work. There was even safety netting strung around the top of the building to catch chunks of crumbling concrete before they could fall to the street below and kill someone.

The Bureau was trying to build a new facility to house eleven thousand employees, but a new location hadn’t even been chosen. So the opening of a new headquarters was about two billion dollars and seven years away.

For now, this was home.

The tall man striding down the tree-lined sidewalk was Walter Dabney. He had taken an Uber to a coffee shop down the street, ordered some food, and was
now walking the rest of the way. He was in his sixties, with thinning salt-and-pepper hair parted on the side. It looked recently cut, with a bit of cowlick in the back. His suit was expensive and fit his portly frame with the touch of a tailored hand. A colorful pocket square adorned the front of his dark suit. He wore a lanyard around his neck loaded with clearances sufficient to allow him access into the inner sanctums of the Hoover Building with an escort along for the ride. His green eyes were alert. He walked with a determined swagger, his briefcase making pendulum arcs in the air.

A woman was coming from the opposite direction. Anne Berkshire had taken the Metro here. She was in her late fifties, petite, with gray hair cut in parentheses around her long, oval face. As she approached the Hoover Building she seemed to hesitate. There was no lanyard around her neck. The only ID she possessed was the driver’s license in her purse.

It was late morning and the streets were not as crowded as they would have been earlier. Still, there were a great many pedestrians and the street hummed with activity as cars passed up and down with some vehicles making their way into an underground parking garage at the Hoover Building.

Dabney picked up his pace a bit, his Allen Edmonds wingtips striking the stained pavement with purpose. He started to whistle a cheery tune. The man seemed not to have a care in the world.

Berkshire was now walking faster too. Her gaze went to the left and then swung right. She seemed to take in everything with that one sweeping glance.

About twenty yards behind Dabney, Amos Decker trudged along alone. He was six-five and built like the football player he had once been. He’d been on a diet for several months now and had dropped a chunk of weight, but he could stand to lose quite a bit more. He was dressed in khaki pants stained at the cuff and a long, rumpled Ohio State

Buckeyes pullover that concealed both his belly and the Glock 41 Gen4 pistol riding in a belt holster on his waistband. Fully loaded with its standard thirteen-round mag, it weighed thirty-six ounces. His size fourteen shoes hit the pavement with noisy splats. His hair was, to put it kindly, disheveled. Decker worked at the FBI on a joint task force. He was on his way to a meeting at the Hoover Building.

He was not looking forward to it. He sensed that a change was coming, and Decker did not like change. He’d experienced enough of it in the last two years to last him a lifetime. He had just settled into a new routine with the FBI and he wanted to keep it that way. Yet apparently that was out of his control.

He stepped around a barricade that had been set up on the sidewalk and that stretched partway into the street. A manhole cover surrounded by an orange web barrier had been opened and workers were congregated around the area. One man in a hard hat emerged at the opening of the manhole and was passed a tool by another man. Most of the other workers stood around, some drinking coffee and others chatting.

Nice work if you can get it, thought Decker.


ALSO RECEIVED
Anita Shirodkar’s fourth novel is the first part of amythological trilogy.  According to the synopsis, “Aryavir is not an ordinary prince. Heir to the throne of Kamalkund, Aryavir is a Kamal Akshi - blue-eyed and blessed by the Indivara, a divine Blue Lotus that protects his kingdom. And yet Aryavir harbours a terrible secret about his fate. His family, led by his father, King Chiraksh, is bound by its own web of intrigue and ancient promises. The complexity of the family's past and present allegiances and the secrets each family member hides are set against the fact that Kamalkund has to fight off covetuous kings from across the borders who will do anything to control the powers of the Lotus. “Meanwhile, as Aryavir, his faithful tiger Kar and friend Sitanshu fight their own battles, the kingdom is faced by clear and present danger. And the past unravels its mysteries unexpectedly.This classic tale pays homage to India's magnificent mythological heritage and, at its heart, is a story about the eternal human journey.”

Aryavir (Guardians of the Blue Lotus Book 1)
By Anita Shirodkar 
Publisher: AuthorsUp
Front  Pages: 346

 
Manoj Jain’s third book Balraj asks: “Do you have the strength (or folly?) to give up everything in a quest to find happiness?” Says the synopsis, “Inder, age 47, a family man and a successful financial consultant decides to walk away from everything he knows and loves.  He travels through the heart of India in search of himself, meeting new people, learning lessons and giving himself up to serendipity.  Balraj is thought-provoking, troubling and even uplifting at times. Manoj Jain weaves a simple tale that explores the evolution of a soul-searcher through the travels of a man on a quest to find the answers he set out for.”
Balraj
By Manoj V.Jain 
Publisher: Notion 
PressPages: 150

 

Excerpt of Balraj
Inder sat at his desk in the study at home. He smiled as he looked around the tiny room, which served as his office when he returned from work. He would sit here most nights furiously typing away at the keyboard; his friends were always amazed by the speed and dexterity with which he used the keyboard, not realising that the QWERTY pad was an extension of his body now.

He looked at the calendar with the red square that he moved daily to indicate a new date. He had been forgetful the past few weeks and had ignored this morning ritual uncharacteristically. It was a small room but airy thanks to the large windows.

Today, the late afternoon sun dodged the blinds and managed to burst through the slats forming abstract designs on the white walls. There were two shelves where he kept technical books, a couple of journals and a diary where he jotted down his to-do list. There were two cupboards, which were filled with rows of neat files, carefully labelled and systematically organised. There was one for residential building maintenance bills, one for each car, the telephone file, the electricity file, investment files, the PF, bank papers and his son’s college file. Soon he would be leaving this room for an indefinite period of time; contrary to his expectations, he felt no remorse and no degree of wistfulness.

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