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Book Nook - 18-06-2018

Monday, June 18, 2018

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 [email protected]

No Rest For The Weary
The Fallen is the fourth in David Baldacci’s terrific Amos Decker series, in which a head injury left the protagonist with hyperthemesia, or a perfect memory, and synesthesia which in his case, makes him associate events with colour—for instance, death as a disturbing electric blue. His inability to forget anything is perfect for his work as an investigator, but it also means that he always carries in his head the terrible image of the corpses of his wife and daughter (killed in the first book, Memory Man).

Over the last three books, Decker’s life unravelled, he pulled himself together and is now with a special task force of the FBI inducted by Ross Bogart (who stays out of this book, except as a voice on the phone), along with former journalist and best friend, Alexandra ‘Alex’ Jamison. The two promise to get each other’s backs in a crisis, but there is no romance yet.

Amos has reluctantly accompanied Alex on a vacation he does not want, since he has no life beyond work. They are visiting her sister, Amber and her family in a small town called Baronville. The once prosperous town has fallen on bad days, where John, the last of the Barons who founded it, lives in his decrepit mansion like a recluse, hated by other the inhabitants.

Socially awkward in the extreme, Amos is somehow befriended by Amber’s cute eight-year-old daughter Zoe, who is fascinated by the quiet giant with total recall. Amos may leave behind crime and adventure, but they follow him wherever he goes. Just lounging on the back porch of Amber’s house, he sees sparks of fire in the abandoned cottage next door. When he rushes to put out the fire, he finds two dead bodies in the house.

The local cops are hostile at first, going so far as to treat Amos as Alex as suspects. But when it turns out that there have been other unsolved and seemingly unrelated murders in Baronville, they reluctantly accept their superior investigative skills to help with the baffling case. There goes the vacation as the two have to get to work and put their lives on the line in the process.

As he starts to ask questions, Amos finds that the town in the grip of a drug addiction, which is often the case when there is an economic downturn. The only big employer there is a very large and new fulfillment centre (a place where vendors send merchandise to be delivered to buyers), and there is something not quite right out there.

When the big players from Drug Enforcement Administration turn up, the problems Amos faces are multiplied, while Alex and her family cope with the grief of the sudden death of Amber’s husband.

Baldacci deftly juggles the many tracks and a lot of colourful characters, so that The Fallen is a thrilling read and also a solemn look at the ugly side of the American dream.
The Fallen
By David BaldacciPublisher: Grand Central
Pages: 432

Excerpt of The Fallen
“Aunt Alex says you can’t forget anything.”

Decker turned from his musings to the source of the query.

Zoe Mitchell, twin blond ponytails, long sleeve pink shirt with flowers on it and white shorts showing off dimpled knees, stared curiously at him across the width of the wooden deck attached to the back of her house.

“My memory’s pretty good, yeah,” said Decker.

Zoe held up a sheet of paper. On it were about thirty very long numbers. She passed it to him.

“Can you remember all these?” she asked hopefully.

Decker glanced at it and then handed the paper back to her.

“Does that mean you can’t remember them?” said Zoe, the disappointment clear on her freckled face.

“No, it means that I already did.”

He recited the numbers back to her, in the same order they appeared on the page, because that’s what he saw in his head: the page of numbers.
She broke into a toothy grin. “That is so cool.”

“You think so?” said Decker.

Her pale blue eyes widened at his remark. “Don’t you?”

“Sometimes, yeah. It can be cool.”

He leaned against the deck railing and sipped his beer while Zoe watched him.

“Aunt Alex says you catch bad people.”

“We do it together. She’s got good instincts.”

Zoe looked at him in a puzzled way.

He explained, “She reads people really well. She sees things that others don’t.”

“She’s my favorite aunt.”

“How many aunts do you have?”

She sighed. “A lot. None of them are as cool as Aunt Alex.” She brightened. “She came to visit because my birthday is almost here. I’m turning nine.”

“I heard. We’re all going out to dinner for it.”

Decker looked around awkwardly as Zoe continued to watch him.

“You’re really big,” she observed.

“Not the first time I’ve heard that.”

“You won’t let any of the bad people hurt Aunt Alex, will you?” asked Zoe, her features and tone suddenly turning anxious.

Decker had been about to take a sip of beer. He slowly lowered the bottle. “No, I won’t. I mean, I’ll do my best never to let that happen,” he added a bit lamely.

There was a low rumble of thunder in the distance.

“I guess a storm is coming,” observed Decker quickly, looking for any way to change the subject.

He glanced at Zoe to find her innocent gaze still uncomfortably on him.

He looked away as another guttural growl of thunder was heard.

Summer was over, but the thunderstorms often accompanying the segue into early fall appeared to be fully engaged.

“Storm’s definitely getting closer,” said Decker, more to himself than to Zoe.

He looked at the house behind the one Zoe lived in. It seemed an exact copy. Same footprint, same wooden deck off the back. Same footprint of yard.

Same type of maple smack in the middle of the wilting grass.

But there was one difference.

The lights in the other house were flickering now. On, then off. On, then off.

Short Takes
Novy Kapadia book is indeed handy when football season is in full swing. According to the summary, “Football is not just a beautiful game but also a global obsession. Every four years, football kicks off a frenzy with every match, every player, and every kick being analyzed with fervour and recorded with vigour. This essential handbook is a companion volume for every football crazy fan who wants facts, statistics and data right on hand.

“The Football Fanatic's Essential 2014 Guide is jam-packed with important and fascinating information on international matches and players, and about India's role in football history. Put together by the reputed sports journalist, columnist and commentator, Novy Kapadia, this compendium of football will be invaluable for every passionate enthusiast of this legendary game.”

The Football Fanatic’s Essential Guide
By Novy Kapadia
Publisher: Hachette India
Pages: 252
Karanbir Singh’s My Little Infinity, is a real-life story of a father-son relationship. According to the synopsis, “The journey of My Little Infinity began when Dr. Rajinder Singh got diagnosed with liver cancer. Because of his medical background, they were able to get an early ticket for his liver transplant. But sometimes all that works well doesn’t always end well. Within four months Dr. Rajinder’s cancer relapsed and this time he lost his battle with cancer.

 “The book is divided in two parts, The first part, Entries of a Father  is written by Dr. Rajinder Singh on his feelings and his state of mind when he realises that he has been diagnosed with cancer and how a father, a husband, a doctor who knows the disease so well, makes an attempt to hit the right chords so that he can encash more days for himself to be with his family.

“And the second part Destiny of a Son denotes the journey of Karanbir Singh, who was a young college going boy when his father got diagnosed with cancer. He tried making sense of the events taking place around him and how he experiences death through his father and then went on a journey to find solace by deciphering life itself.”
My Little Infinity
By Karanbir Singh
Publisher: Adhyyan
Pages: 281

Melissa Fleming is the Chief Spokesperson for thr UHHCR, and her book A Hope More Powerful Than The Sea, captures the tragedy of Syria today, in the form of the journey of Doaa Al Zamel. The synopsis says, “Adrift in a frigid sea, no land in sight, just debris from the ship's wreckage and floating corpses all around, nineteen-year-old Doaa Al Zamel stays afloat on a small inflatable ring and clutches two little girls-barely toddlers-to her body. The children had been thrust into Doaa's arms by their drowning relatives, all refugees who boarded a dangerously overcrowded ship bound for Italy and a new life. For days as Doaa drifts, she prays for rescue and sings to the babies in her arms. She must stay alive for them. She must not lose hope.

A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea chronicles the life of Doaa, a Syrian girl whose life was upended in 2011 by the onset of her country's brutal civil war. Doaa and her fiance, Bassem, decide to flee to Europe to seek safety and an education, but four days after setting sail on a smuggler's dilapidated fishing vessel along with five hundred other refugees, their boat is struck and begins to sink. This is the moment when Doaa's struggle for survival really begins.

“This emotionally charged, eye-opening true story that represents the millions of unheard voices of refugees who risk everything in a desperate search for the promise of a safe future. In the midst of the most pressing international humanitarian crisis of our time, Melissa Fleming paints a vivid, unforgettable portrait of the triiumph of the human spirit.”

Hope More Powerful Than The Sea
By Melissa Fleming
Publisher: Hachette India
Pages: 285

This book, written by a retired IPS officer, RD Tyagi, “contains basic principles of success, which if followed can propel any person to great heights of success.  This book will guide you to think bigger, aim higher, get motivated and accomplish unlimited success. This book is a key for those who thrive to success, Mr. Tyagi has shared his `personal life experiences in the book. The main content of the book is the comprehensive definition of success and parameters of success. The power to use subconscious mind to achieve success. Triangle of success has three sides which has a base or foundation as positive represent attitude. The two sides represent the human power and three basic laws. “

Unlimited Success
By RD Tyagi
Pages: 178

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