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Book Nook - 27-02-2017

Monday, February 27, 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 [email protected]

Secrets And Lies
David Baldacci knows how to spin a thriller, so even if his latest, No Man’s Land is a quite far-fetched, it is still a gripping read.

It is the fourth John Puller novel, in which he learns that the father he idolised all his life, may have killed his mother thirty years ago, when she disappeared, from the army township of Fort Monroe, never to be found. John, who is a military investigator, and his older brother Robert grieved for their mother for years, and lived with the anguish of not knowing what really happened. John Sr. who was a much admired military man, now languishes in a hospital, suffering an advanced stage of dementia.  It is a neighbour from the past, now on her deathbed, who accuses him of killing his wife.

Puller learns that his father who was supposed to be overseas when his wife disappeared had returned a day earlier, and that enough to cause suspicion of his guilt. Much to Puller’s surprise the CID closes the case files as abruptly as they had opened it.  But he needs closure now, and defies his seniors to conduct his own investigation. When he is ordered off the case, he resigns in the pursuit of the truth. His buddy and on-off lover, Agent Victoria Knox turns up to help him, and seems to know more than she lets on, causing trust issues between them.

Puller’s story runs parallel to that of Paul Rogers, who jumps parole after spending ten years in jail for murder.  He leaves behind a trail of corpses as he make his way to Fort Monroe, on a mission of revenge. Till the various strands of the story start converging, all the reader knows is the Rogers possesses superhuman strength, some kind of brain implant, a hideously scarred body and no impulse control. His unlikely comrade-in-arms is a mysterious and sexy young woman with a dodgy past, whom he meets in a nightclub, where is gets a no-questions-asked job as a bouncer.

When Puller and Rogers meet, they discover a common enemy and mission. Just what that is concerns the highest echelons of the military, business and science and the many powerful people involved, do not want their secrets to come out. It is a John Puller book, but the real protagonist is Paul Rogers, whose tragedy makes him a character to admire and sympathise with, no matter what he does. No Man’s Land is fast-paced and readable—Baldacci fans will be pleased.

No Man’s Land
By David Baldacci
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Pages: 417

Excerpt of No Man’s Land
She nodded to them both before sitting down across from the pair.

“My name is Claire Jericho. I was the one who called you, Agent Puller.”

Puller nodded and then indicated Knox. “This is—”

“I know who she is. Very nice to meet you, Agent Knox. Your reputation precedes you, as does your colleague’s.”

Knox and Puller exchanged glances before settling their gazes on Jericho.

She looked back at them impassively, cleared her throat, and said, “May I offer some refreshments? Tea, coffee, bottled water? I believe we also have sodas.”

They both declined.

She leaned forward and rested one hand on top of the other.

“I know that both of you are exceptionally busy, so I won’t waste your time. The fact is your interaction with one of my employees, Anne Shepard, has been reported to me. I have interviewed Ms. Shepard personally. The result was she was terminated this morning.”

“Why?” asked Puller.

“For the same reasons you told her last night, Agent Puller. She was frequenting an establishment and behaving in a way that breaches the terms of the contract she had with us. There was no remedy other than immediate termination.”

“Is that why you called? To tell me that? You could have done that over the phone.”

“I like to convey important information face-to-face.”

Also Received
Lasse Hallstrom has made a film based on this book, which is from a dog’s perspective, but for humans.  Says the synopsis, “This is the remarkable story of one endearing dog's search for his purpose over the course of several lives. More than just another charming dog story, this touches on the universal quest for an answer to life's most basic question: Why are we here? Surprised to find himself reborn as a rambunctious golden haired puppy after a tragically short life as a stray mutt, Bailey's search for his new life's meaning leads him into the loving arms of 8 year old Ethan. During their countless adventures Bailey joyously discovers how to be a good dog. But this life as a beloved family pet is not the end of Bailey's journey. Reborn as a puppy yet again, Bailey wonders, will he ever find his purpose? Heartwarming, insightful, and often laugh out loud funny, this book is not only the emotional and hilarious story of a dog's many lives, but also a dog's eye commentary on human relationships and the unbreakable bonds between man and man's best friend. This story teaches us that love never dies, that our true friends are always with us, and that every creature on earth is born with a purpose. “

A Dog’s Purpose
By Bruce Cameron
Publisher: Pan Macmillan

A profusely-illustrated book by well-known conservationist and photographer, Vivek Menon, will delight and educate kids, as well as grown-ups. Menon is a wildlife conservationist, author and photographer; he is the Founder and Executive Director of the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI), an Advisor to the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and its Regional Director (South Asia). He is the author of nine bestselling books on Indian wildlife. Says the synopsis, “Everything you wanted to know about awesome Indian mammals but didn’t know whom to ask!

What is the rhino’s horn made of? How do deer and langurs help each other in the forest?

Why do elephants and monkeys suffer the most in captivity?

Where can you see the Irawaddy Dolphin? Which Indian mammal has arms one and a half times the length of its legs?

Covering these and many more fascinating facts, this handy wildlife guide features more than 400 mammal species in India, from tigers, elephants and rhinos to monkeys, rodents and bats. Mammals fascinate us, probably because we belong to that order! That’s why, along with expertly researched information about where these animals are found and how they live, communicate and behave, conservationist and photographer Vivek Menon shares insider notes from his adventures in the wild. Key identification pointers and stunning colour photographs help you recognize different mammals easily, making The Secret Lives of Indian Mammals both a ready reckoner as well as a field guide for animal lovers.”

The Secret Life of Indian Mammals
By Vivek Menon
Publisher: Hachette
Pages: 256

Sharat Kumar’s collection of short stories is about life, love and relationships. According to the synopsis, “This collection of short stories is an assimilation of ideas, characters and language. It makes one embark on a journey that is thought-provoking, beautiful and real, all at the same time, and leaves one feeling both fulfilled yet hoping for more. The author is a man of many talents and wide experience. He started his career as a commissioned officer in the Indian Navy. After nine years of service, including a year spent on deputation to command a Company of the Border Roads in North Sikkim, he resigned his commission and joined a private sector industry in Kolkata. He went on to become its Managing Director, and then switched to be the President of a Joint Sector Company in Srinagar, Kashmir.
Subsequently, he was the Director of a prestigious MBA school (IMT Ghaziabad), when he wrote his book Mind your Management which won the 'Best Management Book of the Year Award' from NTPC-DMA.”

The White Marble Burzi and Other Stories
By Sharat Kumar
Publisher: LG
Pages: 224

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