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Posts Tagged ‘FBI’

In 1981, in Moscow’s Gorky Park, three bodies are uncovered as the winter snow thaws and Police Chief Investigator Arkady Renko reluctantly takes the case and attempts to solve the triple murder.

It rapidly becomes apparent that nothing is as it seems, and Arkady can never be sure of who to trust, either professionally or personally. The possibility of betrayal is ever present and Arkady realises that the investigation may end up costing him his life.

Well! I am not entirely sure what to make of this book. It’s a classic and I can see why. The plotting is intricate and the characterisation, especially of Arkady is very well done. Being set during the Cold War does date it, especially when it comes to relations between Russia and America, which is an important factor in this story, but that’s fine. It’s a novel set at a very defined point in the history between two countries and as it was also written in 1981, it feels authentic.

However, while the writing draws you in, it’s definitely a twisty tale which requires concentration. At one point I wished I had started taking notes, because I did have to sometimes go back a few pages and remind myself of what had taken place. So it’s not the easiest read in terms of plot, but the prose itself is a delight. If this genre is your kind of thing, I would recommend you check this out.

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The Blurb

You wake. Confused. Disorientated.
A noose is round your neck.
You are bound, standing on a chair.
All you can focus on is the man in the mask tightening the rope.
You are about to die.

John Wallace has no idea why he has been targeted. No idea who his attacker is. No idea how he will prevent the inevitable. Then the pendulum of fate swings in his favour.
He has one chance to escape, find the truth and halt his destruction. The momentum is in his favour for now. But with a killer on his tail, everything can change with one swing of this deadly pendulum…

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My Thoughts

I listened to this as an audiobook, narrated by Luke Thompson who did a great job. The narrative hits the ground running – rather than any introductory back story, it starts slap bang in the middle of an attempted murder. When photographer John Wallace is attacked in his apartment, he feels sure that he is about to die, but manages to escape by the skin of his teeth. However, his attacker is relentless and seemingly able to track John, no matter where he hides. John has to find out who is trying to kill him, and more importantly why – but his journey will take him across an ocean and down some very dark paths.

I really liked the first part of the book – the action was fast moving and the characters were well fleshed out. However, when the story moved to New York, it faltered somewhat for me, as it began to include elements of cyber terrorism (don’t worry – no spoilers here) and it became unbelievable as Wallace seemed to be able to somehow defy numerous attempts on his life, while around him the body count continued to rise.

Hamdy definitely knows how to write an action sequence, and Luke Thompson’s narration matched the pace of the storyline. However, the second half of the story was something of a slog for me. This book is the first in a series, and although it’s easy to see where the set up for the next book comes in, there was enough closure here for anyone who didn’t want to read any more. I fall into that category – this wasn’t awful, but didn’t interest me enough to want to read any more about the Pendulum case.

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Year of first publication: 2016

Genre: Thriller, action, mystery

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This sprawling, shocking novel revolves (mainly) around three fictional characters, but is rooted in the time of the Kennedy family’s rise to success – it features JFK campaigning for and winning the election and his brother Bobby becoming Attorney General. The events of the novel take us right up to that fateful date of 22nd November 1963.

The main characters are Pete Bondurant, bodyguard for the eccentric millionaire Howard Hughes as well as a terrifyingly effective Mob associate; Kemper Boyd, an FBI Agent who at the request of J Edgar Hoover infiltrates the Kennedy organisation and finds his loyalties (such as they are) split many ways; and Ward Littell, another FBI Agent and anti-Mob crusader. Lets be clear here – none of these men are particularly nice, but they are interesting. In fact, none of the characters in this book – real or fictional – come off particularly well, least of all John F Kennedy.

The story describes the machinations of the Kennedy family and their associates in making sure that JFK wins the election, and covers such historical events as the Bay of Pigs invasion, and attempts to bring down Fidel Castro. There’s so much story here that it was sometimes hard to take in everything that happens – whether you are familiar with the events upon which the book is based or not, this is a book that really demands your attention.

The writing is visceral and brutal and the story is fast paced, with loyalties of all characters constantly being questioned both by the readers and by other people in the story. Despite the concentration required, it’s actually a pretty easy read with mainly short, choppy chapters, which tend to show events from alternating points of view.

Overall, if you are interested at all in what happened to John F Kennedy and who killed him – this book offers a fictionalised theory – then I would definitely recommend this, but be aware that it is not a cosy afternoon read!

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Harry Bosch has recently retired from the LAPD, but he is still haunted by a case of a young woman’s murder, which went unsolved, and which may or may not be connected to the robbery of $2 million dollars from the movie set where the young woman worked. 

As Harry delves back into the case, he finds himself warned off investigating it, both by his former colleagues, and the FBI.  But this only serves to heighten his interest, and make him more determined to find out the truth.  However, Harry no longer has the protection and back-up of a Police badge, and this investigation is going to lead him to some dangerous places…

This is the first Harry Bosch book I have read, although it is the ninth in the Bosch series.  The previous books feature him in his role as an LAPD detective, with this one apparently being the first one where the character is retired.  Although I normally like to read a series in order, I did not feel that not having read the earlier books was any kind of disadvantage. 

I liked the character of Bosch a lot – a problem I find with a lot of crime fiction is that there are often so many cliches applied to the main character (he’s usually a loner, who gets on the wrong side of his bosses, often with a drink problem and an attitude problem to match).  However, Bosch is altogether more believable.  He is stubborn and tenacious, but he’s basically a decent man, with morals.  His has an ex-wife, with whom he is on good terms (and who clearly, he is still in love with), he likes a drink but isn’t a drunk.  He does irk his ex bosses though!

The story itself was full of twists and turns, and I was never able to predict what the outcome would be until it happened.  However, it didn’t rely on deliberately leading the reader up the wrong path; rather it just showed the investigation through Harry’s eyes, and we progressed through it with him.  It was suitably complicated, but still easy to understand and read, and was exciting enough for me not to want to put it down.

The story is told in the first person, which (I believe) is not the case in the other Bosch novels.  Why Connelly deviated from his usual third person narrative is not known, but it worked for me. 

Los Angeles is shown as a glamorous and exciting place, but which has a sometimes murky truth lurking just beneath the surface – the perfect setting for the murder and robbery on a Hollywood movie set! 

Definitely one to recommend for fans of crime fiction – I would like to go back to the beginning of the series and read the other Bosch books.  This was an exciting, pacy and unpredictable read.

(Author’s website can be found here.)

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