Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Fool's Run - John Sandford

This book was first published in 1989, before the Prey series - under John Sandford's real name. The hero was a painter who was also good with computer, named Kidd (or Mr. Kidd - his first name is unknown to readers). Sometimes he played Tarot. A big defense aviation company in Chicago hired him to attack its rival's computer system. Kidd's employer stated that they had invented a new technology called String and that the rival had stolen it. They needed to slow the rival down by attacking its computer system.

Kidd hired his friends: a burglar named LuEllen and an ex-investigative journalist named Dace. He also sometimes called Bobby, a hacker specialized in databases.

After the work had been done, Kidd realized that his employers had not been telling him the truth. He tried to punish them, especially for trying to getting rid of him and his team; but it was almost impossible to hack into their computer system because while Kidd had been working for them, they had learned all about his ways.

The conclusion was quite funny... and simple. Try to think about what will you do if you are fighting against a computer or a robot and had failed to defeat it.

At first I had worried this book would be hard to read, you know, it was about hacking. There were indeed some hard parts, like when the technician explained to Kidd how String worked. But overall I could enjoy reading this book.

Kidd was a Tarot reader. After hired by the aviation company, he "did five quick spreads, and The Fool showed up in critical positions in three of them. The Fool represents a major change that occurs as a natural and inexorable part of life, without your volition, because of the way you live." Thus the title The Fool's Run.

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Library of Gold - Gayle Lynds

Also known as "The Book of Spies". I really enjoyed reading this book, especially because I read that lousy Dan Brown's Inferno before this. Library of Gold has many elements: spies, treasure hunt, crime, politics, betrayals, traitors, hit men, and a little romance.

Spymaster Tucker Andersen from CIA saw his best friend murdered in front of his eyes after telling him about The Library of Gold - a long lost library belonged to Ivan The Terrible - and a secret bank account which involved in a jihad mission. Andersen hired two cilivians: 1) Judd Ryder, former intelligence officer and his best friend's son, and 2) Eva Blake, ex-curator, who was serving jail time for murdering her husband in a car crash. Both Eva & Judd were 32 years old.

The former librarian from The Library of Gold had smuggled one of the books from the library: The Book of Spies; to prove himself. The librarian had been dead after and the book was being displayed in London. Eva Blake was sent to talk around, just in case someone knew about the library. Instead she saw her dead husband - for whom she had spent 2 years in jail - very much alive. As Eva was the only person who could blow his cover, her husband wanted her dead, but then she met Judd Ryder who had been sent to protect her.

The Library of Gold belonged to a book club, its members were rich, powerful people who were also ruthless and egoist. They would do anything to keep the location of the library secret. Eva's husband, however, was the recent librarian, and he prepared clues for Eva so she could find the place and share its glory to the world. Meanwhile, the director of the library sent his security head to eliminate Eva & Judd and anyone else who threatened the library's existence.

Eva Blake turned out to be a worthy companion and she learned fast how to be a spy. Their situation was even more dangerous when Tucker Andersen's boss died and the CIA was shutting down the operation, leaving Andersen, Blake and Ryder alone in a Greek island where the library located, while the library's security men were far outnumbered them.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Inferno - Dan Brown

Dan Brown described Robert Langdon, the hero in his books, as 'a handsome man with thick brown hair'. Yet after the release of The Da Vinci Code movie, I couldn't help thinking about Tom Hanks, and this always ruins the image.

The title of this book means 'hell' and I imagined scary things happened in the story. However, it turned out the story was a Dan Brown standard, which involved run-and-chase scenes, puzzles to solve, and a plot to change the world. Most of the pages were spent to describe paintings, buildings, surroundings and objects. The story began with Robert Langdon woke up in a hospital with an amnesia, to make it more exciting, because after that, there was really not much to happen. This is one of light read books.

A scientist has hidden for a year to develop some kind of new virus, to reduce the world population. The WHO director who has been trying to find him, got clues that involve symbols from Dante's The Divine Comedy - because the scientist is a fan of Dante Alighieri - starts with a Botticeli's Map of Hell. Robert Langdon, a symbol expert, was invited to translate the symbols. He was flown to Florence, Italy, the home of Dante, and the place where the scientist jumped from Badia tower to his death. The virus has been hidden well and will be released at a scheduled time, and Langdon must find it before it's too late.

As usual, there is a young woman at Langdon's side during run-and-chase scenes. In this book, it's Sienna Brooks, a young doctor who treats Langdon in the hospital when he wakes up in the beginning of the story. It will be explained later why she keeps helping him.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Antoine et Antoinette (1947)

From director Jacques Becker, this movie is short and simple. Antoine works in a printing house, cutting books' edges with a machine; while his wife Antoinette waits a photo booth in a supermarket. They are working class people, don't have much money, but they are happy. They rent a little apartment across a grocery whose owner flirts with Antoinette.

One day, the grocer sends Antoinette flowers and this make Antoine angry. Even angrier when he finds out that Antoinette has bought a lottery ticket. "Another wasted 30 francs," he said. However, when he checks the number out, he finds that the ticket wins 800.000 francs and they start to make a list of things they want to buy, and at the top of the list is a motorcycle with a sidecar.

That night Antoine wakes up in the middle of the night and store the ticket inside one of their books. The next morning, the grocer comes again to see Antoinette but she has left for work, and Antoine - who doesn't come to work because he has to go to the bank to pick up his money - meets him instead and while they are arguing, Juliette (a friend) comes to borrow the book where Antoine had put in his lottery ticket. In a hurry, he grabs a ticket from the book without looking, before giving the book to Juliette. Without his knowing, another Antoinette's friend had put another lottery ticket in the book, but this ticket doesn't have a winning number. In the printing house, the boss had given rejected books to Antoine and those books circulating among their friends who borrow them. Remember, this was 1947 and money were spent for food, not for books.

In the metro station, Antoine has lost his wallet, where he put in the lottery ticket. It's like, his dreams won't come true now. Antoinette had heard this sad news, too. Antoine then goes to a bar, where the owner is having a wedding party for his daughter. The bride-groom is the one who found Antoine's wallet earlier that morning and he returns the wallet, but Antoine goes angry when he looks at the ticket, how the number has changed. The bar owner defends his new son-in-law, saying that if he really wanted to swap the ticket he wouldn't have returned the wallet at all.

Antoine goes home to find the grocer is trying to seduce his wife. They are having a duel and Antoine's head hits a rack in the kitchen. He passes out and remembers the details when Juliette came that morning to borrow the book. He opens his eyes and voilĂ ! there is Juliette, in the crowd who watching the duel, holding the book. He gets his lottery ticket back.

The movie ends with Antoine and Antoinette riding their new motorcycle with a sidecar.