The second-half storm

Brothas and sisters, the end is near: the end of financial year, that is. This means claiming back part of your taxes, midyear sales, and shopping sprees. ‘Everything must go’ is a popular slogan at the midway point. Regardless, too much economics make Topher a dull boy. Nearing the second half buzzer also involves cataloguing the year’s reads up to that point. I have devoured five books up to now, way behind my chiropractor: he managed ten texts. His girlfriend takes the cake with twenty volumes. In chronological order, here is my text list:




  1. The Rooster Bar. I’ve posted about this in the past, comparing it to Garland’s The Beach. Grisham’s second novel of 2017, the book was released in spring (autumn in the U.S.). It’s about three friends at Foggy Bottom Law School who piece together the great law school scam. They become street lawyers who hustle D.C.’s courtrooms, complete with fake credentials. Being conned by America’s student loans system, they fight back and game the system themselves. An action packed read that’s nostalgic, bringing us back to the time when we were also college students. While a light read, it tackles pervasive social issues such as racism, immigration, red tape, and those suffocating student debts.  Rating: **** (out of four)
  2. The Black Box (Michael Connelly). A murder mystery from one of the foremost thriller writers alive. An older book, released in 2012, this was back when Detective Harry Bosch was still with the LAPD (since retired and transferred to San Fernando). Full of smoke and mirrors, misdirection and backdrop plays in basketball parlance. The novel unfolds with a murder at the heart of the LA Riots and racial tensions at an all time high. Fast forward twenty years later and Bosch tries to crack a case that has been forgotten for two decades. As Bosch follows the leads, and asks questions, someone doesn’t want him sticking his nose after all this time. Simultaneously, his work life becomes a nightmare as he butts heads with his superior, all because he couldn’t let it go. Knowing Bosch, he will move heaven and earth to obtain justice for Snow White. Strap yourself for one helluva read. Rating: ***
  3. Extreme Measures (Vince Flynn). Book number nine in Flynn’s Mitch Rapp series. Having checked out the first two instalments, this volume is set many moons later. Irene Kennedy is now CIA director, Rapp is higher up than prior, and Stan Hurley is ageing gracefully, handing out advice to the young guns. The plot involves Rapp trying to beat the terrorists while Congress interference slows him down. There are three terror cells, and the only active one is training in South America, funded by Al Qaeda. Their aim: to strike at the heart of America. The bureaucrats’ ambitions blind them and they are non-believing of the impending doom. With the potential to hit closer to home than previously thought, it’s up to the good guys to put out the fire before it’s too late. Rating: ***
  4. Transfer of Power. Flynn’s debut novel was first published in 2000. His in-your-face story of terrorists taking over the White House seemed prophetic, with the 9/11 attacks occurring a year later. This is so titled since the Vice President undertakes the duties of the U.S. Head of State, who is confined to his bunker after the terror takeover. Well written and well structured, you could see why he carved out a niche readership. His first salvo captured the fears of a nation: that of being overran by rogue Jihadists right at their doorstep. He likewise built his characters well in a fast paced thriller that set the tone for the much-loved series. His chapters are well spaced and the siege brings out the readers’ emotions. Bad guys have never been more brazen, and the goodies have never been more challenged. More than a history lesson, it’s a cautionary tale on being too complacent. Rating: ***1/2
  5. The Woman in the Window. In the vein of Hitchcock and Nietzsche, a troubled lady is confined to her house after a crippling accident. She is separated from her husband and child, and spends her days watching her neighbours from her window. She gains weight, gets everything delivered, and is in her bathrobe all day. She over indulges on wine, and her mind is playing tricks on her. Or is it? A throwback to the old days, complete with black and white DVD’s. One of my more polarising reads this year (still unfinished as of yet). I love the original plot, the characters, the drama, but hate the highfaluting vocab, the excessive description, the somewhat turtle pace. If you’re after something different, then this is the book for you, but be prepared to spend bury your head in the dictionary.



So that’s it, 4.75 engrossing reads through almost the last five months. Five authors, a cluster of novels: I devoured every page. The publication date, from the naughties to this year, matters little. Remember: don’t judge a book by its age, but by how it could pull readers of all races, creeds, and age.

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