Several books by Robert Harris have been recommended to me, and The Fear Index is reviewed on this site: https://bookreviewstoday.info/2017/07/20/the-fear-index-by-robert-harris/ . However, I the first read Pompeii when it was book of the month in our local book group. Robert Harris is a British author and previous journalist and BBC television reporter. Pompeii was originally published by Random House in 2003. The ability to disguise the outcome is held to be a vital part of the thriller writer’s art. Robert Harris, though, has built a major career in the form through open defiance of this rule. Indeed, Harris is successful in making us flinch and fear for characters who are going to a doom which we know before them.
Pompeii, although it is an ancient story, is one which still holds fascination for us. Robert Harris is an author who can comfortably shoulder the mantle of the old fashioned storyteller. Pompeii is the story of Marcus Attilius Primus, the aquarius, or chief water engineer, who is sent to the Bay of Naples to manage the water supply to all of the towns in the area.
The main artery of the supply is the aqueduct, Aqua Augusta, which Attilius’s grandfather may have built under the supervision of the great Agrippa. Water engineering has been the career path of Atillius’s family back through at least four generations. However, Attilius is up against it. His predecessor disappeared mysteriously, and neither his team of engineers and slaves nor the masters who govern Naples and the surrounding area, are inclined to trust him as the new aquarius.
From the first chapter the reader is gripped by the horrendous execution of a slave who has been held responsible for the death of one of the local lord’s prize fish. The lord’s daughter, accompanied by the unfortunate slave’s mother, urgently seek the help of Attilius. He quickly discovers that it is something in the water that has killed the precious fish. Unfortunately, it is too late to save the wretched slave.
Events unfold and develop during the two days leading up to the famous eruption which buried Pompeii. There are many dangers to overcome, and, the reader wonders who will survive and who will not: it does not become clear until the final pages.
I do not often go back to a book, but I reread this marvellous book when my husband and I recently visited the ruins of the city Pompeii. That is a sign of how well Robert Harris engages the reader with the characters in this book.
If you enjoy historical fiction, or thrillers, I highly recommend this book.
My local library was selling some discontinued books in aid of Macmillan Cancer Nurses and the novels by author Chris Carter had been recommended to me. So, when I noticed that one of the books for sale was An Evil Mind by Chris Carter, I decided to buy it to take on holiday. Carter is a criminal psychologist and this novel was based on subjects he encountered in his professional capacity. It is a chilling thought and makes for a disconcerting read.
The main protagonist, Robert Hunter, is a detective with LAPD who becomes enlisted to work with the FBI when his friend, Lucien Folter, from his days at Stanford, attracts the attention of law enforcement after a random traffic accident finds two severed heads in the trunk of his hired car. From the very start, the reader is absolutely shaken and stirred by the events that follow. For my money, Carter has written one of the finest opening chapters that I have read in terms of shock value. The transition from languid breakfast time in an all American diner to the impact (literally) of a freak occurrence that heralds a shocking opening to the book, is beautifully played out.
Lucien, says that he will only speak with his former friend and detective, Robert Hunter, and so the game is afoot. What follows is a titanic mental battle between the evil, clever and highly manipulative Folter, and Hunter, a man incredibly pre-disposed to navigate and decipher the actions and motivations of some of the most disturbed individuals with his innate intuition in relation to the darkest human psyches. As quickly as Hunter appears to break down the twisted actions of Folter, in a series of claustrophobic encounters with fascinating and entertaining verbal sparring, Folter begins to resemble an evil onion, with layers of perversity and wickedness that are revealed piece by piece. Folter has prepared a whole series of unique and nasty surprises for both Hunter and the FBI team, that Carter unleashes with a superb sense of pace and timing, so much so that as each chapter ends only the strongest reader will resist the temptation to stay firmly rooted to the spot to continue reading.
As the book rattles towards an incredibly tense, violent and exciting ending, the torment that Folter projects on Hunter and the team is nerve shredding and simply brilliant. I liked this book very much, providing as it does, not only a tense and disturbing thriller, but in its perfect placing of brutal shocks reveals itself as a violent flight of fancy, that entertains throughout. I highly recommend An Evil Mind and, although this was the first novel by Chris Carter that I have read, but it certainly will not be my last.
The author was born in Brasilia, Brazil where he spent my childhood and teenage years. After graduating from high school, he moved to the USA and studied psychology with specialization in criminal behaviour. He worked as a criminal psychologist for several years before moving to Los Angeles, where he swapped the suits and briefcases for ripped jeans, bandanas and an electric guitar. After a spell playing for several well known glam rock bands, he decided to try my luck in London, where he played for a number of famous artists. He then toured the world several times as a professional musician but a few years ago he gave it all up to become a full time writer. I, for one, am glad he did.
My friend, Harry Hunter, kindly gave me a copy of his new book, ‘Orrible ‘Ooligans, and it seemed only right to prepare a review, but as ever, it is an honest review. Harry’s first book, Taking the High Road, a book of short stories, is also reviewed on this site at https://bookreviewstoday.info/2014/10/22/taking-the-high-road-by-harry-hunter/.
The new book, ‘Orrible ‘Ooligans, cleverly takes the idea of acrostics and uses that to unite a series of spiritual and meaningful reflections. It is an interesting book to keep close. It is also useful for those who require to provide prayers or spritual thoughts for meetings. Those might include scout leaders, Women’s Institute leaders and religious leaders. Many of the themes are Christian.
I enjoy delving into this modest little book. It is a most worthwhile addition to my library.