Sunday 16 April 2017

Books, not bunnies, for this Easter weekend post...

On this glorious Easter Sunday morning, as I sip my deliciously creamy chai tea and nibble away at a Date Bar, I am feeling very thankful for the lovely weather we’ve been having this weeknd.  I have opened all the windows this morning and can hear the delightful sounds of Spring.

On a less delightful note, last week I read a novel of political corruption and greed .  The Eyes of Lira Kazan by Eva Joly and Judith Perrignon is an international thriller that spans the globe, from Nigeria to Russia, the Faroe Islands, England and France, and tells the story of an unlikely group of individuals who team up to expose the criminal activity of some very wealthy and powerful men.  The novel opens with Nwankwo Ganbo, the head of the Nigerian Fraud Squad, gathering his family together as they prepare for evacuation and relocation under fear of death after Ganbo’s righthand man is found murdered.  In St Petersburg, Lira Kazan is a journalist who has doggedly investigated the life and livelihood of mega-wealthy oligarch Sergei Louchsky, but she has faced threats and obstacles at every turn.  And in Nice, Félix, a court clerk with a keen intuition, convinces his judge and friend to dig deeper into the seemingly accidental drowning of the wife of a prominent Scandinavian banker off their yacht while in French waters.  During a trip to France to meet up with her daughter, Lira undertakes further investigations into Louchsky as he is in Paris to meet with the Prime Minister to secure a trade deal, but she becomes the victim of an acid attack, which she is sure is connected to Louchsky.  While she recovers, she meets Ganbo and Félix, and together they formulate a plan to expose the fraudulent, duplicitous actions of a network of individuals from these different countries as they converge in Paris for Louchsky's fortieth birthday bash.  Intrigued by the cover design and title, I pulled it down from my bookshelf with no expectation, and I was pleasantly surprised.  This fast-paced, plot-driven thriller moved seamlessly from one country to another, and took this reader on a  roller-coaster ride of corruption and exposure.  The main characters are flawed yet credible: they all want to do the right thing, regardless of the cost.  I don’t normally read this type of novel, but every once in awhile, I like to dive into a book that will suck me in and pull me along, keeping me turning pages to find out what happens next.  Hmmm… I guess this is sort of like the John Le Carré novels I’ve enjoyed in the past, The Constant Gardener or Our Kind of Traitor.  Joly is a french magistrate and politician and Perrignon is a french journalist, so it's no wonder this story is so convincing. Filled with suspense, this novel is sure to please fans of international political thrillers.

Since I couldn’t put this novel down, I finished it in just a few days, so I decided to pick up something that I thought would be a bit lighter.  I have enjoyed novels by Australian author Liane Moriarty in the past, and so I pulled down a copy of The Hypnotist’s Love Story that was discarded from the library (this seemed to be the week to read books from my own bookshelves for a change!).  Told from alternating points of view, this novel explores relationships in all their many forms and statuses.  Ellen O”Farrell, a hypnotherapist in Sydney, has a beautiful beachfront house that she inherited from her grandparents, and is financially secure as she runs her hypnotherapy business from her own home. At the age of thirty-five, all she wants now is to find a man and settle down.  Then she meets Patrick using an online dating service, and she thinks that he could be the one.  He is a widower with an eight-year-old son, Jack, who runs his own business as a surveyor.  He seems practically perfect… except for his stalker.  Ex-girlfriend Saskia is a forty-two year old woman who has been split up from Patrick for three years.  But just because you are no longer in a relationship with someone, doesn’t mean you instantly stop caring about them, does it?  A successful professional, she seems normal in every way, but her need to be involved in Patrick’s and Jack’s lives is an addiction that she can’t seem to overcome.  Strangely enough, Ellen finds the idea of Patrick’s stalker not scary, but kind of intriguing, and she does her best to deal with Saskia’s existence in their lives even as she battles to compete with Patrick’s deceased “perfect” wife Colleen.  With Moriarty's characteristic wit and insight, this novel explores the many faces of love and different types of commitment.  While not as polished as The Husband’s Secret or Big Little Lies, and somewhat overlong, this novel is suspenseful and a little bit creepy, while still managing to be light and breezy.  I’m not quite finished yet, but there have been a number of unexpected plot twists that would have foreshadowed her great success with the aforementioned novels (this one came out before The Husband’s Secret). I'm expecting to reach this novel's sure-to-be satisfying conclusion by the end of today.

And the tempestuous weather we always experience at this time of year, cold and sleeting one minute, warm and rainy the next, then sunny, but almost always very windy, reminded me of a book I read a few years ago by Liz Jensen, The Rapture, an apocalyptic eco-thriller that I remember really enjoying.  I’ve put it on hold and just picked it up from the library.  I may have time to reread it, but there were also five other holds for me to pick up, so how do I choose?!

OK, that’s enough book talk on this Easter morning.  Good luck hunting Easter eggs!

Bye for now…

PS Don’t forget the upcoming Book Sale next weekend:

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