You’ve done it. You’ve arrived at my website. Poke around. I’m sure you’ll find something interesting. Most of the fiction and non-fiction can be downloaded from their respective pages. The chocolate/cocoa blog is dormant and has been that way for the past two years. The mystery and writing blogs get updated when I feel up to it. Cheers.
My sweetie found this one on the free table at the local library. I’m a big John LeCarré fan, but I had never read this one. A Call For the Dead was LeCarré’s first novel from 1961. It’s also the novel that introduces George Smiley for the first time. Right on the first page of the chapter one we get to know Smiley in this unforgettable line, “Short, fat and of a quiet disposition, he appeared to spend a lot of money on really bad clothes, which hung about his squat frame like skin on a shrunken toad.” What powerful language to introduce your protagonist.
Over eight pages, we learn of all Smiley’s history, how he got to be a spy, worked in Germany under the cover of an exchange scholar to recruit agents for the British, how he was called back to London when his cover had worn off, and how he started preparing for retirement by checking up on high civil servants to make sure they aren’t spying for the Communists.
I just closed my Google account. It was easy. Log in, choose ‘My Account,’ select ‘Delete Account,’ ignore dire warnings of your life as you know it ending, done.
Getting to this point took over a month. I signed up with Gmail in 2007. I was about to quit my job and needed a personal email address. Google was the cool new service on the block, so I signed up. Then came GrandCentral (which eventually became Google Voice), YouTube, Docs, Picasa, Maps, Analytics and probably more, all tied to my Gmail address. It took a while to disentangle my digital life from Google. I even had to pay three bucks to get my Google Voice number ported to my cell phone.
Why leave Google now? The NSA information released by Edward Snowden was the precipitating incident. Knowing that the US spooks were targeting Google both via FISC orders and by tapping into Google’s internal networks was disturbing enough. But it wasn’t the primary reason. I make regular phone calls to Germany and have know for a long time that these were subject to NSA interception. Yeah, yeah, they weren’t supposed to since I am a US person, but I wasn’t having any illusions about that. I also don’t believe that my current email address via my hosting company is any more secure. I might figure out how to do encryption but don’t hold your breath.
This novel was my first introduction to the inspector Lynley mysteries. I may have seen one episode on PBs, but I had never read a novel featuring him. It was a long novel, very long, but, to its credit, I have to say the story kept me engaged.
George takes her time. The novel starts in media res, a lone hiker along the Cornwall coast finds a dead body at the bottom of a cliff. The young climber had obviously fallen from the cliff. The hiker finds the closest inhabited place, a weekend cottage owned by a vet. When she arrives up, she’s startled to find the stranger waiting in her house. He takes her to the body, she recognizes the teenager, they go off to the local inn to call the police.
That starts a long, meandering story as involved as a Russian novel with almost as many characters. The hiker turns out to be Lynley, who’s ran away from his life after his wife was killed by a mugger on the street in front of their house. The vet, Daidre Trahair, isn’t as uninvolved as she leads on. The local cops aren’t of much use. DI Bea Hannafort takes over the case. She has her own problems with shuffling her teenage son to her ex-husband so she can focus on the case.
Jack Reacher has finally made it back to Virginia. Except what he finds isn’t what he was looking for. If you recall, Reacher was stuck in North Dakota four books ago (62 Hours). While helping the local police department to keep a witness alive, he ended up talking to the commanding officer of his old MP unit, Major Susan Turner. He liked her voice and decided to go to Virginia to meet her. It took him a while to get there (Worth Dying For and A Wanted Man) were stations along the way.
In any case, when he gets to the 110th, everything is upside down. Major Turner isn’t there. Instead a Lt. Colonel tells him that he’s accused of a crime Reacher was supposed to have committed sixteen years ago. In addition, a paternity claim has been laid against him. And he informs Reacher that, by the way, he’s recalled to active duty. He is brought to a nearby hotel where two thugs, obviously military in mufti tell him to disappear or else.
And, with that, we’re off. The book is very fast paced and full of tension. Whenever you think Reacher has beat his pursuers, they have another trick up their sleeve. The hunt takes them from Virginia to Pittsburgh to Los Angeles. Once in L.A., the book starts dragging a little. By that time, the MPs, the FBI, the DC Metro Police and the bad guys are after him and Turner. I was disappointed by the ending. SPOILER ALERT! The suicide at the end seems like a copout. That notwithstanding, I found the book hard to put down.