“The Paris Protection” by Bryan Devore (Bryan Devore, 2015)

Paris Protection

The Secret Service is in some ways like the NSA, CIA or some other government lesser known acronym group: just about everyone knows who they are, but they don’t really know exactly how they operate or what they do. The Secret Service’s job is to protect the President of the United States 24/7, no matter what it takes. Their lives are always on the line for this one person. But what does this truly unique job entail?

The premise for The Paris Protection seems somewhat mundane and ordinary: a terrorist group has infiltrated the hotel where the United States President is staying and plans to assassinate her. They are fully confident in their success, while the Secret Service knows the job they have to do.

Abigail Clarke has done a lot of work – as a state prosecutor, US Senator, and governor of Virginia – and sacrificed much to become one of the most powerful and important people on the planet; many say the most important. President Clarke does not take her job lightly and has very little free time. She is now in Paris for a summit meeting as she hopes to bring the prickly subject of organized crime to the international stage and address it as a terrorist attack. For now, the day’s work is done and she is at her hotel carrying out various conference calls with important people back on US soil and around the world.

Maximillian Wolff, who once served on the Israeli Security Protection team when Yitzak Rabin was assassinated, has suffered much during his life and holds the United States accountable for its world domination, and with a huge and highly trained team of mercenaries, his plan is to remove the head of power and bring the US to its knees. His right hand man, Kazim Aslan, has spent his time as an insurgent soldier in Iraq who has lost loved ones because of the United States’ policies and wants their assassination plan to be just as successful. Maximillian also has a hero: Hannibal Barca who once brought Rome to its knees.

The Paris Protection is three-hundred-and-fifty-odd pages that is anything but ordinary and mundane. Devore skillfully takes the reader step by step through the attack, giving POVs from both sides and plenty of detail of tactics, weaponry, and skill. It is a gripping thriller at its best. Here and there, he provides some back story to his characters–again on both sides–that help the reader understand what is fueling their desire and drive. Maximillian goes into numerous contemplations of how Hannibal handled certain situations to help them in their current one, which is juxtaposed with Secret Service Agents contemplating their skill and training and what past agents have done in similar situations.

It is the ideal blend of action and story with plenty of well-researched details that keep the reader glued to the page. The story passes throughout the hotel with some impressive “battles,” eventually leading down deep into the haunting Paris catacombs that serves as a terrifying arena for a chase scene. The Paris Protection is one of those books where you don’t know who will make it out alive and how it’s really going to end; a perfect example of the thriller genre.

First published in Manhattan Book Review.

Originally written on October 27, 2015 ©Alex C. Telander.

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On the Road Again . . .

Tomorrow I will be getting on a flight bound for Paris, then eventually getting on anther bound for London for my brother’s wedding taking place on Monday.  I expect to have some sort of Internet connection at some point while over there for a week, but I’m not certain.  BookBanter will be quiet for a little while, unless I do have a solid daily connection and will make posts when I can.  The plan is to see some of Paris between flights, then on Saturday to travel to beautiful Somerset for the wedding location.  I will, of course, be taking A LOT of photos.

See you on the other side . . .

“The Skeleton Key: A Short Story Exclusive” by James Rollins (Kindle, 2011)

Skeleton Key

Bestselling author James Rollins’ SIGMA series features a number of popular and powerful characters that readers have become quite attached to, and none is more interesting than the beautiful and mysterious Seichan.  In this short story exclusive, “The Skeleton Key,” readers get to see Seichan working on a solo mission that she never intended to get involved in.

Seichan wakes up to find herself in hotel room in Paris; she’s been knocked out with something unknown and has no memory of how she got here.  Then there’s the strange electronic collar around her neck that can’t been detached and seems like it may contain an explosive device.  In the room is also a stranger, a Scottish boy also wearing a collar who doesn’t know how he got there either.  Then she gets the call from an old enemy, one who is involved with the clandestine Guild which Seichan used to work for and is now trying hard to bring down and stop.  In return for her freedom and an important document, she must find this man’s son, alive.

Her journey will take her deep into the catacombs of Paris, filled with history and stories of death, secrecy, and in this case an apocalyptic cult.  Using her new friend’s knowledge of this cult which his girlfriend is involved with, and the map tattooed on his back, she hopes to find this cult and put a stop to whatever they’re doing, before someone decides to trigger the bomb attached to her throat.

Rollins delivers classic action, thrill and intrigue, along with a fascinating history lesson into the dark necropolis beneath beautiful Paris, which will keep readers hooked to the very end.  Plus there’s some important story hear, as Seichan is provided with an important clue, leading up to Rollins’ next SIGMA book, Devil Colony, due out June 21st.

Originally written on May 30, 2011 ©Alex C. Telander.

“The Invention of Hugo Cabret” by Brian Selznick (Scholastic, 2007)

The Invention of Hugo Cabretstarstarstarstarstar

Brian Selznick, who previously has done a mixture of writing and illustration, brings us his greatest creation to date: The Invention of Hugo Cabret.  The main character, Hugo, is a young orphan who used to live with his uncle behind the scenes of a Paris train station.  Then his uncle died, and Hugo now spends his time, in the late 1930s, winding up and oiling, fixing and maintaining the many clocks and devices around the train station, all alone.  He is rarely seen and actually lives behind the walls, while thousands of people, day to day, travel to make their trains, or disembark for other destinations.

It is on one day that he gets to know the man who owns the newsagents in the train station, after befriending his daughter.  The story slowly unfolds that the man is actually George Méliès, one of the most important people in the early days of film, his most famous piece being about four men who traveled to the moon known as A Trip to The Moon, with the memorable image of the dough-like moon with a face grimacing as the bullet-like ship is shot into its eye.  Méliès died in 1938, but it is in this story that he lives on, working in obscurity at the newsagents.  The story unravels further to reveal an inextricable link between Méliès and Hugo.

While this would be an enjoyable story in its own right, Selznick has created a new medium using not just words, or pictures, or illustrations, but incorporating all three into a chronological miasma.  The book begins like a movie, with fifty pages of gray illustration as we zoom in on the train station, into the clock and Hugo Cabret.  Then there is the start of the story in word form, but instantly switching to illustration again, and then cutting to photographs where necessary.  The difference here is that the illustrations are not revealing the written word, but continuing the story of the word.  You cannot skip one or you miss the story.  The Invention of Hugo Cabret uses all these forms to make this not just a book, but a collection of illustrations, and a type of movie or flicker-book that are all interwoven to tell the story of Hugo Cabret and his relationship with George Méliès, one of the original geniuses in the early days of film.

If you liked this review and are interested in purchasing this book, click here.

Originally written on April 28th, 2007 ©Alex C. Telander.