Archive for Blockbusters

The Runaway Jury by John Grisham

This is one of my favourite stories by one of my favourite writers. There are some plotlines in books that are totally unbelievable and are pure escapism while there are other plotlines that are extreme yet totally believable. All through this book you find yourself wondering if the kind of activity delivered in the book actually goes on.

The Runaway Jury is simply another great legal thriller by the great American writer John Grisham and another great read! The Pelican Brief, The Client, The Rainmaker etc are all in a class of their own when it comes to looking for a brilliant reading experience. You just can’t go wrong with a John Grisham!

The Runaway JuryThe book is loosely based on the 1957 play “12 Angry Men” by Reginald Rose and unlike the film version in that the plot centres on the dangers of smoking whereas the film starring John Cusack and Gene Hackman was based around the gun industry. If you’re expecting to read the book version of the film you could be disappointed, or on the other hand, you may find that you enjoy the book all the more for its differences.

A case has been brought to court where damages are sought against a tobacco company placing the blame at their doorstep for the death of her husband with to lung cancer. The court case is set to take place in Biloxi in the state of Mississippi where sympathetic juries and tort laws are commonplace. The main character is Nicholas Easter who is what is known as a rogue juror who for money claims to be able to turn a jury on request.

Nicholas Easter goes into court as a brilliant undercover jury candidate and gets himself picked for jury service of a big case against the huge tobacco industry. After that he cleverly plays on the characters of the jury in order to achieve his end goal – to provide those paying for his services the verdict they require. He isn’t working alone as he has co-conspirator Marlee on the outside playing the dangerous game of tying up the loose ends.

Nicholas Easter, as you would expect, is in a lot of danger here, as he puts his life on a limb in order to pull this off. His nemesis is the consultant Rankin Fitch employed by the tobacco company who plants cameras all over the jury inside and out of the courtroom. Nothing can happen without his knowledge or say so. For the sum of £10 million he receives the offer to swing the jury verdict in his client’s favour but he doesn’t like being at the mercy of another. As a result, determined to undercover the mystery juror, he plans to use illegal and dangerous means of his own to gain back his control.

A whole host of interesting characters that make up the Nicholas Easter’s jury such as Frank Herrara ex-military colonel and the white blind foreman Herman Grimes and Nick Easter is amongst them busy sowing the seeds of reasonable doubt. Read it! Then read “The Client” by John Grisham, another fantastic read!

The Odessa File by Frederick Forsyth

The Odessa File is an explosive journey of one man’s search for retribution of a crime and crimes committed decades ago. The Nazi’s state sponsored genocide of millions of people is relived through this book, specifically in the journal of the concentration camp survivor Salomon Tauber. I am surprised to hear young people announce they have no idea of the atrocities during World War Two – it is shocking to think the occurrences of the Holocaust are gradually becoming forgotten over time. We owe it to those people who lost their lives, their families and their freedom to the Nazi occupation to never forget what they went through. The Odessa File, is a disturbing tale with its foundations in actual events. This is not light reading although I would highly recommend you read this book. It is not escapism but a fictional account of a terrible atrocity that occurred just over half a century ago.

The Odessa FileYou live out the story through the character Peter Miller – a freelance German journalist. When he sniffs out a story his whole life becomes consumed with reaching a conclusion. At the beginning of the book he uncovers something called the ODESSA FILE (veiled in secrecy, the file contains information concerning the relocation and repatriation of senior German officers. Their identities a closely guarded secret allowing their escape from attempts at retribution and prosecution following World War Two.)

As briefly mentioned earlier, Peter the journalist, after reading the journal of an elderly jewish survivor of the Riga ghetto (Tauber) he decides to track down a particular Captain Eduard Roschmann commonly known as ‘the Butcher of Riga’ who was observed killing a German army officer. When the authorities fail to show any interest that the Butcher of Riga is alive, Peter takes matters into his own hands by attempting to infiltrate the ODESSA. With the assistance of the Israeli secret agency Mossad Peter completely changes his identity and becomes immersed into that of a former SS sergeant. The training is long and hard going but in the end Peter succeeds in pulling the wool over the eyes of the Odessa. The story reaches its climax when Peter Miller confronts the Butcher of Riga for his crimes.

This is one of those books that are heavily based in historical fact – the Holocaust was something I knew very little about when I read The Odessa File but have since read a lot on the subject. Even the ‘Nazi Hunter’ war criminal investigator Simon Wiesanthal was introduced as one of the characters in the book as our protagonist Peter went to him when the German authorities refused to become involved in the bringing of Eduard Roschmann to trial for his crimes of over thirty years ago.

Other great books by Frederick Forsyth include The Day of the Jackal and The Dogs of War.

The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown

With the exception of Fifty Shades of Grey, I don’t think any other work of fiction has caused such a stir! Reading this work of fiction might very well change your life. If it hadn’t been for Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code I may never have found myself visiting the breathtaking Roslyn Chapel in Scotland – it was a very enjoyable experience and one that I would recommend. More importantly, if it hadn’t been for this book, this beautiful church would have been left to become a ruin, like so much of our British heritage.

The DaVinci Code begins at the Louvre Museum in Paris. A museum curator is running from a malevolent monk who plans to interrogate him before murdering him.

The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown

The next thing we hear is that the curator has left a series of clues with his naked body at the centre arranged to resemble Da Vinci’s The Vitruvian Man with a pentacle drawn across his body with his own blood. Only one man can solve this arrangement of cryptic puzzles and that’s our protagonist Professor Robert Langdon, world-renowned symbologist! What follows is a cat and mouse chase between Robert Langdon, the estranged grand daughter of the museum curator and the French police who are working for people within Opus Dei – a Catholic church based secret society.

The Da Vinci Code travels through time from the early times of the Bible throughout history as you discover the work and purpose of the Templar Knights. One moment you’re in France, then you find you’re in the Temple Church, London, then across to Roslyn Chapel in Scotland where the story reaches its conclusion.

What an amazing exciting journey involving what could be the biggest cover up of all the time, the existence of the Holy Grail. Did it really exist?

What is especially intriguing about this book is that a good number of conspiracy theories are addressed such as the existence of Priory of Zion of which Leonardo Da Vinci was once a grand master, the protection of the Holy Grail by the Knights Templar, the existence of the Opus Dei for destruction of anything that threatens the catholic church. This is gritty stuff. Read also The Lost Symbol and Angels and Demons by Dan Brown for similar conspiracy question marks. Whether these books are complete works of fiction, Dan Brown should be patted on the back for opening our eyes to the bigger picture out there in the big wide world! Above all, I would recommend that you purchase the illustrated version of The Da Vinci Code – it’s a treat!