Friday, December 23, 2011

The Lion's Game

In ex-NYPD cop and terrorist Task Force contract agent John Corey, author Nelson DeMille has created a character that is a replica of what a real NYPD cop should be -- brass but effective, wise-cracking but intelligent, and street-smart but knows how to navigate his way in and out of the system. He may be obnoxious to others, but he's also loyal to his job and peers.

Asad Kahlil (aka The Lion) is on a mission -- to kill the men responsible for his family's death, in this case, the pilots and navigators of the F-111s that raided Al 'Aziziyah in Libya in retaliation for Libyan involvement in various attacks against American interests in Europe.

The moment the commercial Boeing 747's 'unusual flight' from Paris landed at the JFK Airport, the game was on and the players were put into motion.

Nelson DeMille plotted this novel with attention to some historical events and data incorporated into the course of the story. The dialogues are laden with cop jargon and street lingo but are also serious and humorous in substance at other points.

In a novel of this proportion, some miscues and inaccuracies are inevitable, but the misses are few and forgivable. And the author has more than redeemed himself with crisp pacing and superb storytelling.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

The Rembrandt Affair

I am a thriller junkie, schooled by the old Robert Ludlum school which by any standard is the best in the genre. So, any writer aspiring to be in his league has some huge shoes to fill in my book.

But Daniel Silva had me the moment I first laid my eyes on his novel The Unlikely Spy while browsing the book exchange section of a local library a couple of years ago.

Then I read the first book of the Gabriel Allon series, The Kill Artist, and I was hooked. Since then I have read all of his books and never looked back.

Daniel Silva is one great thriller writer in the league of an Alan Furst or a John Le Carre with a twist. Unlike some of his contemporaries, Silva is a fan of the Mossad, Israel's secret intelligence service, and Gabriel Allon its legendary assassin, is his man.

Gabriel Allon is the sensitive artist and the ruthless assassin whose exploits in and out of the spy game makes him the ideal renaissance man of the espionage world; when he is not tracking and killing the enemies of Israel, he is somewhere restoring old paintings back to their old glory.

In The Rembrandt Affair, Gabriel Allon is once again drawn back into the fire, not by his mentor Ari Shamron, as is usually the case in the past, but by his dear old friend, London art dealer Julian Isherwood.

Isherwood is in a big predicament when an art- restorer he commissioned, who was once Gabriel's classmate and rival when they were both studying under a renowned art teacher, was murdered, and the Rembrandt painting he was working on went missing.

Gabriel Allon simply cannot refuse an old friend in dire straits and went on a quest to find the missing painting that in so doing opened a can of worms while tracing its provenance and made him face the inherent dangers that come with it.

Daniel Silva once again proved his mastery of the genre as he deftly maneuvered Gabriel Allon into the realms of the evil that men do: from the Nazi's systematic art thefts in WWII to a "hidden child" in Amsterdam to the Gnomes that inhabit the Swiss banks and to the man who would stop at nothing and commit murders to prevent his dirty past from ever coming out.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

True Stories of CSI

This book is a re-introduction and re- writing of the various crimes that have been featured on the top- rated show and is a good read by itself to have a general view of the said cases.

But if one considers himself a serious student of crimes even before the onset of the CSI phenomenon, then this book will offer nothing new that you have never read before.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

*Kafka on the Shore

Literature as comics, why not?

Peter Kuper's adaptation of Franz Kafka's classic is a good start for the not-so-serious reader to be introduced and get acquainted to the Czech writer's works.

The comic book is simple and is easy on the eye that gives new life on the old novel that easily metamorphosed into a a serious graphic and dark work of art but still retains Kafka's original narrative and expression.

 This is not only a faithful adaptation but the artwork is also kafkaesque- dark, nightmarish and surreal. Another good introduction to Franz Kafka's brilliant catalog of works.

*with apologies to one of my favorite Japanese writers, Haruki Murakami, for usurping the title of this post from his 2002 fantasy opus.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Once in a Blue Moon: A Juan Luna on eBay

In this day and age, who would have thought that we can still find a Juan Luna painting not in the hands of wealthy private collectors or hanging inside the gallery of established museums?

Well, there is one on eBay right now, the bidding of which will end in less than two days. The bid is now up to $12,000.00 and counting...

The said painting is entitled, "Joaquin Pardo de Tavera- Age Four- 1888" which according to the seller goldeneye, he was commissioned by a US- based descendant of the Pardo de Tavera clan to dispose some of the family's heirlooms which also included old medals, badges, etc. Thus, a note to the skeptics, the provenance of the painting can easily be traced if you ever win the said auction.

However, the said painting has some imperfections (watermarks) and has undergone some restoration in the past by or under the aegis of another famed Filipino Alfonso Tiburcio Ongpin. Still, and being a history buff, the historical value of this work of art is quite significant. It would be awesome if a Filipino will win the auction and return this rare piece of art to the Philippines where it belongs.

And if only I had the money to compete with the other bidders, I would certainly do it in a heartbeat. Yes, reality bites in this case and so I will just be contented watching in the sidelines but not before putting a one- time bid (despite knowing the futility of ever winning the painting) which probably contributed to the bidding frenzy. Thus, I can say that I was part of history when a Luna got sold on eBay.

How's that for showing a bit of a mean streak or in this case, painting envy? hehehe

Thursday, March 24, 2011


Vietnam 1965: Joe Kubert captures the action and confusion of the men in the heat of battle through his ink and style. In this fiction loosely based on real events of the Vietnam War, he was able to depict the story clearly with his unique brand of illustrations- raw, rough and real.

Monday, February 14, 2011


Food for thought for Asian men: “Is your attraction to white women a sublimated form of assimilation?”

Monday, January 24, 2011

WAR as seen through the eyes of Sebastian Junger

A personal experience and in- depth look at the war on terror in Afghanistan's Korengal Valley wherein US Troops were engaged in a war of attrition against a rag-tag but determined group of Taliban fighters whose unwelcome presence is a constant; where living and dying is measured by mere inches and precious seconds.

Sebastian Junger (The Perfect Storm), who was embedded with 2nd Platoon, Battle Company of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team for months, gave us a raw picture, the horrors and reality of war, as seen through the eyes and experiences of the men who were there.

This book is an 'expanded version' of materials culled from his articles on Vanity Fair Magazine about his journey to Afghanistan's Korengal Valley wherein he was on assignment from June 2007 to June 2008.

The book also mentioned the exploits of Specialist Salvatore Giunta, the first living recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War. His unit was ambushed by the enemy and he earned the award for risking his life while preventing a wounded comrade from being captured by the enemy.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Oops, Victoria Secret has done it again

A heavenly and uplifting sight, indeed.

What can I say but...

Brazilian supermodel Adriana Lima and her gorgeous $2 million gemstone- studded bra is a sight to behold.

So, let us all shout our hallelujahs for the miracle that is the bra! And sing our hossanahs for the beauty that is Adriana Lima.

Obladi, Oblada!

La-la-la-life goes on...


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