Wednesday, July 23, 2014

"A Devil Is Waiting" by Jack Higgins

Jack Higgins remains of one my favorite writers of political and espionage thrillers.  In "A Devil Is Waiting" he takes the reader through a whirlwind tour of the world as it exists after the death of Osama Bin Laden.  Al Qaeda still exists and wants to demonstrate to the world its continuing power by launching an attack as the U.S. President visits London.

A motley cast of characters is drawn from all over the world - the Prime Minister's private anti-terrorism team, former IRA terrorists turned government muscle, a rich Sephardic Jewish soldier named Sara who has been commandeered into the special private army because of her linguistic skills and battlefield track record.  We also have a French foreign Legion veteran, an Al Qaeda leader hiding in Afghanistan, a few thugs and a whole lot of chaos.

Higgins knows the dark worlds well.  His writing about places and weaponry and tactics smacks of someone who has been there and carefully recorded nuanced thought patterns and speech patterns of the denizens of these dark worlds.

Whenever I finish a Jack Higgins novel, I am hungry to read the next one.



A Gem of a Novel Containing Many Deep Lessons - "The Grotto Under The Tree" by John A. Theo, Jr.

John A. Theo, Jr. has written a wonderful young adult novel that reminded me at several levels of some of C.S. Lewis' works.  Think of "The Lion, Witch and The Wardrobe" with a touch of "Prince Caspian."  As I read this book, "The Grotto Under The Tree," I kept thinking to myself: "I can't wait to bring this book with me to London and read it to my grandchildren!"

Sebastian and Sara are best friends.  As they visit the remains of a favorite tree that had been struck by lighting, they are magically transported to an underground world where elves, mermaids, gnomes and other mystical creatures battle with forces of evil called the Kylo.  While the world that Sebastian and Sara visit is very different from the one they knew above ground, it is described beautifully and clearly in Mr. Theo's very elegant style of writing.

Sebastian is book smart, but physically clumsy.  Sarah is gifted athletically.  As the story progresses, these characteristics are amplified, and each one learns to use their strength to help their new underground friends fight off a devastating attack from the Kylo.

There are many moral lessons contained within this allegory - without it feeling preachy or didactic.  During a climactic battle, the children learn deep lessons of sacrifice, the meaning of true love and the need for forgiveness. The Elf Lord Capri is a spirit guide through this magical world that leads Sebastian and Sara all the way to the Arctic Circle.

I loved this little gem of a book.