Falling somewhere between history, historical fiction and spy novel, An Officer and a Spy is a fact-based account of the Dreyfus Affair, one of the more troubling times of the French military. When Alfred Dreyfus is accused and convicted of treason, it takes the newly appointed head of the French spy division, Georges Picquart to ferret out the truth. Robert Harris is a master story-teller, and this book is surely a page turner. At times the story seems unbelievable, or, at best, inconceivable, but the reader has to remember that all the events did actually occur. A definite must for anyone who has read and enjoyed Harris or Jean le Carre, or who is interested in French history.
Not quite “page turner” status, The Third Gate is a decent thriller that takes place in the Sudd (a swamp) of Egypt where a vast team of archaeologists are searching for the remains of Narmer, the Pharaoh that unified the country. To help discover this long lost tomb a doctor who specializes in “near death experiences” is enlisted. Unfortunately, when one “crosses over,” in the neighborhood of tombs with curses on them, bad things are bound to happen, and they do. While the history is interesting (although not all true), and paced pretty well, there really are not enough surprises here to make the book reach its potential to be either truly scary or truly exciting. But it is fun enough for a day on the beach, and definitely for anyone who is a fan of “The Mummy” or similar stories in this genre. – Mr. Silk, Harker teacher
Do you like books that feed your fear that there is an evil corporation ready to take over the world? If so, you will enjoy Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, a fast-paced thriller that ties NGOs, conspiracy theorists, and self-help gurus together as they try to first unravel and then foil a chillingly subversive plot. The book does take a little while to get started, and after the first 50 pages or so may be asking yourself the title of this book. But if you hold on you’ll find a zippy, and mostly believable ride full of nefarious characters, chases, and lots of clever, well-written dialog. Be warned, though, with 50 pages left you may worry that there is no way it will all get wrapped up, and you’d be right. But like the big blockbuster movies, this one is about the journey, not the destination. Definitely 16+ for lots (and lots) of language and drug/alcohol use (but minimal violence). Mr. Anthony Silk (Harker Teacher)
Fans of science fiction with a twist of Egyptology will really enjoy this entry into the Discworld series. “Pyramids” is basically an alternate history, asking what if the ancient pyramids really held magical powers, and what if those powers got out of hand? There is plenty of action, adventure, and comedy throughout the book as we follow the dead king – frustrated that he is being mummified, the new king and his camel (a brilliant mathematician; the camel, not the new king), and the pyramid builders as their world starts to unravel around them. Not for everyone, but if you like stories that are a bit “wacky” this one is for you. – Mr. Tony Silk (Harker teacher)
Have you ever wondered if what’s happening in a book is real, or just going on in your mind? Jasper Fforde answers that question with the first in a continuing series of books that effortlessly blend together science fiction, mystery, and comedy. Set in an alternate reality (our world with subtle changes) the story follows Thursday Next as she moves into and out of fiction – specifically the novel Jane Eyre. If you are a Jane Eyre fan you need to read this book immediately! But if you are a fan of clever dialogue and intriguing plot twists, you will find The Eyre Affair, and the rest of the series, extremely enjoyable. Mr. Silk, Harker teacher
If there was ever a book that defines comedic science fiction, this is it. Based on his own radio scripts (which are also available to read) The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is the first of six books that tell the story of Arthur Dent, a mild-mannered, somewhat helpless Earthling who gets swept up into a space adventure with his best friend Ford, who happens to be an alien, when the Earth is unceremoniously destroyed. Adams keeps the pace brisk in this short novel, introducing a variety of wacky characters as Arthur and Ford hitchhike across the galaxy. Although the science fiction is much more fiction than science, the dialogue is crisp, and the laugh-out-loud moments are frequent. And, while the rest of the series never captures the brilliance of this first book, you’ll be eager to find out what happens to Arthur’s motley crew – if only to discover why all your friends think the number 42 is so hysterical. – Mr. Silk, Harker teacher