Monday, March 30, 2009

Moscow Rules

I've traveled the world twice over,
Met the famous; saints and sinners,
Poets and artists, kings and queens,
Old stars and hopeful beginners,
I've been where no-one's been before,
Learned the secrets from writers and cooks,
All with one library ticket
To the wonderful world of books.
Great quote, and I think it fits my review of this book beautifully!

Moscow Rules
Daniel Silva

Moscow Rules is the 8th book in the Gabriel Allon series by Daniel Silva. If you haven't read any of the series, let me introduce you to Gabriel Allon: one of the top agents in the Israeli-Intelligence agency, Mossad; talented, gifted, moody, but when he has to go on a mission his fellow operatives line up to work with him. His true passion is art restoration and Allon is one of the top art restorers in the world. The time, care, respect and love he gives his paintings overflows into his missions. No matter how many times Allon has told Mossad he is retired, when they need him, off he goes.

How has Russia changed since the fall of communism? Is Russia happier? Is life better? Besides Russia becoming a country of very wealthy people, how have they fared since the Cold War? Silva, who went to Moscow for his research, doesn't give that impression. Here he gives us insight on the current political climate, Russians are still anti-American, they smile at your face, but be careful turning your back. The new (rich) Russians have easy access to all of Europe and brought back to Moscow what they consider the best of Europe, but made it bigger. It is mentioned several times that Russia has to have the biggest of anything and everything in the world, the biggest this, the biggest that, so it would stand to reason that they would have the biggest arms dealer in the world.

In Moscow Rules, Allon is sent to bring down Russian businessman Ivan Kharkov, who is the world's biggest arms dealer. He sells to the highest bidder, no matter who they are. Kharkov is very wealthy, powerful and ruthless....and plans to stay that way. If anyone gets in his way, they won't be there for long. Two newspaper reporters who attempted to investigate him and his dealings have ended up dead. Since his current clients include al-Qaeda terrorists, America and Israel are very interested in him. To accomplish their mission it is decided to use Kharkov's wife, and luckily, she is an art lover.

It is very unusual, but we have the Israelis. Americans, British and French secret agencies working together to accomplish this very intricate, delicate, dangerous mission that takes the agents all over the world, and into Moscow, where people still can disappear. It seems there really are Moscow rules, every spy and intelligence agent knows them---no matter which agency they are attached to.

In the Allon series, when all the pieces have been put together, when it's time to put everything in motion, when the players are all in place and the clock has started ticking.... the pace picks up and I don't care what time it is, I am going to get to the last page....I just need to know how it ends.

I read Silva's first book in 1996, The Unlikely Spy, and he had me hooked. This is one of my favorite books to recommend to people and when they come back and rave about it I like the fact it is still holding up. For me, Silva is one of the best espionage writers today; he has been compared to Forsyth, Ludlum and le Carre. (Okay, personally....I don't think anyone can touch le Carre, especially his early stuff.)

Daniel Silva has another page turner. I enjoyed it, couldn't put it down. After reading this, I will not be going to Moscow...ever. (I don't think Silva should go back either.) Silva usually takes current events and entwines them in his thrillers. If you haven't read Daniel Silva, give yourself a treat and pick one up. I recommend him to anyone who enjoys thrillers and they come back and rave about him.
I am looking forward to Gabriel Allon's next adventure in The Defector this summer. From what I have read and heard, it will be a continuation of Moscow Rules. Someone Allon thought was a friend, well, let's just say that things aren't always what they appear.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Libraries Should Never Be Shushed

"It's funny that we think of libraries as quiet demure places where we are shushed by dusty, bun-balancing, bespectacled women. The truth is libraries are raucous clubhouses for free speech, controversy and community. Libraries have stood up to the Patriot Act, sat down with noisy toddlers and reached out to illiterate adults. Libraries can never be shushed."

Paula Poundstone

Unfortunately, libraries being shushed might just happen. Reading page 15 of the current issue of the Suffolk Times about Governor Patterson's proposed budget calls for cutting 17%, $600,000.00, from the Suffolk Cooperative Library System and the possibility of the Southold Town Board cut of $10,000.00 from its budget, libraries will face a hardship. Go to page 25 and there is a listing of what libraries are offering.

There is the saying that "libraries will get you through in a time of no money, but money won't get you through in a time of no libraries." With the economic times we are experiencing libraries fill a need more then ever. People have to cut back on things to make ends meet and the library helps fill that void. We have the daily newspapers, current issues of many (many) magazines, latest DVDs and Cd's, and the books on the best sellers list. Libraries run numerous Children's' programs, adult programs, exercise classes, wireless access, training classes (How to write a resume is one that is full), Mah Jongg....I could go on and on but the point being, a library is a vital part of a community and has a lot to offer. Next Saturday, March 14 at 3pm is author Alan Furst who is one of the best spy novelist writing today. (Spy readers! Treat yourself to an Alan Furst novel if you haven't.)

Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones commented "...the public library is a great equalizer." True. With a library card you have the world at your fingertips. You are entitled to whatever your mood feels like. Want to go to the Middle East...check out a book, fiction, non-fiction or a travel book...don't forget a DVD! Take a trip back in time? History is there to feed your soul. Science fiction? Your library has the latest and best. A particular person whose life you want to know about? Come on in and find a biography. A library card is your window to the world, take it, use it, empower your world.

"Perhaps no place in any community is so totally democratic as the town library. The only entrance requirement is interest." Lady Bird Johnson
Curiosity is a wonderful thing. Reading a book can satisfy that curiosity or it can make it grow. How great is that? To have a question and be able to find the answer. If you can't find it yourself, you can ask anyone at a library and they will find your answer for you. One of the main purposes is to share any and all information

Pete Hamill said, "For those without money, the road to the treasure house of the imagination begins at the public library." These are the times we are in, I ask again, in these economic times to even consider cutting library funding, therefore cutting services, accomplishs what? What it does is hurt the community and the people who rely on the library to help them though these tough times and the provide them with some of the pleasures a library gives them.
Don't take your library for granted. Libraries have a petition to send to Albany asking for a reversal of the possible budgets, please stop by and sign it. As Paula Poundstone said so well, libraries shouldn't be shushed, nor should it be made difficult to serve the purposes Benjamin Franklin wanted them to.