The Road to Gandolfo

gandolfo1 Say you’re a decorated war hero whose time has come – you’ve become a liability and embarrassment to the red, white and blue.  And say you’re looking for a way to… oh, pay them back.  So, maybe you’d hook up this this lawyer dude you know who is also in the Army and is almost at his tour of duty.  And you might include your 4 former ex-wives.

Then maybe you’d decide to kidnap the Pope for the ransom of $1 per Catholic in the world.

Well, then maybe you’d be General MacKenzie Hawkins, lawyer Sam Devereaux, Hawkins Harem and Pope Francesco 1.  And you’d be in for a hell of a ride.


So, I think I’ve seen half of The Bourne Identity.  I don’t know if I liked it, really, and I tried to read those books a long time ago and wasn’t thrilled with them.   So when the online book club that I pretend to be part of if I like the sound of the book chose this Ludlum book I wasn’t overly excited but thought I’d check it out.

This book is HILARIOUS.  It’s not what I think of as typical Ludlum.  It’s sort of a smart 3 Stooges debacle led by a mastermind of hysterical proportions.  It’s clever.  So clever.  Ludlum has really created these larger than life characters and put them in a pretty preposterous position.  I mean, who decides that they want to kidnap the Pope?!  And not only wants to kidnap the Pope but actually goes through all the planning and fund raising to do it?

Mac and Sam are a strange pairing – sort of a Gibson and Glover Lethal Weapon type of partnership.  I’d love to see a movie made from this book but I can’t see much of a way this would happen.  Which is too bad, because this is a really funny story and I’m planning on picking up the sequel “The Road to Omaha”.

I know this is a quickie review, but you really just need to read it to get the feel.  It would be a great beach read and since summer is coming up it might be worth grabbing if you have a trip planned.  It’s short, so plan accordingly there.  🙂

This one is hard to classify, but I’m going to label this one as “spy” although maybe it’s not exactly.

The Road to Gandolfo by Robert Ludlum, 291 pages

Published in: on May 1, 2009 at 8:27 am  Leave a Comment  
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The Company

company What do the Berlin Base of the ’50s, the Soviet invasion of Hungary, the Bay of Pigs, Afghanistan, and the Gorbachev putsch all have in common?  The involvement of the CIA.  And what involvement it is!  From masterminding complex plots to looking for the traitors in their midst, the Company doesn’t only look out for the best interests of the US internally but also judges global events to make sure that the upheaval in the rest of the world doesn’t endanger our way of life.  The Company follows the innermost workings of the, arguably, most powerful agency in the world and brings us into a grand tale of intrigue, betrayal, love and hope.


I wish I’d seen this miniseries when it was on TV!  I bought this book a couple of years ago when I saw it as a movie tie in and didn’t quite know what to think.  It’s sat on the bookshelf for all that time and I don’t know why I didn’t pick it up earlier!  This isn’t a light read, it’s part military/American history and part fiction, but 100% compelling.  The characters are really well written and over the course of the book you follow them as they literally grow up from college recruits to grandparents.  It’s a great journey and by the end I felt for these guys every twist and turn and close call they went through.

The disclaimer to all of this is that I really am not into American history (sorry to my high school teachers – it’s not your fault) so I saw this book from a strictly story telling sense.  I can’t claim to know how much is true and how much is fiction (other than I know the EVENTS are true) so if you’re a history or government buff you might get more (or maybe less?) out of this book than I did.  I’d be interesting to know how much of this is really real and how much is made up but, like how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop, the world may never know.

If you like spy and espionage books, then try this one.  Oh, and it’s got a hell of a twist that I half guessed and then thought I was wrong and then it kinda turned out I was right although I was really doubting that I’d figured it out and WHEW let’s just say it was a good one.

The Company: A Novel of the CIA, bye Robert Littell, 894 pages

Published in: on March 4, 2009 at 2:19 pm  Comments (2)  
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The Gun Seller

gun_seller1 Thomas Lang isn’t what you’d call a bad guy… but then he’s not exactly a good guy either.   After all, if he was a bad guy, he would never have tried to warn the American industrialist that someone was trying to hire Lang to kill him.  On the other hand, if he was a good guy, nobody would have tried to hire him in the first place.

What follows is a game of international intrigue involving terrorists, helicopters, unique marketing campaigns and a lot of people called Carl.  This is a great send up the classic spy novel, with some genuine humor, romance and cleverness thrown in for good measure.


Let’s start out by saying that yes, this is *that* Hugh Laurie – the asshole doctor in House, the ponce from Blackadder, half of the Fry and Laurie comedy duo.  You know, that British guy (which you may NOT know if you only know him as a-hole doctor).  Well, apparently he’s also literate.

In an interview about the book, he says that he wrote it after keeping a diary and realizing that the normal day to day of our lives isn’t really that interesting.  There is a distinct lack of car chases, dinners with famous people or fights with pirates.  Okay, he actually didn’t say car crashes or pirates, but he did mention dinners in his list of “pretty incredible things taht don’t happen to me”.  He said he was looking to make up a life and fantasize an adventure.  He’s done that pretty wonderfully.

There are a lot of twists and turns and I spent a lot of time trying to figure out who knew what.  Which I guess is good in a novel like this.  Nobody wants to read a spy novel where you know what’s happening.  A note about this novels place within the genre – this is not James Bond.  It’s not really Bourne or even Clouseau.  Tom Lang is a new entity: a stupidly intelligent ex military guy who manages to get by and it pretty kick ass with a Buddha statue.

The best thing about the book is the writing itself.  Laurie has instilled his protaganist with a great and wry sense of humor and, since this is written in the first person, you get a great taste of it in every page.   This isn’t a completely serious book and it’s not meant to be.  It doesn’t really take itself too seriously, either – which is refreshing.  It’s better than your typical vacation/beach read, but it’s not going to make you think too terribly hard.  There’s no real large message here, it’s just fun.

Apparently there was some discussion about a movie and Laurie says he was working on a script.  Unfortunately, we all know how well a not completely serious British movie about terrorism would go, so it looks like it’s on the bottom of the pile for now.  Too bad, I’d go see this one with the right casting.

The Gunseller by Hugh Laurie, 339 pages

Published in: on January 15, 2009 at 10:28 am  Leave a Comment  
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