Alex – Pierre LeMaitre – Book Review


untitledGoodreads blurb: In kidnapping cases, the first few hours are crucial. After that, the chances of being found alive go from slim to nearly none. Alex Prévost – beautiful, resourceful, tough – may be no ordinary victim, but her time is running out.

Commandant Camille Verhoeven and his detectives have nothing to go on: no suspect, no lead, rapidly diminishing hope. All they know is that a girl was snatched off the streets of Paris and bundled into a white van.

The enigma that is the fate of Alex will keep Verhoeven guessing until the bitter, bitter end. And before long, saving her life will be the least of his worries.

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As is the case with his first novel Irene, this one Alex by Pierre Lemaitre also starts off with a kidnapping. The author takes his time in building up the circumstances that lead to the kidnapping, how Commandant Verhoeven is reluctantly pulled into the investigation, how he teams up with his earlier colleagues, the ever dependable Armand and his erstwhile long term partner Louis. What makes this portion more interesting is that Camille Verhoeven is still struggling to come to terms with what happens right at the end of the earlier book. Am not giving it away here as it would constitute a spoiler. In case you want to know more about Irene, read my review at this link [Link to review].

In any case, what starts off as a kidnapping with an unidentified victim soon spirals into something else altogether. Somewhere around midway through the book, the narrative takes quite a bizarre and interesting turn and the proceedings soon pick up breakneck speed giving Camille and his team more than a few sleepless nights. The kidnapping investigation soon becomes a chase where the cops are trying to figure out who the next victim of a serial killer is and try to anticipate the crimes to prevent them. Whether they succeed or not forms the crux of the second part of the book.

The final third of the book provides closure, not only to the case on hand but also to Camille who achieves closures on multiple aspects from his personal and professional life. He finally learns to let go of his emotional luggage and is ready to move on. These portions of the book where the author fleshes out his main protagonist make for some really interesting reading and enable readers to bond with Camille closer than would otherwise have been possible. Although the crime investigation and the police procedural parts of the book are top notch, to me, it is this emotional connect that I made with Camille Verhoeven that will make this book special to me.

Click here to purchase the book from Flipkart [Link] or Amazon [Link].

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A review copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers in return for a honest and unbiased review of the same.

Breach – Amrita Chowdhury – Book Review


BreachGoodreads blurb: How secure are your secrets?

Weeks before Acel is ready to file the global patent application for Colare, a wonder drug for pancreatic cancer, the research data stored at its offshore data center in Mumbai goes haywire and Dr. Udai Vir Dhingra, the charismatic, Ivy-educated young leader of its Indian business, gets blamed.

The trail leads to Raghu Damodaran, a precocious teen exploring the very edges of what can be done in cyber space, and then gets lost.

Battling market pressures, media leaks, livid American bosses and crumbling relationships, Vir must find the real perpetrators or see his career – and his life – spiral downwards. Swept into a shadowy world of masked online identities and muddied digital footprints, Vir discovers that nothing is easy or obvious, and everything has a price.

Set in Mumbai, Washington DC and Suzhou, in an online-meets-offline adventure of cyber threats and IP espionage, drug research and medical ethics, strained affairs and lost love, disillusionment and hopelessness, Breach is a clever, fast-paced thriller full of surprises.

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As the blurb states, the narrative of this book deals with a data breach at Acel’s data centers barely five weeks before the company is set to file a patent application for what could potentially be a multi-billion dollar revenue earning drug for the company. Caught bang in the middle of all the finger-pointing and accusations that start is Udai Vir Dhingra, the chief of Acel’s India Operations who put his neck out to have a portion of the wonder drug Colare’s data and research to be outsourced to India in the first place.

In a race against time Vir has to try and find out who hacked into Acel’s servers, why they did so and what did they intend to do with the data, all while ensuring that news of this hacking incident doesn’t get outside the company itself and cause negative publicity, just five weeks before the patent application filing. What complicates matters even further is the apparent lack of trust that the US leadership team of Acel has in Vir and his ability to solve the problem at hand.

What makes this book interesting is the fact that Amrita Chowdhury, the author, uses a technique oft used by Ravi Subramanian and Ashwin Sanghi in their books; that of multiple characters taking the action forward simultaneously with small, crisp 2-3 page chapters. This book uses locations as far apart as Mumbai, Maryland USA and Guangzhou, China to keep the action moving ahead and uses a plethora of characters from Vir, researchers in the US, hackers in India and the US and business leaders in China to keep the plot ticking and the pages turning. While I personally am Ok with this style of narrative, I have heard other readers complaining of too many things happening simultaneously for them to keep track of in the story.

One small portion that didn’t quite work for me in the book was the entire romantic angle of Vir. While I kept waiting till the very end to see if it would have any material or significant bearing on the plot itself, it disappointed me by seeming to be forced upon Vir’s character just to add on to the troubles and tensions that he was facing due to the cyber security breach at Acel. The book could very easily have done without that distraction from time to time. The entire ‘love track’ and some shoddy editing such as typos and getting character names mixed up in a couple of places in the book spoilt what would otherwise have been a lovely book reading experience.

I would still urge you to please click on either of these links and buy the book if you are a fan of well written crime thrillers set in the corporate milieu. Click here to buy the book from Flipkart [Link] or from Amazon [Link].

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Disclaimer: The publishers provided me with a review copy of this book in return for a honest and unbiased review.