Book Review: The Year Of The Golden Ape -- Colin Forbes


The Year Of The Golden Ape
Colin Forbes

It was a toss-up between a movie and 2 books: and frankly, 2 books seemed far more attractive to me. The expense would have been the same; but while the movie would have stretched for only 3 hours, a book can give you pleasure everytime you read it; you dont have to pay again for a re-run! So it was that I picked up "The Terrorist - Juggi Bhasin" from my to-read list. Looking for a second, I could not find any book to pick up; then I saw this one. Intuition kicked in and told me to go for it. And a good decision it was, too - especially after reading RIP, my previous book!


The Characters

Winter: Perfect name for this character. And I mean character. Describes him perfectly... or does it? Sometimes Winters do surprise, you know
LeCat: Again, stereotypical name. Perfect fit - cat. Ugly cat, in fact. No surprises here...
Sullivan: Determined, Dogged, Smart, Persistent...
Mackay: Tough. Even under duress.
Betty Cordell: Surprise package


The Plot 
Straightforward. No surprises, simple potboiler formula stuff. Kijack a ship, hold its crew hostage, plonk a Nuke in its hold and blow up The Golden Gate bridge. Same old formula, told in the backdrop of an international oil crisis as the Oil Producing nations hold the west to ransom. But... there is a critical difference. There is no hero in this one, no shining knight who comes galloping to the rescue. What unfolds is a stunningly bold worldwide conspiracy; and there is no help coming from anywhere. So how does it all get sorted out? Read the book!

The Analysis
The book is a genuine surprise package; It is amazing that I have not seen it in many more book stores, given that the author is well known and a best-seller, and that the book has been written in 1975. I would rate it as being among the best fiction books of the thriller genre I have read. Dont miss this one, folks: it is well worth the money you will fork out on it. It is action packed, fast-paced and is one book that you wont be able to put down once you start it. It will keep you glued to its pages till the last page!

The characterisation is excellent, and is done in a minimalist fashion. Just enough has been revealed about the characters, who are developed quite early in the book. The rest of the book stays true to the characterisation built up earlier. This is important, as there is no hero in this book. It becomes quite apparent midway in the book that a baddie will revolt as some point. The plot, however, gives no indication of how this will come about, and the reader is left wondering. The suspense is not what will happen or indeed who will do it, but when will it happen, and how. And this is what makes this book unique, in a class of its own. The author has pulled of an amazing stunt by building Sullivan in the first half. You expect him to break in at any time. This interest has been kept alive throughout, as Sullivan keeps popping up persistently, always making the right intuitive decisions. And yet, the baddies keep winning. And then, midway, comes the bang: in the form of a subtle hint. You are left wondering at this build-up, and it is this suspense that drives you: Sullivan or a baddie - or will it be both in tandem? And what is Betty Cordell's role? 

The writing is simple, free from expletives (which I personally hold as paramount in a good book), and easy to grasp. The pace is relentless, and the plot virtually flawless. This is a book for your collection: you will want to read it again and again. A book without a hero, and that is what makes it unique, a collectors item. A book to cherish. I realise I am going ballistic in praise, but it is \warranted as per me. I dont usually go this ballistic; but this is a truly one-of-a-kind book

Perhaps the best part about the book is that the anti-hero does not attempt to escape from justice; indeed he tries to atone for his mistake in bringing about this catastrophy. It comes across as a pleasant surprise when that transpires. It is the story of an imperfect man with a skewed moral compass; but a man with some modicum of decency left with him, some surviving hope of integrity. There are no explanations or value judgements; just a fast paced and awesome plot...

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