View this email in your browser. Heads up- there is no plot reveal here, but there would be a hint on themes, like how you'd find in the blurb of a book- just enough to decide whether you want to give it a shot. 
(2.5 min read)
Tuesday's Episode: Death, Double-dealing, and Daggers

Dear <<First Name>>,

Today's episode is on a thriller: The Dark Crusader by Alistair MacLean. 

The book began with "a small dusty man in a small dusty room", and ended with the narrator of the story as he closed the door "with a quiet hand and left him lying there, a small dusty man in a small dusty room". And, what happened in between these two scenes? It brought us a hero in Johnny Bentall, a scientist who had been recruited by the British Secret Service. Eight job advertisements were used to lure eight scientists with their eight wives gone missing, all choreographed by one criminal mastermind. What was his plan? Could one secret agent stop this crime? That makes the story.

A  thriller is expected to be suspenseful, having twists and turns. I have read many a thrillers, but none so quite as The Dark Crusader. This one has an insane number of plot twists that happen at a break-neck speed, throwing one more, and one more, just as you realize the impact of the previous twist in the story. 

Hyped-up romances and gory violence are not uncommon in thrillers. Though they mostly don't carry the flesh of the story, they do enhance the attitude and setting of the novel, usually used to give more perspective into the protagonist or the antagonist, or describe the environment that the story is set in. But, the best part about MacLean's thrillers is that he is so skillful in his narration,  and pretty solid in his storyline, that he barely needs any of these addendum plots to add to the hype.
MacLean belongs to the classic age of thriller writers. His novels are so meaty in their plot. I am a huge, huge fan. As you read, the feeling that your protagonist is truly human is what makes you root for your hero, as he stumbles through his mission making very humanly mistakes. Another grounding and real effect that Alistair MacLean's thrillers give is the way the final "triumph" is not very glorified. There is loss for the hero, even when he triumphs, which is what would happen in a real life mystery where there is a victim and a crime scene. Acknowledging this loss in spite of the win is what that differentiates MacLean from other thriller writers, making his stories that much more sensitive and believable.

This book was written in 1961, and apparently did not do as well as his other novels. To me, this was an unputdownable read. The book makes you race along with it and its many twists and turns, till the very end. Anything more that I say about this book is going to be a spoiler. So let me finish up by saying if you want to drop everything and gift yourself a racy read, then do pick this one up!

What to look forward to? Let's look at the Ultimate Grandmother Hacks by Kavita Devgan, which is going to come with a lot more personal experiences also as we talk about the book! 
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