Tag Archives: novels

riding a tiger book cover

Half a Dozen Novels About Somali Pirates

1) Crossbones by Nuruddin Farrah

crossbonesA beautifully written novel told by an author in the Somali diaspora often flagged as a potential Nobel Prize for Literature winner, and, according to The New York Times: “the most important African novelist today”, this gripping novel tells the story of Jeebah’s return to Mogadishu after a decade away.

“Mesmerizing… A searing look at individuals caught in the chaos of anarchy.” –The Daily Beast

2) Riding a Tiger by Helen J Beal

Riding a TigerI was one of the stewardesses on the fictional super yacht, Talisman, when she was attacked by Somali pirates while we were on our way back to the mooring in Cyprus from the Seychelles. There was just the crew on board, ten of us, we’d just dropped the owner, Herr Liebe off in Mahe to fly back to Paris for the last leg of his three month honeymoon with his third wife.

In this novel I tell you my story first hand – what happened, how we were treated, how it all ended.

3) Djibouti by Elmore Leonard

djiboutiThis action packed novel features the excellent and feisty documentary film-maker, Dana Barr and some pin-sharp dialogue.

The Independent on Sunday reported that the “pages fly by in a highly entertaining manner’ whilst the Sunday Telegraph said: “As usual, Leonard gives you plenty of bangs for your buck.

Here’s an interview with Elmore about his sixty year career and the writing of this novel.

4) Those in Peril by Wilbur Smith

thoseinperilConsummate action adventure: in this nail-biting tale of adventure, bestselling author Wilbur Smith brings his matchless storytelling to bear on the violent, ruthless world of twenty-first-century piracy.

While cruising on the family yacht in the Indian Ocean, nineteen-year-old Cayla Bannock is attacked and taken hostage by Somalian pirates. Her kidnappers demand a staggering ransom: twenty billion dollars. And Cayla’s not just anyone—she’s the daughter of Hazel Bannock, heiress to the Bannock Oil Corporation, one of the world’s foremost oil producers.

5) Rip Tide by Stella Rimington

riptideInternational conspiracy with twists and turns and a tonne of action. When pirates attack a cargo ship off the Somalian coast and one of them is found to be a British-born Pakistani, alarm bells start ringing at London’s Thames House. MI5 Intelligence Officer Liz Carlyle is brought in to establish how and why a young British Muslim could go missing from his well-to-do family in Birmingham and end up on board a pirate skiff in the Indian Ocean, armed with a Kalashnikov. After an undercover operative connected to the case turns up dead in the shipping office of an NGO in Athens it looks like piracy may be the least of the Service’s problems.

6) Dead Centre by Andy McNab

deadcentreHigh-octane action in the Nick Stone series from the consummate SAS expert. January 2005: Nick Stone is in tsunami hit Banda Aceh on a job to retrieve incriminating evidence of an oil deal. When looters arrive a fight breaks out and a man, Mong, is killed. Nick makes a promise to his dead friend to protect his widow, Tracey.

March 2011: Nick is in Moscow filling his days at a private gun range when he is lifted by heavies and taken to meet an oligarch. The oligarch wants Nick to track down his kidnapped wife and son. It transpires that the oligarch has married Tracey and so Nick is given the opportunity to fulfil his promise to Mong.

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Novels Featuring Poker

Poker – my best friend, my love, my downfall. There are some great novels out there that feature poker – here’s a sample!

1) The Prodigal by Alexander J Allison

the prodigal“Martin is twenty-one, an age not worth lying about. He’s been happily doing nothing, claiming to be a professional online Poker player. But now, he’s facing a life away from the corrupting influence of overwhelming privilege.

In lean, distinct prose, punctuated with unpredictable typography, Alexander J. Allison’s first novel is a humorous, sharp and fresh look at the things that make living better than dying. Or not, whatever.”

2) Rich in Small Things by Helen J Beal

RISTThis is the one about me. Well, mainly about me.

“What do you do when you owe the Ukrainian mafia a huge amount of money that you don’t have? Drive a twenty-year old ambulance ten thousand kilometers from London to the remotest country in the world, of course. Not to run away, you understand, but to bag your share of a million pound cash prize.”

3) The Big Blind by Louise Wener

the big blind“Audrey Unger hasn’t seen her father since she was a child. A professional poker player and compulsive gambler, he left home when she was eleven years old and disappeared from her life for good. Now in her early thirties and poised on the edge of her own mid-life crisis, she makes the decision to try and find him. To discover what it was that made him gamble. To discover what drove him to give her up. Big Louie is the key to her father’s world.An agoraphobic, card playing, Hans Christian Anderson sized giant, who hasn’t left his flat in over three years.”

4) The Cincinnati Kid by Richard Jessup

the cincinatti kidA 1963 classic made into a film in 1965 starring the legend that is Steve McQueen.

“Poker’s not just a game to the fellow they call the Cincinnati Kid. It’s what gives his life meaning. Now the time has come for him to make his play for the big time and take on the best stud player in the business, the one they call “The Man”.

Watch the trailer for the film here.

5) Divisadero by Michael Ondaatje

divisadero“From the celebrated author of The English Patient and Anil’s Ghost comes a remarkable, intimate novel of intersecting lives that ranges across continents and time. In the 1970s in Northern California a father and his teenage daughters, Anna and Claire, work their farm with the help of Coop, an enigmatic young man who makes his home with them. Theirs is a makeshift family, until it is shattered by an incident of violence that sets fire to the rest of their lives. Divisadero takes us from San Francisco to the raucous backrooms of Nevada’s casinos and eventually to the landscape of southern France. As the narrative moves back and forth through time and place, we find each of the characters trying to find some foothold in a present shadowed by the past.”

6) The Rogue’s Game by Milton T Burton

the rogue's gameReleased in 2005, set in 1947:

“An enigmatic man driving a fine Lincoln convertible and accompanied by a beautiful blonde, comes to a small West Texas town. Ostensibly, his purpose is to get into a poker game that had been going at the infamous Weilbach Hotel. But as the story unfolds, it becomes apparent that he has a darker motive, one that centers on a sinister local banker named Clifton Robillard. Aided by an old-time hood named Chicken Little, the protagonist maneuvers Robillard toward a shattering climax in which we discover that nothing is what it seems to be. With its wildcatting spirit, The Rogues’ Game is a high stakes novel and an exquisite quest for revenge.”

7) Tap City by Ron Abell

tapcity“The players came to Reno from all over–Honolulu, Las Vegas, New Orleans, New York–to take part in Stretch Jackson’s Seven-Card Stud Poker Classic. The stakes were high, but the risks were immeasurable. Stretch, six-and-half-feet tall if he ever straightened up, wearing eight-hundred dollar boots and a diamond ring he could have swapped across the board for a Rolls Royce, could have told them that: he knew that the game had nothing to do with cards – it had to do with people. They are all here in Tap City: the deadly old pros and the young up-and-comers.”

8) Stone Junction by Jim Dodge

stonejunction“Starting with his mother’s ’roundhouse’ right to a nun’s jaw, Stone Junction is a modern odyssey of one man’s quest for knowledge and understanding in a world where revenge, betrayal, revolution, mind-bending chemicals, magic and murder are the norm. With jaw-dropping scope, a stiletto-sharp wit and an array of utterly bizarre characters, Jim Dodge has woven a mesmerising and age-defining tale. Like a river constantly changing direction, Stone Junction is both stomach-clutching hilarious and heart-rendingly sad – but always utterly compelling. Prepare to step into a world where nothing is ever as it seems.”

9) The Prop by Pete Hautman

the prop“Peeky Kane is a prop player at an Arizona casino owned by the Santa Cruz tribe. Her job is to play poker. She makes a handsome living off the suckers who populate the card room. Life is sweet.

But something’s not right at Casino Santa Cruz. When Peeky inadvertently finds herself in a fixed game and comes away a couple thousand dollars richer, she finds herself drawn unwittingly toward the dark side of professional poker. Peeky has always thought of herself as a straight shooter, but now things aren’t so clear. And they’re about to get a lot murkier.”

What are your favourite novels featuring poker? Please add them in the comments section if they are not listed here!

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