Friday, July 08, 2005

Cultural Item #2

I've become quite a fan of AJ Quinnell's thriller novels. Many thanks to co-worker Val Swift who turned me on to Quinnell's best-known title, "Man on Fire." That one has been made into a Hollywood film twice, most recently in one starring Denzel Washington as the burned-out mercenary John Creasy.

I enjoyed "Man on Fire" so much, that I began to seek out Quinnell's other books at nearby bookstores. No luck. Then I turned to Amazon. No luck. Only "Man on Fire".

After about two months of fruitless searches in bookstores, I finally found two Quinnell titles: "In The Name of The Father," and "Siege of Silence". I was delighted to find them on the shelf! Problem is, I only get to that bookstore once a year. It's in Gibraltar!

The books were so good that I read them both before my plane touched down in Indianapolis.

"In The Name of The Father" was actually fairly timely, as it depicts a fictional struggle between the Vatican and the Kremlin to assassinate the other's leaders- Pope John Paul 2, and Yuri Andropov. Of course, Andropov died in 1981, but he utters a great line in Quinnell's book- "I'll be damned if that bastard Priest outlives me!" And, as it was, the Pope was dying at the time of my trip.

"Siege of Silence" is unique in that it is written in the first person, with chapters alternate back and forth between the two main characters. One is an American spy, the other a Cuban interrogator. There is far less action in this book than in the other two, but wonderful intellectual and emotional tension between the two characters engaged in a mental chess match.

If you venture into any American bookstore, you will find "Man on Fire" on the shelves with other thrillers. The still from the movie is now the cover, with Denzel Washington shielding a little girl. What you will not find on the shelf are any other books penned by Quinnell, not even the two I found in Gibraltar. You would think that even if the other books were awful, a reprinting would be warranted on the heels of one of them being made into a film, with Denzel Washington as the star. Book publishers are in the business of selling books, after all, and the film had to highten interest in Quinell.

I decided that I'd have to go to dreaded Ebay to find other Quinnell books. Don't get me wrong- I always love to sell things on Ebay, and sometimes I like to buy things there, but it's hit and miss, and if what I want is in demand, it's often expensive for what it is.

Well, the Denzel Washington film did highten interest in Quinnell, who has written some 10 other books, including a handful that feature the Creasy character. Those books, "The Blue Ring" and "Message From Hell" show up on Ebay from time to time, but are always bid ridiculously high.

Three copies of "Message From Hell" recently sold. The lowest winning auction bid for any one used, ragged copy sold on Ebay was $42! For a used paperback! One copy is available now for $83- no picture, only a discription claiming, 'good'.

Ame gave me two Quinell books for my birthday- "The Mahdi" and "Snap Shot". She bought them on Ebay and won't tell me the price she paid. One came from Australia. This all scares me, so I try not to think about it when reading the books.

Hello, publisher! If there are 10 people out there willing to pay better than $30 for a paperback by one of your authors, there are 1,000 people willing to pay $7 for the same book. Fire up the presses! Quinnell bibliography.

If you enjoy Tom Clancy's books, but occasionally wanted a lighter, less thoroughly detailed thriller read, check out "Man on Fire" or any other Quinnell book you are lucky enough to find.

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