Snapshots - #37: It, Breathe, Mark Felt – The Man Who Brought Down the White House

It (2017), (♦♦♦♦): Four inseparable friends in middle school bond with other three newcomers. They all have in common that they are bullied by the same people. Over the course of one summer they'll fend off bullies and face a centuries-old demon in the form of a clown, named Pennywise, whom has been disappearing kids and terrorizing the town of Derry, Maine, every twenty-seven years since the town was founded.
Based on Stephen King's novel of the same title, It is a movie with a smart script and a sympathetic ensemble of nerds that deliver light humor, and deep thrills. It doesn't hurt that each and every character has his or her own arc, thus one gets to know their motivations and fears before Pennywise enters head on into the picture.
In a nod to 1980s movie classics such as The Goonies, and the Brat Pack ensemble, the newest adaptation of It takes place at the end of that decade, when it seems, at least from the Hollywood perspective, that every kid harbored a genius insi…

The Man from St. Petersburg by Ken Follett (♦♦♦)

It’s the summer of 1914. Revolutionist ideas are burgeoning in Europe. In England, women have demonstrations to gain the right to vote. Russian people are at odds with the Czar. Germany is gaining momentum as a preeminent European power, and there are talks among the British elite that an attack on France by Germany is imminent.

In Switzerland, a group of anarchists meets in secret. Their job is to print a newspaper with the latest revolutionist ideas; later they smuggle that publication into Russia where it’s devoured by hungry intellectuals. Among those anarchists in Switzerland is a man named Feliks Kschessinsky, a Russian from St. Petersburg, who volunteers to kill a Russian prince in talks to form a Russian alliance with the British if Germany invades France.

Feliks travels to Britain and gets an opportunity to kill the Russian prince almost from the beginning, but his attempt is frustrated. Instead of giving up, his resolve is strengthened and he tries again…and again…Hot in Feliks tracks is the Special Branch of British police and an aristocrat with a personal interest in catching Feliks dead or alive.

Meanwhile, in Sarajevo, a student has managed to kill the Crown Prince of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire…

When I finished The Man from St. Petersburg I was glad, because it was over. Last year I reviewed Eye of The Needle and thought it was a pure shot of adrenaline. The Man from St. Petersburg is interesting, enlightening even particularly regarding the causes of WWI, but it lacks thrill factor. If Eye of The Needle and The Pillars of the Earth were brilliant--both among the best books I’ve ever read--, The Man from St. Petersburg is formulaic and somewhat predictable.

The Man from St. Petersburg is heavy on human drama and not so much on the politics that supposedly drives the story. The characters though, aren’t sympathetic enough to make the book stand out.

I haven’t read Fall of Giants but I know is based on WWI, so The Man from St. Petersburg may be considered a prequel, or at least a good introduction to the former.