Tag Archives: thriller

Book Talk: Ice Station Zebra by Alistair Maclean

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Ice Station Zebra

Alistair Maclean

Khidki (Window)

–Read India Initiative—

This is only an attempt to create interest in reading. We may not get the time to read all the books in our lifetime. But such reviews, talk and synopsis will at least convey what the book is all about.

    Ice Station Zebra is a 1963 thriller novel written by Scottish author Alistair Maclean. It marked his return to Arctic setting. After completing this novel, whose plot line parallels real-life events during the Cold War, Maclean retired from writing for three years. In 1968 it was loosely adapted into a film by the same name.

Plot

    Drift ice Station Zebra, a British metereological station built on an ice floe in the Arctic Sea, suffers a catastrophic oil fire. When, several of its men die, and their shelter and supplies are destroyed. The survivors hole up in one hut with little food and warmth.

    To salvage the situation. The (fictional) American nuclear powered submarine USS Dolphin is dispatched on a rescue mission. But just before it departs, Dr. Carpenter, the narrator, is sent to accompany it. Carpenter’s background is unknown. But he claims that he is an expert in dealing with frostbite and other deep-cold medical conditions. And, he carries his orders from the Chief of Naval Operations of the United States Navy. Commander Swanson, the Dolphin submarine captain, is suspicious of Carpenter. He calls in his superior Admiral Garvie. Garvie refuses to allow Carpenter on board without knowing his mission. So, under duress, Carpenter finally reveals that the ice station is actually a highly equipped listening post, keeping watch for nuclear missile launches from the Soviet Union, a statement that convinces both the commander and the admiral.

    The Dolphin reaches the Arctic ice-pack, and dives under it. It surfaces in a break in the ice and succeeds in making a tenuous radio contact with Ice Station Zebra. Carpenter confides to the Captain that the commander of the station is his brother. Having obtained a bearing on the station, the Dolphin dives again, and succeeds in finding a lead five miles from the station and breaks through a crack in the ice above. Carpenter, Executive Officer Hansen, and two of the crewmen are put above on the ice-pack. They make the journey to the station through an Arctic storm on foot. Taking with them as many supplies as they can. They reach Zebra after a near-impossible trek, only to find that eight of the men on the station are dead, while 11 others are barely alive. While investigating the corpses, Carpenter finds that one of them has even been shot. They find that their radio has been damaged, and so Carpenter and Hansen return to the Dolphin. The US submarine moves close to the station, and finding no open water, blows a hole in the ice using a torpedo.

    The sick men are taken care of by the Dolphin. Carpenter does some more investigation, and finds that the fire was no accident. In fact it was only a cover to hide the three dead men who were murdered, one of whom was his brother. He also discovers several unburned supplies hidden at the bottom of a hut, while Swanson finds a gun hidden in a petrol tank. The surviving members of Zebra are now brought on board the Dolphin, and the station is abandoned. While still under the ice, a fire breaks out in the engine room and the submarine is forced to shut down its nuclear reactor. Finally, the crew succeeds in saving the ship, after several hours of hard labour, where Swanson’s ingenuity plays a big part.

    Carpenter calls a meeting of the survivors, and announces that the fire was no accident. He reveals that he is an MI6 (British Intelligence) officer, and that his real mission was to retrieve photographic film from a reconnaisance satellite that has photographed every missile base in the US. The film had been ejected from the satellite so that Soviet agents operating under cover at Zebra could retrieve it. Carpenter’s brother had been sent to the station to prevent this. Carpenter finally reveals the identity of the Russian agents, and successfully retrieves the film.

Synopsis written by Kamlesh Tripathi

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https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

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Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases especially cancer. Should you wish to donate for the cause. The bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

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Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(The book is about a young cancer patient. Now archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)  

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Is a book on ‘singlehood’ about a Delhi girl now archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture, Delhi)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Is a fiction written around the great city of Nawabs—Lucknow. It describes Lucknow in great detail and also talks about its Hindu-Muslim amity. That happens to be its undying characteristic. The book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival of 2014)

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. It was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN

(Is a story of an Indian salesman who is, humbly qualified. Yet he fights his ways through unceasing uncertainties to reach the top. A good read not only for salesmen. The book was launched on 10th February, 2018 in Gorakhpur Lit-Fest. Now available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha

(ALL THE ABOVE TITLES ARE AVAILABLE FOR SALE IN AMAZON, FLIPKART AND OTHER ONLINE STORES OR YOU COULD EVEN WRITE TO US FOR A COPY)

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By the pricking of my thumbs–Agatha Christie

Copyright@shravancharitymission

KHIDKI (WINDOW)

AGATHA CHRISTIE—By the pricking of my thumbs (Makes an interesting read)

One and only one—Agatha Christie.

Like a sinusoidal wave the excitement of her plot never wanes, and therefore her pen, never gets stale. Her works are now nearing a century. But, one still gets a feel. As if the crime was committed, only yesterday, and that too, in my own neighbourhood. The churning thrill of which, grips you tight. Both while you’re reading and even when you’ve kept the book aside. As the crime scene continues to remain in your psyche.

Sunday Express describes the novel as. ‘The most macabre and eerie Christie I have read for a long time.’

Title is halfway a Macbeth quote—‘By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes.’

It all happens when:

Tommy and Tuppence Beresford are an ordinary British couple. Their conversation with each other in the novel. Reminds you of those, eloquent British natives who are full of etiquette and punctuated verbose. Tommy is the husband and Tuppence is the wife. They happen to call on Tommy’s aunt Ada in a retirement home called the Sunny Ridge. Aunt Ada by nature is difficult. Therefore, a complex person. In the retirement home while Tommy is busy talking to his aunt. Tuppence enters into a conversation with a resident, Mrs Lancaster. When Mrs Lancaster unexpectedly says, ‘Was it your poor child? There behind the fireplace.’

A few weeks later Aunt Ada dies of natural causes in Sunny Ridge. When, Tommy and Tuppence return to the retirement home after the funeral to make arrangements for Ada’s possessions. They find that Mrs Lancaster has suddenly vanished. The matron there informs them that a relative called Mrs Johnson took her away. Tuppence suspects there’s more to it than meets the eye and tries to find the relative. But the trail hits a cul-de-sac. One of the items that Aunt Ada had left is a painting of a house by the riverside. The picture strongly reminds Tuppence of a house she once saw and took to immediate liking. The painting was supposedly given to Aunt Ada by Mrs Lancaster.

Tommy is away for a few days. So, Tuppence starts looking for the mystery house on her own. Eventually, she finds it in a small village by the name Sutton Chancellor. It turns out that the house is divided in a peculiar way. Front and back. The backside is rented to a middle-aged couple called the Perries. The front part has been vacant for several years now. Tuppence meets with the people of Sutton Chancellor. There is an elderly vicar, a talkative big and beautiful landlady called Mrs. Copleigh, and a Miss Bligh who seem to run the parish.

Under the pretence of house hunting she tries to get more information about the house. Mrs Copleigh tells her a grim story about a spate of child killings some years ago. Then she fails to return home on the arranged day, having been concussed by a blow on the head.

Tommy and his man Friday Albert are now worried about Tuppence. Tommy does some investigation on his own. First, he discovers the painting was by an artist called Boscowan. Who died several years ago. Next Tommy meets the doctor of Sunny Ridge. There have been some deaths that the doctor finds odd and he is worried about a possible foul play. Tommy then talks to an investigator friend, Ivor Smith. Who hints the house in Sutton Chancellor might have been used as a safe house for a criminal gang. Tommy shows the painting to Mrs Boscowan, who notes that someone has added a boat to the picture. At home, Tommy learns that Tuppence is in a hospital near Sutton Chancellor with severe concussion. Tommy and Albert then find a hidden letter from Aunt Ada. In which she suspects there is malice in Sunny Ridge.

Tuppence has recovered. An old doll that she found in the mysterious house turns out to contain uncut diamonds. A party is arranged in Sutton Chancellor. Sir Phillip Starke, the local landowner, and Mrs Boscowan are invited. Tuppence has the impression that Sir Phillip knows more about the whole affair. The next day Tuppence goes to the vicarage and confronts Miss Bligh, who she suspects was the one who hit her on the head.

Alone, Tuppence goes to the mystery house. Where, to her surprise she finds the missing Mrs Lancaster. She takes Tuppence to a secret part of the house and proceeds to tell her life story. After her child was aborted against her will she became deranged and started killing children. One of the other residents in Sunny Ridge had recognized her. So she had to be silenced. Miss Bligh, posing as a relative, resettled her into a new home. After her candour, Mrs Lancaster attempts to kill Tuppence.

Tuppence is saved just in time. It is revealed that Mrs Lancaster is actually the wife of Sir Philip Starke. He had covered up her insanity and the crimes she committed. He assisted in the cover-up by Miss Bligh, his former secretary and confidante. Tommy and Tuppence then return home.

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By Kamlesh Tripathi

*

https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

*

Share it if you like it

*

Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases. Should you wish to donate for the cause the bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

*

Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(Archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2014)

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. Book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN

Story of an Indian salesman who is lowly qualified but fights his ways through uncertainities to reach the top. A good read for all salesmen. Now available in Amazon.com

(CAN BE BOUGHT FROM ON LINE BOOK STORES OR WRITE TO US FOR COPIES)

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