The Blog's Mission

Wikipedia defines a book review as: “a form of literary criticism in which a book is analyzed based on content, style, and merit. A book review can be a primary source opinion piece, summary review or scholarly review”. My mission is to provide the reader with my thoughts on the author’s work whether it’s good, bad, or ugly. I read all genres of books, so some of the reviews may be on hard to find books, or currently out of print. All of my reviews will also be available on I will write a comment section at the end of each review to provide the reader with some little known facts about the author, or the subject of the book. Every now and then, I’ve had an author email me concerning the reading and reviewing of their work. If an author wants to contact me, you can email me at I would be glad to read, review and comment on any nascent, or experienced writer’s books. If warranted, I like to add a little comedy to accent my reviews, so enjoy!
Thanks, Rick O.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

MOTHER NILE, a novel

The author and his editorial manager sent me a copy of his novel to review:

Warren Adler, the author of The War of the Roses (later a hit movie starring Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner), is the best descriptive writer that I’ve read in a long time. I could feel the heat of Cairo. I could smell the stench of Cairo’s slums. I could visualize the populated cemetery known as The City of the Dead. “He moved through disparate groups of people. Goats, sheep, and dogs crouched near the walls, husbanding thin slivers of shade. Occasionally, he would glance inside a mausoleum where humans and animals crouched in the darkness. Once, a woman appeared with a battered pot of murky liquid, throwing its contents on the dusty road.” How about the author’s description of one of the novel’s shady characters: “Salah was a tall, fierce-looking man with a face of crinkled tar paper from which crafty eyes darted covetously under the ragged rim of his red-checked kaffiyeh.” What was it like on a train? “In the air swirled odors of sweat, feces, urine, ripe fruit, and, unmistakably, hashish. Cooped chickens cackled and fluttered their wings.” Can this man write or what? What about the traffic in Cairo? “What greeted him was an unprecedented assault on his senses. Engulfed in a soup-like smog overheated by the mid-July sun was a hodgepodge of vehicular traffic moving like a river of molasses...scrawny donkeys pulling flatbed carts competed for space with ramshackle buses choked with people, trucks belching dark exhaust...young dark boys in filthy pajamas pushing huge nondescript burdens, cigarettes dangling from their lips.” At any moment, I was expecting Sydney Greenstreet (from the 1942 movie, Casablanca) to appear wearing a fez.

Okay, so you gather that I loved the author’s descriptive prose. What about the story? The story was two-fold, one part telling the story of Farrah Kelly when she lived in Egypt as a belly dancer, and the other part tells the story of Si Kelly (Farrah’s American son) as tries to find his half sister in Egypt. The reader will meet two main villains (there are others); one is King Farouk Of Egypt and the other is Zakki, the King’s pimp, chauffeur, lackey, and somewhat partner in the King’s illegal activities. Since this novel is historical fiction, some of the characters are real but most are not. The story is of Osiris (Si) Sean Kelly, a American born son of an Irish dad and an Egyptian mother. Farrah Kelly (43) is dying of cancer. Si is summoned from Cornell to sit with his mom. Before she dies, Farrah tells Si that he has a half sister in Egypt.”You have a sister, Osiris.” “A sister?” Then it came to him. “Isis?” She nodded…”I left her in Cairo, the City of the Dead. In the tomb of the family Al-Hakim. Come to my sanctuary.” “I don’t understand,” he cried…”There was no other choice. He would have killed my Isis, my baby. So I left her with the woman in the tomb of Al-Hakim family in the City of the Dead. ‘Come to my sanctuary’. Above the entrance. It is written.” As Farrah dies, she yells, “Zakki.” Si’s dad gives him the gold coin on a chain that his mother wore all her life. Si sells the coin for three thousand dollars and buys a round trip ticket to Egypt. Si doesn’t know it yet, but his half sister, Isis, is a princess since her father is King Farouk, now in exile in Rome, Italy. She is being stalked by the vengeful Zakki. The story is now off and running as Si heads to Egypt to learn his mother’s past and find his half sister.

The story now switches to Teenage Farrah’s life in Egypt before she comes to America. And the good news is that we are only on page forty seven of a three hundred and seventy two page novel. This was one of those novels that you wished was a thousand pages long. We find Farrah belly dancing in a Cairo nightclub. In the audience is a very fat King Farouk, alone at his table, eating tray after tray of pastries. After her dance, the King orders his lackey, Zakki, to bring her back to his table. Zakki goes to her dressing room and tries to have sex with Farrah unsuccessfully. It’s obvious to Farrah that Zakki hates the King. She goes to the King’s table and is taken on a whirlwind date from a yacht on the Nile to a casino and finally into the King’s bedroom. This goes on for a long period of time. Zakki, still trying to get into Farrah’s pants, tells her, “He (the King) is content instead with his own greed, his collections, his pleasures, pastries and pussy.” He is not afraid of the plots against him from the army. Farrah becomes pregnant. What happens after that is up to you to read. After this section is over, Si arrives in Cairo to start the search for Isis. What does Si think of Cairo? While laying “in a pool of sweat on a bumpy bed” in his hotel room, “From the streets rose the perpetual din. Auto horns tooted like irrepressible bratty children vying for attention. Noxious fumes seeped into the room, adding a choking pall to the overheated air. Too many people, he thought, glimpsing an image of a slithering mass of humanity locked in a snake pit. Why had his mother left Isis in this cesspool? Twenty-seven years was a nodule on a pimple of the ass of time in this weird shithouse of a country.” Historical note: Cairo was built for one million people, but housed eight million.

The writing by Warren Adler was so good that I let his quoted lines tell most of my review. Did I stumble upon a new way to review a book? Let the author review the book in his own words. Another thing that doesn’t happen very often with me... is no criticism of the author or novel! What occurs after Farrah becomes pregnant in Egypt and what transpires during Si’s quest for his sister is exhilarating and gripping to the nth degree. Did I like this novel? Does the pope wear a funny hat? Kudos to everyone responsible for this novel.

RATING: 5 out of 5 stars

Comment: I was honored to have a review request from an author of his ilk. In his ‘about the author’ page, “Adler has also optioned and sold film rights for a number of his works, including Random Hearts (starring Harrison Ford and Kristin Scott Thomas) and The Sunset Gang (produced by Linda Lavin for PBS’s American Playhouse series starring Jerry Stiller, Uta Hagen, Harold Gould and Doris Roberts).

I was contacted by the author and his editor after they read my review of Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile (see my review of 4/7/2012). They said, “We had the opportunity to read more about you and learned that you enjoy reading historical fiction. The reviews on your blog are so detailed and articulate! :)” Wow, what can I say?      

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