the alfmeister

a figment of reality's imagination

One Page at a Time…Wild Fire by Nelson DeMille


549169Short and sweet; a good, good book. The second offering from a friend of mine this book follows a NYPD Detective, John Corey, and his FBI-wife Kate, both of who are consigned to the anti-terrorist squad following 9/11. When they return from a semi-romantic weekend away John notices his colleague has not returned from a surveillance task in the US wilderness of am oil mogul and his guests, and being NYPD, and possibly stereotyped, John takes things into his own hands as he heads into the region to locate his whereabouts.

Facing stiff resistance from everyone, including his wife, the FBI, State Troopers and even the CIA John goes rogue and meets the ultimate foe, Bain Madox; an ex-Vietnam vet with a shitload of cash, loyal troops in his employ, and some very powerful friends within the upper echelons of US politics and the Pentagon. COuld he possibly have something to do with Harry’s death when his body is found not far from the perimeter fence of Madox’s “lodge’?

This book is about as well written as I have read, pages turning quicker than the brain could decipher the words as DeMille took me on a roller coaster ride through the dark world of terrorism, politics, and secret policies. So the very real prospect of the Middle East meeting Nuclear Armageddon via ‘Wild Fire’ (which apparently is true!!) did not come across as a far-fetched scenario sprouting forth from a simple missing persons case.

Normally I would divulge further on the plot, and try to avoid any attempt at spoiling the outcome, but quite literally to the last few pages I still wondered what the outcome would be, and at the risk of sounding morbid, the world being saved, or destroyed would both have been a satisfying ending…but you find out.

DeMille, a writer I am not aware of, has pumped out a beaut here, and has plenty others to his credit it would seem, so a visit to the library is very much on the cards from this hard-to-please reader. But, I would not be a critic if I didn’t say something bad, but I can;t tell if it annoyed me, or was enjoyable, but John Corey (earlier refered to as ‘stereotyped’) made too many wisecracks. Funny, very much so, but even I tend to hold back on them at appropriate times – this guy would try to raise a laugh while a shotgun was pointed at his wife’s head.

Yeah, nah…

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Eat Shit and Die; KFC’s Mexican ‘offering’…


When I was younger, my older brother once farted on my head just at that point where I breathed in...this burger tasted worse...

When I was younger, my older brother once farted on my head just at that point where I breathed in…this burger tasted worse…

And by offering, I mean some sort of Pagan-esque sacrificial lamb, and by lamb I mean chicken (at least I think it was chicken), and by chicken, I mean something crumbed somewhat attempting to resemble a chicken (albeit minus wings, legs, beak and ‘cluck’) yet had the taste and complexion of a sun-dried inner tube left to marinate in a sespool of rancid cow’s piss…

What? No idea, but it was advertised as the Mexican Zinger Burger…

Where? KFC Rangiora…

When? When I come out of this gastro-influenced coma I will endeavour to remember. But it was sometime after work last week, and sometime before violently scratching the back of my throat with my fingers in an effort to extricate whatever had crawled in there and died…

Coin? All things considered (it being a combo), too much. In fact, I would expect to be paid to eat it next time…

Pros? The Mountain Dew, and I bloody well hate Mountain Dew…oh, and the hot blonde behind the counter (who unfortunately didn’t serve me)…

Cons? Everything including the shit-arsed fries (which used to be a KFC speciality), the cold burger, the soggy corn chips layered to give an air of Tijuana but felt more like a mouthful of wet bark, and the cost, which per square inch is more than Auckland property.

 

And herein ends the lesson….

Book Review; The Templar Salvation by Raymond Khoury


9781409114031-29c651nBooks that touch on religious artifacts and harp back to the days of yore don’t normally grab me, and throw in an FBI agent and I immediately think “utter shite”, but for some reason I borrowed this book from a friend being short of a book to read. The blurb on the back cover did pique an interest, and despite taking a good three weeks to read (I got immersed in Real Racing 3 on iPad) each chapter increasingly got better and better…to start with.

It started going pear-shaped with the introduction of an Iranian agent who makes the collective Vader, Joker, and Hannibal Lector look like amateurs when it comes to a) having an evil mind b) being able to kill sadistically and c) get out of any situation. Who can stop this man? Enter one FBI agent by the nondescript name of Sean Reilly, and an ex- who has an insatiable appetite for sex and digging for bones, Tess.

So it begins with some Knights of some order or another who are protecting three trunks full of ‘the Devil’s work’ and all these guys sent by the Pope to kill them and get it back. Go forward 700 years and we have a similar parallel story line as both this baddy and some goodies are trying to locate it from ancient scribblings. And that’s pretty much where I’ll leave the story so as not to give away the outcome.

The book is actually well written, and flicking back and forth between the ages is helpful to get a gauge on what is going on and where we are in the pursuit,  the characters are easily recognizable, and the sporadic insertions of historical fact, which can be rattled off the memory better than if read from the book, is long-winded at times, but again helpful.

However, the suspense was ruined many times by the unbelievable, even God-like powers of survival by its characters. While bit parts, normally Turks of the lower socio-economic and not entirely smart get killed with reckless abandon, the three main principals have more lives collectively than a cattery as time after annoyingly regularly time, they slip away with minor cuts and bruises. Shit, even Conrad, of the Order of Templar, or whatever they were called, had supernatural survival skills.

No, the constant need to keep the story alive with chase and counter-chase, capture and evasion, suspense and stupidity ruined what could have been a truly enjoyable read. As it was, it was passable, but hardly a winner nor a recommendation. Ideally for those who find the storyline of the inhabitants of Summer Bay in “Lost and Away” somewhat inspiring.

Carb-loading with a side order of heart-attack…


Those that know me will attest to this statement; I would take the burger before Heidi. I know, I need help...

Those that know me will attest to this statement; I would take the burger before Heidi. I know, I need help…

Regular followers with nothing better in their lives to do will remember posts of past referring to the new up-start in the fast-food race here in New Zealand – Carl’s Jnr – when their ads were deemed irresponsible and degrading. Well, as one who finds it hard to let go of something, I will refer to that a little later on in this piece…

…so it was with saliva-dripping anticipation that I finally found myself with some time up my sleeve to sample their wares before flying back home, and I did so in the true heart of Auckland’s obesity population, Walking into the restaurant two things stood out; the cleanliness of the place, and how quiet it was. Sure, it was 2 in the afternoon, rather late for lunch, however if McDonald’s and KFC have shown me anything, fast food is a 24hr a day fix so Carl’s must be disappointed that their target demographic of he morbidly obese is falling short of the mark.

The young lady who greeted me and ultimately took my order was a pretty wee thing, however she never, ever, at any point, not in a million years, way off the mark, in fact the mark was but a blip on the distant horizon, look anything remotely close to the girls featured in the advert. She did however look considerably better looking, and in better condition than the majority of those, me included, eating there at that point. But then, that wouldn’t have been hard even for Roseanne Barr.

It seemed only fair that I wrap my laughing gear around the feature burger of the day, the Jim Beam ® Bourbon Burger, a montage of healthy greens and dairy produce slam dunked between patties, bacon, buns and a thick black sauce. Yep, looked like just the tonic to fix what ailed me. In a slip from my usual attention to detail, I fail to remember what the actual burger was called; there was a ‘single’ (yeah, right) and two other upsizes to the burger itself. It goes without saying that I risked life and limb to report to you effectively that I ordered the big bastard, of course, and also took a punt and went with the combo, a knowing nod from the girl telling me that there was no need to ask what size combo. I barely waited a nano-second before she pointed out that I was not required to stand there like a rabbit in the headlights as a number was thrust into my paw and was asked to sit down to wait for my meal to be brought to me…well buggar me! Not that I mind standing there checking out the hotties and judging the fatties, it was a somewhat surreal feeling being served hand and foot by someone who probably earns less than the cost of the burger each day…still, a nice touch Carl, don’t lose it. While on the staff, the other noticeable difference to everywhere was that the average weight of the staff looked to be well under my own weight. Whether this is company policy, or a lack of foresight on management (“never trust a skinny chef”) is not for me to speculate, but knowing that some lard-arsed, sweaty kid (think that Indian guy on the last Masterchef) is prepping my meal is not my ideal lead in to a feed.

The food was served to me by the same, smiling girl who took my order, her face not indicating what they had ‘done’ to my burger backstage, and as the picture shows the meal did look substantial. Shit, even the drink alone was a meal in itself, the only other instance (short of going to The States) I have had a non-alcoholic drink that size was the infamous ‘alfmeiseter vs. Wendy’s Quad’.

When compared to previously devoured burgers, this is The Mona Lisa....

When compared to previously devoured burgers, this is The Mona Lisa….

To the keen observer the fries look interesting and immediately got my attention. Just like my dad used to make (“all the goodness is in the skin, son”) I couldn’t help but be drawn to them and I cannot remember a time where I had eaten anything before properly ‘laying everything out’ to savour before eating. More in a sec…

Opening the box, which was big enough to bury a dwarf in, the burger, while not touching the sides definitely was sizeable, however, like every other bastard food chain the harsh reality was very far removed from the theory. That said and done, as burgers go, it sort of looked like the ads, had the feel and weight of a quality burger, and showed no hint of off-color lettuce of soggy bun.

But, and many a woman is testament to this, what you see and what you expect can be entirely different things, and it was with hinge-attached jaw that folded back to take the first chomp into that Carl’s burger, with mixed results.

The burger is nice….not startling, not memorable as such, not inspiring, not ‘bring me more’, but good. The meat pattie was dry and tasteless with only the sauce providing any real indication that this was a meat burger. The buns were great, as were the obligatory fillings, but if one thing stood out, it was the layer of onion crisps piled on top. Now, if for nothing else you should try this burger. These are heaven-sent (and I’m an atheist), crunchy to the bite there can be nothing more satisfying to the palate than crispness, and as one chewed more and more, the burger became tasty, even fun to eat. Yep, first impressions last, but finer dissection lasts forever.

Alongside the burger sat those fries, beckoning me to relive my youth as dad used to deep fry skinned chips for dinner with homekill chops and sausages of every variety. There is a new king in town! I have never, and mean never, had better tasting fries than Carl’s. KFC, when they get it right (in the old days, when their salting was more than just a complimentary wave of the shaker) ruled, but Carl’s can make a living alone and have a determined following based on these fine morsels of taste. Get out there and order some…

It boggles the mind that I am still prepared to line my stomach with something that looks like an uncleaned 'gutted hedgehog'...still...

It boggles the mind that I am still prepared to line my stomach with something that looks like an uncleaned ‘gutted hedgehog’…still…

Carl’s will be a contender if the lazy and habitual are prepared to change. For the same money as McD’s and BK’s combos, and cheaper than KFC’s, Carl’s have the beginnings of making a real fist of the burger experience…however, one swallow does a blow job not make, or something to that effect, and in the interest of all that is fair and equal I will allow myself to be dragged, kicking and screaming back into a restaurant to try again…and again, and no doubt again and again.

Thanks Carl’s, it was a pleasure…until next time.

Book Review; After the Fire by Karen Campbell


ATFireImagine committing your life to serving justice only to have justice fail you.

Jamie Worth, career cop with the Scottish Police is due to go on holiday with his wife (an ex-cop) and two kids when there is an armed call out on the other side of town. Newly qualified to respond to firearms incidents he is detailed with another young recruit to assist officers already on the scene who advise of shots fired in a poor part of town and reports of a young girl brandishing a gun. In the high tension moments that follow Worth guns down the threat only to be shocked she was not armed at all.

What ensues is a case of his comrades closing ranks to make an example of him as a public increasingly concerned by firearms incidents demand their pound of flesh and Worth and his family have their life turned upside down as one by one their friends, their colleagues, and the system they served and believed in seemingly conspires against them, and ultimately Worth is imprisoned for murder.

Serving time is hard for anyone, imagine being a cop who put some of these criminals away? Going against everything he believed in civvy street, Worth must live to a new order to survive while his wife does likewise as she struggles with two kids and a community which has turned on her.

But someone steps in to help. Across the Atlantic, Anna Cameron, a Scottish officer serving the UN hears of Worth’s plight and comes home to investigate the investigation. There’s one small issue; she’s the former mistress of Jamie Worth, a fact that Worth’s wife is well aware of.

In a brilliantly written novel the reader is taken from the mundane to the unbelievable in the life of the police force, the normality of domestic life to the seedy underbelly of the child sex trade, and how far people will go to save their own skins, whether by fight or flight, or by altering the facts.

For 400-odd pages you could not ask for a better book to read as it builds to a climax that must surely be of biblical proportions, however in the one letdown in the book, the end came to quick. I felt somewhat ripped off not having more detail on the aftermath as Worth’s conviction was appealed and those who conspired against him, both in prison and in the police force, and still, a day later I feel like a chapter was forthcoming. But regardless, a great crime novel for anyone, and dare I say it, in poetically written Scottish which conjures up none other than Billy Connelly..

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