Book Review: Heads You Win

Reading the Cobra

That caught your interest, right?  If you think, I am going to tell what you should do when you see a cobra and how you can get away from it, you are mistaken.

It was completely unplanned.  My colleague and I were returning from a meeting.  My colleague, a voracious reader could not resist stopping at Crossword and making a few impulse purchases.  The occasional reader that I am, I browsed the empty bookstore (by empty, I mean - no customers - just a few staff), looking for something interesting.  As usual, the Crossword Top 10 Fiction/Non-fiction was the place to start.  The new novel of Khaled Hosseini seemed interesting.

Anyway, as I walked to the back of the store, I chanced upon a few books lying around with marked-down prices.  The Cobra was one of them.  It was a hard-copy edition, which said Rs.299/- in the back, but Rs.99/- as the markdown price.  Considering that even the roadside guy ends up charging about Rs.100/- for the "pirated" books, this was a good deal!  My colleague was quick to say that he was going to buy and gift this for me.

The book is written by Frederick Forsyth. I had read many of his earlier books (The Day of the Jackal, The Fourth Protocol, The Odessa File), when I was arguably too young for them - courtesy, my older cousins, who heavily influenced me (as well as provided the books).

Anyway, there it was - the hard-copy "The Cobra".

The plot is a secret American project to destroy cocaine supply from Columbia to Europe and USA.  It starts when the American President learns about the death of a young boy (the grandson of one of his staff). He asks his Chief of Staff to get information about cocaine, and based on the report, orders the destruction of the business. A retired CIA Director asks for a $2 billion budget and no questions asked to execute the project.  With the help of his contacts, he puts together a plan to identify and destroy the shipments of cocaine from Columbia to Europe and USA.  

The plan involves secretly shooting down plans carrying the supply, raiding and capturing shipments carrying the supply and exposing the people in various positions, who are aiding and abetting the business.  The plan also involves spreading misinformation to lead the cartel leader (the Don) to believe, some of his customers are involved in the mysteriously missing cocaine.   The latter leads to drug cartel gang wars, which also affect local populace in USA and Europe, finally leading to the termination of the project.

Frederick Forsyth's research of the subject makes the book very interesting to read.   The book is fast-paced and slows down only when describing the boats and aircraft used in the project.  Here the author exhibits his knowledge of these domain.   While there is a clear segregation of the good and the bad, it is also evident that to accomplish the ends, any means is acceptable.  The twist in the ending doesn't hurt either!

At 390-odd pages, the book is longish, but very readable and enjoyable.