Friday, May 24, 2013


A Pride of Kings by Justin Scott (1982) 

Last evening, I wrote five paragraphs of my proposed review of The Snake, a Mike Hammer novel by Mickey Spillane, for Friday’s Forgotten Books at Patti Abbott’s blog Pattinase. Since then, the Word file has vanished.

Something came up and I had to leave my seat in office. Before I did, however, I closed the file. When I came back, I took up something else, several news reports for editing. In between, I deleted a few files and I think my incomplete review of The Snake, which lay coiled on my desktop, accompanied them to the recycle bin. Now I have this habit of clearing the bin no sooner I delete files and images, it’s a sort of reflex action. I knew at once that The Snake was gone.

Had it really? I mean, what if I’d mixed up my review with some of the news stories I was editing? I remember copying and pasting stuff at the time. What if those five paragraphs became a part of a story on the outlook for India’s construction equipment market or India’s policy on offshore wind energy? What fun! I spent the next half-hour opening all the official Word and QuarkXPress files and going through each of them with a fine-tooth comb. The Snake was not to be found, not even a shred of snake skin.

I still don’t know what happened to my review. I learnt some lessons, though: never write a blog post with a print deadline hovering over your head; better still, never write a blog post in office and even if you do, never leave your desk until you have finished it; never forget to save after every few words (that I do) and never forget to store the file on multiple drives; never leave too many software (Word, Excel, Chrome, MS Outlook, NoteTab…), or folders, open at the same time, especially if you’re working on just one file; and finally, never ever multitask. I do all the time.

Could I rewrite those five paragraphs from memory? I could if I tried but I know it won’t have the same ring to it. Yesterday was yesterday. So I have decided to write it all over again for FFB next week.

So far, the title of the book in the headline hasn't justified the content. So I’m going to tell you something about it. I have not read A Pride of Kings since I bought it for Rs.20 (less than 25 cents) two weeks ago. The 620-page novel set during WWI promises to be “A burning epic of action, love and treachery” which it might well be. Consider this synopsis on the back cover…

"The Russian Empire 1916: At war with Germany, seething with dissent, boiling on the brink of revolution…

"There is only one man King George V can trust to go into this cauldron of violence and intrigue to bring out his cousin Czar Nicholas II.

"That man is naval officer Kenneth Ash. And in the glittering cities and frozen wastes of Russia, Ash faces not only the torturers and assassins who will try to stop him, but also a more insidious foe: he must confront the fear, the failure and the lost love of his own haunting past…and this time, he must win." 

Justin Scott, aka Paul Garrison, J.S. Blazer, and Alexander Cole, has written 23 thrillers and mystery novels, including The Shipkiller and Normandie Triangle, and is known as “the Dick Francis of yachting” because many of his books are set at sea. He has also collaborated with Clive Cussler on the Isaac Bell adventures. You can read more about Justin Scott at

The last book I read on the Russian empire was The Romanov Succession (1974) by Brian Garfield and I loved it. So I’m looking forward to reading this one.


  1. Hate when that happens. I once saved an old version of a novel over a new version. lost the edits only for a couple of days but it was pretty traumatic!

    1. Well, Charles, five paragraphs of a blog post were nothing compared to the couple of news stories I lost a few years ago. I had to sit down and retype them all over again. I also once lost the transcription of an interview because the mini recorder backfired.

  2. Not even a shred of snake skin. :)

    How do you feel about reading historical thrillers in which the end is already known? I mean, in this book - unless it is set in an alternate universe - we already know that Nicholas II is doomed.

    1. Neer, I love reading historical thrillers. I don't mind reading them even if the facts are known to me. Most historical thrillers have twists and turns, as did THE ROMANOV SUCCESSION, usually built around events that happened a long time ago. The stories are often more fictional than otherwise.