Sunday 29 July 2012

Spinsters In Jeopardy
Ngaio Marsh
25.7.2012 to 28.7.2012
3/5 stars

This was my second Ngaio Marsh book, featuring British CID detective Roderick Alleyn. There were two aspects in this book that struck me as out of ordinary for a Marsh novel.
1.There were no references to the theater and play. The plot was without any connection to the stage. Most of her works are very much related to the stage, as her greatest passion was theater.
2.This was not a whodunnit, this was much more, a thriller, where the good and the bad were defined and segregated from the first chapter. So, the element of mystery was sadly missing.
The first point never bothered me, because I like mysteries and I never care whether they are set on the stage or on the streets. And, just because of this I was a bit disappointed with this book. Frankly speaking, when it comes to a thriller, it must have a lot of THRILLING moments in it. And, sadly, that was very much missing. The book had its own pace, but it wasn’t enough for a thriller.
There were hardly any THRILLING moments, which would put you on the edge of your seat. The sedate pace was perfect for a whodunnit, which the book was not.
However, there are no complaints regarding the characterization. The characters were well developed; and the language reflected the setting of the story, which was in France.
Not the best to come out from the pen of Dame Marsh, her other works are better, and that’s what made her one of “Golden Age's Queens of Crime”.

Wednesday 25 July 2012

The Perfect Murder
H.R.F. Keating
23.7.2012 to 25.7.2012
2/5 stars

The Perfect Murder by H.R.F. Keating is the first book of the series featuring Inspector Ghote of Bombay (now Mumbai C.I.D). I had always wanted to read this series, as I had been recommended about it a lot. But, after reading this book I can fairly say that I am hugely disappointed. And, I really have doubts whether I will ever read this series again.
The characters in this novel were not engrossing. Neither Inspector Ghote nor the other characters in the books. They were unreal, and somehow weren’t strong enough to hold my attention.
The plot was flimsy. For the first 120 odd pages the plot went nowhere, there were no concrete clues, or no direction in unraveling the mystery, in fact for the first half of the book I really wondered, that what was the mystery all about.
And, lastly the language. It was BAD. Maybe Keating had thought that Indians speak English in the ridiculous fashion as portrayed in the book, but today in India English is spoken as clearly and eligibly as in any English speaking country.
After I completed the book, which involved a lot of page skipping, I didn't have any concrete emotions or feelings about his book. I had problems writing this review as nothing was startlingly bad or good to remember and write about. For me this was a mediocre read. 

Monday 23 July 2012

A Morbid Taste for Bones
Ellis Peters
19.7.2012 to 23.7.2012
4/5 stars

I started reading this book after I was recommended by Goodreads. This was my first Ellis Peters mystery featuring Brother Cadfael. And, I can happily say that this won't be my last. This book can classify as a Cozy-mystery. The crime is very simple. The amount of blood and gore is almost non-existent, and the solution to the crime is pretty simple too. One doesn't have to re-read pages to get hold of the modus operandi of the killer or to understand the plot.
The protagonist, Brother Cadfael, is surely, according to me one of the best amateur detectives I have come across.  In this character we find a religious person who is not dogmatic. He believes in the Supreme Being, but also doesn't approve religious fanaticism. He is clearly skeptical about some of his fellow monks, their outward show of religious devotion and petty politics to gain power and position. He also shows his worldly attitude (before becoming a monk, he had fought in the crusades) when he approves, the romantic liaison of one of his fellow Brother. But, he believes in miracles and in powers of the Lord and doesn't question the miraculous happenings, when reported to him.
As I had earlier said, this book is a cozy mystery, set in the medieval period. The plot is devoid of any brutal scenes or gore. The motive of the killer is also very simple and deadly. The politics of the church described was very interesting to read. And, the best part according to me was the language. All through the book, I never felt that I was reading a novel set in the modern times. The language was so apt for that period, although sometimes it was hard to get through, but it was a big factor in keeping the medieval charm of the book intact.

Tuesday 17 July 2012

D is for Deadbeat
Sue Grafton
13.7.2012 to 16.7.2012
3.75/5 stars

This is the fourth installment of the Kinsey Millhone series by Sue Grafton. Though I enjoyed the book, but I won’t say that I was satisfied with it.
Firstly, the concept, that a P.I. would search heaven and earth, to find a bum who issued her a cheque which bounced, is not palatable for me. I mean, she had done only a few hours of work, and when she found out that he can’t be traced, there is always an option of writing it off as bad debt.
Instead she went on to prod and probe, and in the process finds out that the person she was searching for was found dead. When police was ready to believe it was an accident, Kinsey, believed that it was murder.
The book, picks up pace from here, every aspect of a Sue Grafton novel was present. Starting from the patient legwork, to asking a lot of questions. The sassy dialogues, the believable characters trying to hide facts from the P.I. And, we also get to see a bit of intimacy between Kinsey and her buddy Jonah Robb.
The ending for me was a let-down. Unlike her other novels by Ms.Grafton, the process of revealing the culprit is not done by Kinsey, the culprit reveals itself. Although Kinsey, did move in the right direction, but I like those situations where she puts an odd piece into the puzzle, and finds out the killer herself, which was not the case with this book.
For me, reading a Sue Grafton novel is always like a P.I. job. The element of thrill. And surprise, is there, but what is more importantly present is the level of patience. Her, books are never racy, or wouldn’t make anyone’s blood race. The reader has to patiently wade through the plot, put in legwork i.e. move through mundane fact finding and interview sessions with the P.I. And, then at last, put together all the pieces to find the answer to the puzzle.

Saturday 14 July 2012

Black Tide
Peter Temple
2/5 stars
9.7.2012 – 12.7.2012

This was my first Jack Irish thriller, by Peter Temple. And, I can safely say, that, this will be my last. This book was not interesting. The plot was mediocre, and the characterization was not properly done. And, I also had problem understanding the dialogues in the book.
My first problem with the book was, that, 60 odd pages down the line, I still couldn’t grasp the plot. Although, as per the blurb, I was reading about the protagonist trying to find out a missing person, but I found pages dedicated to matters relating to sale of a Soccer Club Photographs, horse racing(after reading 7 Dick Francis I have had enough of horse racing) and duplicate horses etc. Although these were very boring, but I couldn’t skip them, lest they turn out to be important, and somehow related to the main plot. But, after almost  half the book has gone by, realization dawned on me that these events were not related to the main plot, and that skipping them wouldn’t hurt, and so I started galloping, like a horse, through pages.
The characters were not developed. We hardly get to know anything about the villains. The abundance of characters in the book also makes it difficult to follow the flow of the plot. The dialogues were not good. They, according to my guess, were in the style of local vocabulary. As far as authenticity goes it was great, but as far as the plot goes, reading and getting the point, was very difficult.
And, lastly, the plot was flimsy. With the absence of a well defined villain, the plot never reached the height promised by the blurb. The book turned out to be a financial thriller, but by the end of the book, I had no interest in knowing, in detail, who, why or how laundered what money, how they planned to get off etc etc.

Wednesday 4 July 2012

Prince Of Fire (Gabriel Allon #5)
by Daniel Silva
28.6.2012 to 3.7.2012
3.75/5 stars

It had been a long time since I had read a spy thriller. I started my reading habits in school with Frederick Forsyth, Robert Ludlums and others. Somewhere in the middle I turned wholly towards detective thrillers. So, when I started this book, I had a lot of expectations from Daniel Silva. By the end of the book, he had managed to fulfill almost all off those expectations.
This book is about the protagonist, Gabriel Allon, trying to stop a mysterious terrorist, Khaled, from unleashing a wave of terror in European cities, on Jewish targets. Khaled apparently, has a celebrated terrorist blood running in his veins. Gabriel fails to stop him for carrying out his plot, but eventually manages to kill him in the end.
This book has a fast moving plot, but there is a certain lack of tightness in it. The flow of events for the protagonist was to smooth, for my liking. There was no visible offensive from the antagonist, until 2/3rd of the book had gone by. I like a thriller where the hero has to overcome a few hurdles to get to his target.
Another shortcoming I found in this book was that Khaled, being a master terrorist, was not developed nicely. His appearance in the book was very less, and left me wanting to know more about him, his exploits, and his modus operandi. I felt, that all the baddies deserved a little more exposure in the book.
One thing I liked was the way in which the author connected actual historical events with the protagonists in the book. Like the hero being involved in OPERATION WRATH OF GOD and so on.
The writing style was pulpy, the book had very few dull moments. In all, the book, in-spite of the short comings, was a page turner. Definitely one of the better thrillers I have read in recent times, looking forward to read more from the author.