Saturday 30 March 2013

Darkest Fear (Myron Bolitar, #7)Darkest Fear by Harlan Coben
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I hereby officially declare Harlan Coben as my favorite writer(among the ones who are still writing). When I pick up one of his books I stay rest assured that come what may I am picking up a book which won’t disappoint me. And he delivers. Be his standalones or his Myron Bolitar series.

Myron is approached by his ex-girlfriend to find a missing bone marrow donor. Emily’s son(of whom Myron is the biological father) is suffering from a disease for which he needs a bone marrow transplant. So, Myron with the help of Win and Esperanza goes off in search for the missing donor, and in the process clears up an old case involving a serial killer.

Nothing much to write except that I enjoyed the book. It was right up my comfortable zone of having a amateur detective and a plot which is VERY twisted. I loved the writing style and the humor which came with every Bolitar book. So, anyone who loves fast paced mysteries with a dose of twist in the end would love this too.

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Saturday 23 March 2013

You Belong To MeYou Belong To Me by Mary Higgins Clark

Have you ever read more than one MHC book before this? You have. Well then don’t bother with this one, because you will find nothing new and nothing remotely interesting in it.

What has this book got? Upper class lonely women getting whacked by upper class psycho male, while travelling on upper class ocean liners. Clichéd psychiatrist trying to solve cases which have no connection with her; clichéd philanthropist trying to hit on clichéd psychiatrist in a boring clichéd way. Plot going nowhere as a clichéd serial killer tries to find his fifth and final victim, as he talks to himself and roams the streets all alone. Why fifth shall be the final?? I have no idea. Maybe the reason was somewhere in the later part of the book but I never bothered finishing it.

Four suspects were given to us. All upper class people. It seems according to MHC only rich people kills and gets killed.
1. A handsome bachelor “great guy” philanthropist.
2. A widower psychiatrist who has secret travels to hide.
3. A dishonest lawyer who has secrets to hide.
4. An architect who has temper and jealousy issues.

Just use the MHC formula, and you will get the murderer from this review alone. It’s no rocket science. Motive??? Well he is a serial killer in a clichéd book, so he must have had an abusive step-mother, who was bad and that’s the reason he kills women as he feels by killing them he is killing his step mother.

P.S. I bought this book. And I have another MHC still to read. I guess this is how GOD pays back for our sins!!!

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Friday 22 March 2013

Without Fail (Jack Reacher, #6)Without Fail by Lee Child
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So, Jack Reacher reads Fyodor Dostoevsky. But, unlike Fyodor, he admits that he doesn’t have the talent for words. So, he expresses his feelings towards the bad guys through the way, in which he has talent i.e. bashing them up. And, thats the reason I like Jack more than Fyodor(not that I have read any of his books), because today a punch, as it seems makes more impact than the pen.

Now, the book. Reacher is in Atlanta with a couple of old blues musician, when his deceased brother’s ex-fiancé comes up to him and asks him to help her with the job of protecting the Vice-President of USA. He agrees, and when Reacher agrees to some job, bodies are bound to fall all around him, and they fell.

I have read only 4 Reacher novels till date and only once I encountered him engaged in an investigation officially, that was in THE ENEMY and it was in this book. Did I like it? No, I didn’t. The maverick Jack Reacher is a far more enjoyable to read, than a “GOVT-EMPLOYED” Reacher. And, moreover, in most Reacher books I have read, the plot involves a conspiracy into which he stumbles, but not his one. Here it was much more of a pseudo-cop whodunit plot, where he is asked and paid for his job. He even wears a suit in this book. Come what may, Reacher wearing a suit is as bad as Tom Cruise as and in Jack Reacher. No I guess the Cruise debacle was worse.

Lee Child is a great action thriller writer but he is not Agatha Christie. He packs punches whenever and wherever needed. But, he doesn’t have the twists needed for a whodunit. What he has is enough for his action novels, but sadly wasn’t enough for this one.

But, guess what his name is Lee Child and he knows how to keep the reader glued to the pages. Fast pace, great action and catchy dialogues, and a good plot, he packs them all. He did it with this book too, and did it in a way which overshadowed the misgivings I had. And as a result I enjoyed reading it. And, I always think highly of writer who entertain, be it Lee or Fyodor.

P.S. Jack Reacher is a man’s man. If not for anything else he will stay at the top of my fictional hero list, just because he loves the Blues. Anyone who loves Blues is the man.

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Wednesday 20 March 2013

No Place Like HomeNo Place Like Home by Mary Higgins Clark
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

“Liar liar pants on fire”

This was the theme of “No place Like Home” by Mary Higgins Clark. If you lie once, you will need other lies to corroborate that initial lie. So, don’t lie and your life wouldn’t become like the plot of this book.

Liza Barton, killed her mother while trying to save her from her husband, when she was young. Then she was acquitted, she changed her name to Celia Kellogg, and moved on. Only to find her own husband no.2 gifting her the same house where she killed her mother. As she starts living there, bodies start falling all around her and she is dragged back to the horrors of her childhood.

Now this one was done in the typical MHC style. Action from first page, cliff hanging chapter endings, damsel in distress, with knight in shining armour everything was there. But, the problem with her style is that once you have read a few of her books, you can easily guess as to what might happen with the book you are reading. As it was, I guessed the identity of the main culprit within the first few chapters.

But, that’s not the point. The point is that how the culprit was unmasked. The process, the clues. The deduction and the chase. These makes the book memorable for me. And, MHC in most of her books describes the “HOWCATCHEM” part in a way that keeps the reader hooked and guessing. But, sadly that was not the case here. Here the plot was moving and suddenly everyone started connecting the dots and without a moment’s notice the culprit was spotted. I thoroughly missed the build up, the tension that comes from the bit by bit revealing of the clues, leading up to the grand showdown.

And, somehow I felt the book was slow. The pace typical of a MHC thriller was missing. Summing up, this was just an average thriller from a more than average writer.

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Sunday 17 March 2013

Nothing to Lose (Jack Reacher, #12)Nothing to Lose by Lee Child
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A thriller is a kind of book which is meant to thrill the reader. So, when Lee Child sits down and writes a book I am rest assured that if not anything else that the book will thrill me. And, it does, not just me, but also the million fans of Child all over the world.

This book thrilled me, but other than that I can’t say that it did much else. Recaher while drifting enters a town called Despair. No sooner had he entered the town than he finds himself being thrown away out of it, slapped with a vagrancy charge. Not before he had managed to break one of the town deputy’s noses. Reacher doesn’t like getting pushed, so he goes back into the town and then, as a result of Lee Child style, all hell breaks loose with Reacher standing in path of the impending doom, with a lady as the co-warrior.

Now here I guess, lays the biggest flaw of the book. The motive wasn’t strong enough for Reacher to do all the things he did after he was thrown out of the town for the first time. Ok, granted that he is a one-man-army, and he doesn’t like to be pushed around but is it a motive strong enough to snoop around in a town where he is not wanted?? No matter what is hidden there, waiting to be busted or discovered.

Other than this single yet strong flaw, everything was totally Lee Child style. Dialogues, and the pace of the book, everything. He really knows how to build suspense, in every book he writes he builds up the tension from page one, making the reader guess and anticipate the impending doom. Sometimes the ending matches the suspense created earlier; sometimes it doesn’t, as was the case with this book. But, good ending or not, the reading experience is always top grade. Breezing through the pages never poses a problem for me. But, the book could have been 100 pages shorter cutting the pages filled with action sequences and boring travelogue.

Summing up, this book is a light read. Nothing much to expect and definitely not one of Child’s better efforts. Recommended only for hardcore Reacher fans, other readers can happily skip this one.

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Friday 15 March 2013

Dame Agatha Christie.

I started reading her books, borrowing them from my school library. Murder On the Links it was. The year was 1997. My first Christie. I can safely say I did not like it. Who was this pompous silly moustached Belgian??? Why does he have to be so funny??? I never did understand why my seniors were so enamoured by this little Belgian with an egg shaped head, always so sure of himself and his little grey cells. So, I happily went back to my dose of comics featuring yet another Belgian, Tintin.

2004 and I started my graduation course, and I started searching for something interesting to read. And I came up face to face with Agatha Christie again. I hadn’t forgotten the last time, yet I took a chance and bought the book. MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS it was. And the rest as they say is “STILL CONTINUING”.

Almost a decade has gone by, yet my admiration for Dame Christie has grown, by unhealthy proportions. Marple, Poirot, Parker Pyne, Tommy and Tuppence, her standalones, I have read re-read them time and time again, yet I am never bored.

And, then came the movies and the TV series. Oh, what joy it was to finally see Poirot and Marple in flesh albeit inside the idiot box. But, the stories became alive, gave a new dimension to my obsession. They say Ustinov wasn’t fit as Poirot??? I beg to differ. Everyone from Finney, to Ustinov and off course Suchet added color to the enigmatic Poirot. The same can be said about Marple. Joan Hickson to Geraldine McEwan and now Julia McKenzie, everyone has added their own colour to the already colourful Miss Jane Marple.

Now I read only thrillers. Nothing else. How can I? Christie showed me that in detective fiction, there is hidden the greatest emotions of a human being. Greed, anger, lust, jealousy drive normal people into taking away lives, and then comes the NEMESIS, in guise of a moustached Belgian or a old British lady and shows us that come what may the good always triumphs over the evil. Isn’t that, what we all have been taught from our childhood?

P.S. PD James in one of her essays said that Christie wasn’t as good a writer as Marsh, Sayers or Allingham. I beg to differ, Agatha Christie was, is and will remain the GREATEST of the four QUEEN of Golden Age Crime.

Thursday 14 March 2013

Do Not Exceed The Stated DoseDo Not Exceed The Stated Dose by Peter Lovesey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In a foreword to this collection of short stories, Peter Lovesey wrote that he doesn’t care much about the comfort of the reader. And, that if the reader feels comfortable while reading the stories he would assume that he has failed as a writer. Isn’t that a pretty insensitive thing to say for a writer? I guess it is.

But, then I wonder, why all writers aren’t as insensitive as him. I would love if every writer would just throw away all the worries regarding the reader’s comfort and write stories that would push the reader to the edge of their seat, increase their heartbeat, and make them uncomfortable. I wouldn’t even mind if I had a heart attack while reading it. At least I would die happy, knowing that I died because I was reading a thrilling book which made me perspire, increased my heartbeat and led me to my demise.

Do Not Exceed The Stated Dose, is a collection of fourteen short stories and one novella. Short stories are a different ballgame. Not only there is a restriction on the number of words but also an added responsibility of providing a twist. So, naturally not every writer is not capable or rather manages to write good crime short stories. Apparently Peter Lovesey does.

The stories in this book were delicately short, cunningly clever and dangerously twisted. And, not only there were crime stories, but there were also a couple of stories with distinct supernatural element in them. And, among all the stories only 3 could be said to be not up to the mark. Not that they were not good, but they were not as exciting as the others.

A highly enjoyable book recommended to everyone who wants to take a break from reading novels and would be in a mood for going for short stories.

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Wednesday 13 March 2013

7th Heaven (Women's Murder Club, #7)7th Heaven by James Patterson
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Once upon a time James Patterson used to be a good writer, and now all those times seem to be stuff of legend, because what he manufactures nowadays, this can hardly be called writing, is too plastic, bland, unreal and BAD to be taken seriously. This book can be singularly called the worst book I have read in the past 15 months. In contention for the title were other Patterson novels like Sail and the 5th Horseman.

No plot, no characters to like this book was the perfect BAD CRIME NOVEL. When I had first read a Patterson, I thought he was one of the greatest. But, within a couple of readings I caught on to his style or trick, and could easily predict what is going to happen. He starts with two parallel plots, and then starts jumping back and forth between the two, and in the end like a dumb student who somehow just wants to finish his mathematics question, he finishes the book. Just like that!!!

Add to that, silly protagonists. The Women Murder club!!! How clichéd can this get. An all girl band trying to right the wrong. Sometimes I do wonder what happened to Marple and Millhone, but going by the sales of Patterson’s books it is evident that people not only read his books but like them too.

Just stay away from this book. Don’t read it. Stay away from James Patterson, because he gives crime fiction a bad name. And, don’t buy his books then you will have to read them!! Just like me, as I still have two of his books on my to-read shelf, which I had bought!!! Sigh!!!

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Tuesday 12 March 2013

Veiled OneVeiled One by Ruth Rendell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I started The Veiled One with some apprehension. I am not a big fan of psychological mysteries, recently biting the dust after reading Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, which was high on psychology and very low on twists and thrill. And, as Rendell is known for her psychological mysteries, more for her ‘why-done-it’ than the ‘who-done-it’, I started this book cautiously, not sure what to expect. But, by the end, I was panting, out of breath, and trying to tell everyone that what a great crime novel I had just finished.

I can spare only one line for the plot, anything more would take away the pleasure of the discovery of the motive or the culprit. A woman is found garrotted to death in a shopping mall car park, and Wexford along with Burden is called upon to investigate the death.

The characters were richly drawn. Rendell had spent a lot of words on her characters. Even those with small parts were given an identity of their own. But, she did it in such a way that they never obstructed the flow of the plot. In fact, they became a part of the main plot. It was almost that if the reader didn’t go through these characterisations, the mystery would remain incomplete.

The plot, as well as the book started off at a moderate speed. But, as the book progressed, especially after 3/4th had gone by, I was disappointed and was ready to give the book a 2 star rating. But, then the twists started coming, hard and fast, and I was hooked. I was hooked and I had decided to give the book a minimum of 5 stars.

A highly enjoyable book. Highly recommended to any reader who loves a traditional British mystery with a dose of twist, and a gentleman detective with a sidekick, present to solve the case.

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Miss Melville ReturnsMiss Melville Returns by Evelyn E. Smith
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Miss Melville Returns
Evelyn E. Smith
3.5 stars

Good cozy mystery in the style of old school Golden Age crime fiction. This book was the second in the series of crime novels featuring Susan Melville, a paid assassin turned painter.
The plot was good, nothing great but nothing to want to stop reading. In a way, it never offered much and made me satisfied with what it actually gave back. The pace of the book was fast, the clues were generously provided and the red herrings were present where they would have mattered most.
The ending could have been better. Taking into the fact that the plot showed promise of a good ending. The culprit at the end confessed the crime, which was a damper. The way in which Miss Melville was connecting the dots and creating the final picture, it would have been better had she been the one to figure it all out.
All in all, an enjoyable read. Recommended, though not highly, to anyone who likes good mysteries, numerous characters, less blood and gore and little twists i.e. cozy mystery lovers.

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Monday 11 March 2013

Gillian Flynn
2.5 stars

"Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again"

Gillian Flynn is the new John Le Carre of my reading life. Just like Le Carre novel, when I finish them, I am left with a strange feeling of confusion. Neither do I hate the book; like I hate a PD James novel, nor do I worship it, as I would in case of a Lee Child novel. I feel confused as to why the books are considered as gems and master pieces of their genre. Neither do I find any outright negative points to say otherwise, nor do I stumble upon any positive ones to go GA-GA over it. SO, I get confused, did I miss any points or a twist? Something which would have tilted my opinion favourably. I try hard to think back, but I find nothing. So, confused I try to answer a simple question,
“Why is such an ordinary book talked about in a way, as if, it is the best book of the century??”

Back to GONE GIRL by Gillian Flynn. And, I am confused. What is the big deal with this book?? Has no one read the short story “Trial and Error” by Jeffery Archer??? Well if they had, I guess like me they, they would all understand what’s gonna happen, just from reading the blurb. The plot as it is, is simple, the ending a bit over-the-top. But, this is no “Murder of Roger Ackroyd” where one chapter would define the term TWIST in context of crime fiction. Nothing has been written in this book, that hadn’t been written before, in a better way!!

So, what was the best part of the book for me? The part where the writer  honestly doles out on true scene after another to show us how why marriage is really a GAMBLE and how bad it can really get if a wrong call is made. This book could have been well marketed as “The book which will help you to decide whether or not to marry”. One read, and the unmarried reader would have surely made up his/her mind.

The main characters were chillingly real and close to the reader. We all know real people with amazing similarity to the main characters of Nick and Amy. It’s almost as if the whole thing described in the book could happen to us, to me. I for sure knew two Amy-s in my lifetime, and I can honestly admit that some of Nick’s habits were similar to me. These characters were rally frighteningly real.

This book was an enjoyable read, but this was not a book which I would remember reading for the right reasons i.e. the plot, the characters and the twists. I would rather remember it as a book, which didn’t match up to the hype surrounding it.

I really wanted this book to be THE BOOK, which I would read and wouldn’t be able to wait until I had discussed it with someone. But, it didn’t happen that way. It was just another more than average thriller albeit with very real characters but a thin and simple plot, and with a female lead called Amy whose portrayal reminded me of Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca!!