As you will be able to deduce from my bookshelf, I read only Crime Fiction. My addiction for Crime Writing borders on the verge of being unhealthy, but I can’t help it. I have tried reading mainstream literature, and failed miserably doing so. Realized at once that my passion lies within the boundaries of Crime. But, believe me, I am not a criminal. I am a normal guy, who knows his life will never be as exciting as Inspector Morse, Elvis Cole or Kurt Wallander. So, I read to fulfill my fantasy, and I enjoy every moment of it. Besides reading, I have another unhealthy addiction towards music, and when I manage to turn sober after clearing the cobwebs of these addictions, I help my Dad in his business, and study to become a Public Accountant. And, someday I hope to be counted as one of the SERIOUS readers of crime fiction who, despite all warnings and better advice, stayed true and loyal to his favorite genre!!

The Universal Tone: My Life by Carlos Santana

The Universal Tone: My Life (Audio) - Carlos Santana

You know who was the original hippie? Jesus—the ultimate multidimensional, multicolor, nothing-but-love hippie. He never said, “It’s my way or the highway.”

How many people can claim that they were on first name basis with Miles Davis, Buddy Guy(though he used the surname of the author more often, Wayne Shorter and many such legends and yet be humble and down to earth. Even when he picks up a project of writing his autobiography. Very few can. Carlos Santana is one of them. He had proved this earlier with his words and music, and once again he proves that through THE UNIVERSAL TONE.

What is the best deal one can get from this book? The one which says that if you read this book, you will not only get to read about the life of Carlos, but also the reader will get a short and concise course on the life of Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Bill Graham. Carlos Santana almost speaks with a childlike joy when he starts on Miles and Coltrane. He gives away the vibe of an awestruck fan when he discusses their life, and their music. He speaks like a music addict high on his drug as he brings Buddy Guy, Otis Rush, Bola Sete, Gabor Szabo in his pages. He creates a book which not only talks about his life, his spirituality his vision but also gives the readers about his idols, his favourite “cats” as he calls them.

His friend Andre Agassi spoke about his addiction in his book aptly named OPEN. Carlos speaks about once hitting a woman, speaks about the infamous Woodstock based “Electric Snake” incident without any shame. He speaks about shunning cocaine and accepting marijuana. On how he felt the cool vibes coming from Rahsaan Roland Kirk and Wilson Pickett. Or how he still considers Frank Zappa a wonderful musician, even after the latter almost parodied Carlos in one of his song. He is open about his admiration for Guru Sri Chinmoy, his friendship mixed admiration for Armando Peraza, the man who urged his to take control of his eponymous band Santana. He speaks about his divorce from Deborah Santana, his devotion for Cindy Blackman. His admiration and anger towards his mom and dad.

This book could have been a five star if not for some minor glitches. One, he speaks almost nothing about Raul Rekow, the ultimate conger in the Santana family, or Orestes Vilato, the timbalero who along with Raul and Armando created the best rhythm section. I did skip a few pages where he talks about Alice Coltrane. I never synced up to Turiya’s music, and never went through the pages with her in them. That took away a star. Even though this still will be a must have for a Santana fan.

As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust (Flavia de Luce, #7) by Alan Bradley

As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust: A Flavia de Luce Novel - Alan Bradley

The last book had warned us readers, and this book confirmed our fears along with that of Flavia. She gets banished, to Miss. Bodycote’s Academy in Canada, to start her “training” which according to Aunt Felicity would fulfil her destiny, just like her mother. Flavia reaches Canada, accompanied by two “pills” called Dr. amd Mrs. Rainsmith. Mr. Rainsmith puts up his name in Flavia’s bad books as soon as he introduces himself,

“Dogger had once warned me to be wary of any man who introduced himself as “Mr.” It was an honorific, he said, a mark of respect to be bestowed by others, but never, ever, under any circumstances, upon oneself.”

On reaching Bodycote, Falvia gets assigned to a room called Edith Cavell. No sooner does she settles into her bed, she starts getting slapped, and then no sooner had she stopped and started the deduction process to find “why”, the assault-ress manages to bring down a body of a woman, which was hidden inside the chimney. As the head slides down the floor, the Chimney Sweepers come to dust, to clear away the puzzle regarding the dead woman, missing students and ghosts.

Flavia misses her village and her family, and Dogger. And we miss them as much as she does. But, to keep us away from our sadness we get to meet some entertaining students with nice names, a teacher suspected of homicide, a wheelchair bound mistress who keeps stuffed animals, birds and skulls in her laboratory and lastly a principal, who loves to punish her students in unimaginable ways.

Flavia transforms from a happy-go-lucky, and sometimes sad girl, into a “banished” adolescent far away from home, who realises that no letters are coming from home, except from Dogger. Who realises that the truth must be reached through facts, and only facts and that emotions should be kept at bay. And she also comes face to face with deep sadness. As such faced by a little girl who is far away from home, with no letters to look forward to, and no laboratory turn to.

“Magic doesn’t work when you’re sad.”

Flavia might have been heading towards new territory, but Alan Bradley stays rooted in his original position and presents us with a taut fast paced mystery, once a spy thriller and the next moment a gothic murder mystery, with “lights out after dark”, ghosts in the hall, and dead bodies never discovered, and if discovered, they are found stuffed inside chimneys. And he doesn’t disappoint when it comes to twists too. Not one, but two twists remain to be served in the last course.

P.S. Isn’t Dame Agatha Christie the greatest of them all?? Sometimes she looks to me like that Blues guitarist whose licks are sampled by everyone but no one gives him the credit for being a master musician. I think it’s for once and all that the tag attached to Christie, saying that she is a great plotter and a horrible writer, should be dropped. If she was a horrible writer then why would she be “sampled” hither and tither, and even if she IS a horrible writer, she still will remain the best. The Queen.

As Flavia said,

“Could I, by sheer chance, have stumbled upon one of those classic killings, such as those written about by Miss Christie, in which the murderer mocks the police by carrying out killings that mimic nursery rhymes or fairy tales?”

The Snack Thief (Inspector Montalbano, #3) by Andrea Camilleri

The Snack Thief - Andrea Camilleri, Stephen Sartarelli

The Snack Thief begins when a Tunisian immigrant, while on sea aboard a fishing boat is gunned down. Salvu refuses to get involved in that case as another body is found inside the elevator of a residential building. The two cases gets connected later as Salvu finds himself in front of a mystery involving characters ranging from a snack thief to an international criminal.

Camilleri, though used international politics in this book, kept it minimum and thus didn’t turn the book into a hardcore spy thriller. Rather he used the backdrop of international terrorism to create a piece of crime fiction which had a simple plot, and the flow of which wasn’t to bumpy. The book never entered the zone where the plot gets too twisted to follow; rather it maintained calmness throughout, with liberal sprinklings of twists here and there.

The book like the others from Camilleri weren’t devoid of humour. Paras which contained scenes of Salvu reading the newspaper and going through the headlines, though brutal, still brought laughter to the reader. These scenes return in every book, and the way in which the crimes are described makes them funny each time. Such is the quality of Andrea Camilleri as a writer.

The Laws of Murder (Charles Lenox Mysteries, #8) by Charles Finch

The Laws of Murder: A Charles Lenox Mystery - Charles Finch

The year is 1876, and Charles Lenox is just out of the parliament with some bad men to catch. Seven baddies to be exact, all of whom has eluded justice. The book starts as he packs away the sixth, felling him to a trap which used the baddy’s greed to full potential. And thus Lenox contemplates the last. The meanest and the baddest of them all. But, he knows it is not easy to catch that guy, so he opens a detective agency, something unheard of in those days, with three colleagues. Bad press, and worse quotes from a supposed friend inside Scotland Yard follows, and the business goes off to a rocky start. The three partners start to bring cases and money except Lenox. He sits idle and contemplates his future as a case drops into his lap, involving the dropping dead of that same bad mouthing good friend within the Yard. Inspector Jenkins.

What worked for me???

1. Great humanist mind-set shown by the protagonist towards animals. The lines dedicated towards the horses of London, showed Lenox to be a man of great humanity and advanced thinking, coming from an Age, when his peers were still hanging and flogging us Indians in India. Lenox even doubts whether they will be able to hold on to India for long. An advanced yet sacrilegious though during that time.

2. Children are difficult to understand in real life, except maybe for their mothers. And they are more difficult to write about. Alan Bradley is doing a wonderful job of having a child as his sleuth, and portraying her as a well-developed character. Though not a main point in this book, Lenox draws up children pretty effectively. Georgina is a treat to read about even in those small paras dedicated to her. With proper timing she is a protagonist in the making.

3. The setting of late 1800s London. For a man who never set his foot outside India, Lenox did a commendable job of describing London from the very first page. From her rain soaked to days to the posture of her citizens which shows they are idling away their time, his descriptions were vivid.

4. Characters. Most of them were well developed. Right from the partner, to the competitor and the culprit, everyone was shown in multi-dimensional ways, which justified their acts. It never felt that “OK, we don’t know about this guy and his life or his character, but we just know that he is the culprit”.

5. Twists. The book was a crime novel, and so by default required twists. And Lenox provides them in abundance. From baddies to holy men and women, everyone was made to go through his twist machine.

What didn’t work for me?

1. The length of the novel could have been shorter. Somehow the length was a bit of a dampener for me. The plot on its own would have been tight and more enjoyable had the book been 50 odd pages shorter.

Satan's Fire (Hugh Corbett #9) by Paul Doherty

Satan's Fire  - Paul Doherty

Satan’s Fire written by Paul C. Doherty and featuring Sir Hugh Corbett, a clerk in the court of Edward I of England starts when the King visits York to meet the French envoy, to discuss the terms of marriage between the King’s son and the daughter of the King of France, Phillip III. No sooner had he reached York, than there was an attack on his life, which ultimately is revealed to be a threat from the Old Man of the Mountain and the Assassins. He asks Sir Hugh to investigate the threats as he is convinced the Knight Templars are involved in a conspiracy against him. Sir Hugh himself receives a threat from the same source as he starts to dig for the truth with the added responsibility of finding out a counterfeit who is using Gold to make and circulate coins without the King’s permission.

If compared to the Matthew Shardlake novels of C.J. Sansom, (though it can’t be done) some distinctive points of difference arise. One, unlike Matthew, Sir Hugh definitely remains in the good books of the King, and he himself holds a lot of power. Two, the plot was like a mystery novel with a touch of political conspiracy, which made this book an outright Crime novel, unlike Sovereign (Shardlake novel #3) which had a lot of political conspiracy and turned into a political thriller from being a mere murder mystery. And lastly, the period differs. Sir Hugh is walking when the English are fighting the Scots, the Pope still holds control over Edward I, unlike Matthew whose life saw a different type of anarchy in England, the Reform.

Personally I liked Satan’s Fire more, as I prefer a straight Mystery novel where the murder remains the main plot. The solving of the crime involves clues and twists, which this book had in abundance. And most important, and ironically this has nothing to do with crime, this book involved the Crusades which still remains one of the most favourite topic of History for me.

Sovereign (Matthew Shardlake, #3) by C.J. Sansom

Sovereign - C.J. Sansom

Three things I fear when I start a book. A book which is not borrowed but bought from my own savings, a book which with these three points can spell “Yawanathon” for me and can literally throw me into financial ruin for investing in a worthless adventure. Those three points are,
1. The author’s proclamation of being a HUGE fan of P.D. James (God rest her soul in peace).
2. A book which is 660 pages long, with long paragraphs.
3. A blurb from Colin Dexter which speaks about the book’ other aspects, but doesn’t mention how good is the mystery.
And thus justifiably frightened and with an apprehensive attitude I started SOVERIEGN by C.J. Sansom, and within a first few chapters I found out that despite all the above three points being present I am starting to enjoy the book. And the book proved to be such a marvel that after a long time I broke my own rule “If a book is not finished within a week, then it’s too boring too finish..ever, so skip to the next book” and took 16 odd days to complete this marvellous piece of crime fiction which is set in the times of Henry VIII, the middle age Lothario.

This book is a revelation. How many protagonists do we come across who gets bullied, beaten and threatened by every bad guy in the town, including the King. This guy, Matthew Shardlake does. He is just a lawyer and he gets bullied and shaken by high ranking bada**, and like a normal human being he endures those insults instead of throwing caution to wind and challenging the lot, like some “fictional” protagonists with “fictional” abilities would do. When laughed and mocked at, due to his physical deformation, unlike some wise crack hero who uses wit to counter every remark, he silently suffers and at times vocally protests. He is shown to be a human, yes a clever one, but a human after all who feels sad, suffers when laughed at like most of us. Cudos to Sansom for creating such a character. And not to forget his assistant Jack Barak, a faithful companion who is outraged when his master is mocked, but gets angry when the same master questions his fiancé, but runs all over London just to save his master. Another very human character.

Lastly the plot, mashed with the historical atmosphere was something I lapped up like a hungry dog. Being a silent lover of history thrust into finance, I love to read these historical mysteries. I don’t complain if the historical part overshadows the mystery, but Sansom kept enough history, his descriptions of the reform, and King henry or the greed of Sir Richard Rich were very potent, never made it boring, and silently threw in a plot which is fast, which pits a man low in social strata against villains much higher in the pecking order, he exposes the man’s fears and the villain’s greed all within the framework of a tightly woven plot, and when the finishing pages starts arriving he unleashes twists after twists which is worthy of a standing ovation.

So, though I am sad of Dame Phyllis James death, I can never call myself a fan of her works. But, I am surely, from this day, counting myself as a fan of one of her fan, C.J. Sansom.

Roman Blood by Steven Saylor

Roman Blood  - Steven Saylor, Scott Harrison

Gordianus, who is also called the Finder is called upon by Cicero, the famed Roman orator and lawyer to take up the historical case of the parricide of Sextus Roscius. Gordianus accepts the case and starts looking for the truth, immediately seeing that the seemingly simple case is not simple at all. Threatened and laid off the case, he still digs for the truth, as the book moves towards a great finish.
The main problem I face while reading a Historical Whodunnit is that many a times the History overshadows the Crime and its solution. This book was not written that way. Saylor kept enough amount of history to make keep the ambience intact, and the reader interested in the historical perspective, he even used actual Historical figures, but throughout the book never did I once forget the fact that ultimately I am reading a piece of crime fiction, set in Ancient times. Throughout the book Saylor maintained the tense atmosphere of a crime novel, where the protagonist searches for an elusive truth, while being physically in danger and the characters around him either adds to the puzzle or helps him solve the puzzle.
Gordianus came out as a normal man, without any extra ordinary straits like extreme unhygienic or mood swings like a cricket ball. He is a normal man, with normal tastes and attributes. Though for a Roman his attitude towards his slave was too human to be true. But I guess he was one of those EXCEPTIONS back then who saw slaves as humans too.
A definitely enjoyable piece of crime fiction. Will surely read the rest of the books as the time moves on.

Murder In The Central Committee

Murder In The Central Committee - Manuel Vázquez Montalbán

Maybe I am too dense, or maybe I don’t understand English. But, this book just didn’t work out for me. Cause out of the 224 odd pages in this book I had already spent around 150 without getting a single clue to the investigation, I didn’t have any clue as to the life of the murder victim. And I also didn’t have any clue regarding the style of narration used.

And on top of everything, long paragraphs on Communism, and longer discussions of food. Make no mistake, I am a foodie, and I love to hate Communism, but I wouldn’t want an overdose of either two in a crime novel, where the crime, the clues, the detection and every other thing related to Crime writing does not takes a backseat but is entirely absent. A bad bad experience.

Or else the translator got it all wrong!!!

The Frozen Dead by Bernard Minier

The Frozen Dead - Bernard Minier

Once in a while I land myself with a book that helps me in reassuring myself that all is well with crime writing and THE FROZEN DEAD by Bernard Minier was one of those. All along I have maintained that what I look for most in a Mystery or a thriller is the plot. Most of the times my ratings depend upon the pace and the tightness of the plot, and added to those two very important aspect, I also look for twists. Not someone to shy away from a generous offering, I love my twists especially when they are strewn liberally all over the book.

Right from the beginning when a headless dead horse is found hanging, through the brutal murder of another man, right upto the end where he kept his last twist alive, Minier wrote a book that was pretty impossible to not to finish at one go. And boy did he almost turn this piece of crime writing into a horror novel. The use of the secluded landscape, the chilly weather, and the “madhouse” he created an atmosphere where I got goosebumps while reading. And I live in a tropical country. Not for a long time had I been so involved in a book I was reading. The last instance that comes to mind was a duo experience of BLUE HEAVEN by C.J. Box and another brilliant French effort IRENE from Pierre Lemaittre. And now this.

I guess the only aspect where Minier followed the well trodden path is while developing martin Servaz. He was divorced, grumpy, middle aged and overweight. A pretty standard character who solves an extraordinary crime. But, one this that did make Servaz a bit different from other fictional policemen was the fact that he felt frightened when the situation was frightening. He wasn’t made into a Superman with no fright and all gloom.

All in all a definite entry into my top Mysteries of all time. The pace of the plot, the twists, the atmosphere, the mad house and its inhabitants all made this book an experience to cherish.

Anarchy And Old Dogs - Colin Cotterill

When a blind man gets hit by a truck in Vientiene, Dr. Siri, Laos’ only coroner gets involved. The body of the dentist reveals nothing except for a blank page, which turns out to be a note written in invisible ink. Intrigued Dr. Siri along with Inspector Phosy visits the house of the deceased dentist and finds a clue that sends Dr. Siri and Civilai to Pakse in the south, and Phosy and Nurse Dtui east into Thailand.


One of the prime reasons I read Dr. Siri mysteries is for the humor element. The plot as it is never reaches the dizzying heights of a whodunit, but Cotteril’s humor, along with his elegant writing style, his descriptions and mainly his take,via Dr. Siri, on Communism and its effect provides me with enough fodder to enjoy the book thoroughly. And it was no different this time. Be it the diplomat who got fried in his bathtub, or the musings of “Inspector Migraine” wanting to solve the murder by eliminating suspects “one by one” were notably laughable. And without giving away the plot, or shouting spoiler alert, the conversation between the two old friends, Siri and Civilai, are deep and insightful. Especially where Siri defends the revolution and the ensuing talk that follows.


If not a must read, but still a book which should be picked up just to feel Dr. Siri and frankly it’s a shame to miss even one Dr. Siri mystery.

Fast and Pulpy!!!

Life or Death - Michael Robotham

Life and Death by Michael Robotham is no ground breaking work of crime fiction. Moreover it is filled with clichéd points which guarantees success for a standalone thriller. A wronged hero, some crooked cops, a “more” wronged woman who becomes the lady in the hero’s life, an honest cop with a physical attribute that makes her colleague point her out as a prank-target, and a sort-of-larger-than-life ally of the hero.

But, I loved it because it encompassed some of my favourite points too, the one which according to me makes a thriller thrilling to read. They are,

1.Pace- The book was the definition of “Unputdownable”

2.Plot – Though nothing out of ordinary, Robotham’s writing style kept me guessing for the larger part of the book. The characters were drawn into black and white but the plot was tightly woven and the lid was kept tightly shut.

3. Unbelievable characters and situations – I read purely for the purpose of entertainment. So, I love these impossible crimes, unbelievable characters, all woven into a plot which is fast pulpy and fun to read.

What more could I ask for???

Vanished: David Raker Novel #3 by Weaver, Tim (2012) Paperback - Tim Weaver

5 stars

Tim Weaver is a name I had never heard before, but now that I have finished reading VANISHED its hard to make his name vanish from my mind, because he weaves great tales of crime and he writes then in a way which makes them fast and entertaining. David Raker, a London based P.I. specialising in finding missing person takes up a case where he is asked to find a missing husband.

The basic plot wasn’t anything new, but the writing style, the suspense created and the smooth flow of the plot made the reading experience something to cherish. Weaver’s creation David Raker, though a widower, is not gloomy and grumpy and has a social life. A breath of fresh air among the many and clichéd gloomy protagonists.

The plot if anything was simple, but the presentation and the ending with a twist that would go down as one of my most favourite twist, is a real pleasure. He keeps the book fast and literally turns this book into a page turner. Though this is my first Tim Weaver book, I am sure it won’t be the last one.

Excursion to Tindari - Andrea Camilleri, Stephen Sartarelli

3.5 Stars

17.10.2014 to 20.10.2014

THE SHAPE OF WATER, the first Andrea Camilleri book I had read was fun to read. It was fast, the plot without being mind lowing was steady, and Salvu Montalbano without being irritating was grumpy and a wise crack. My second experience wasn’t any less. EXCURSION TO TINDARI featured the same Montalbano, grumpy and witty, the plot was equally fast, but the crime and the mystery surrounding it wasn’t as strong as I would have liked it to be. But the style of Camilleri’s writing kept the book moving, and thankfully there was never a dull moment.

This is a series I am falling in love with pretty fast. The setting is exotic, the writing is funny and the cases without being gory are brutal which gets solved by a grumpy witty detective. A must read for any crime fiction lover.

Good but not as Good as the previous two.

Edge of Eternity - Ken Follett

I am the reader and Ken Follett is the writer, so how can someone even think of an resultant rating less than 5 out of 5. Its impossible, so as per the rules I rate this book a full five!!
But, frankly speaking this (the last) instalment in the Century Trilogy didn’t stand up to the other two. If read as a standalone this book is still a great read, but since it’s a part of a trilogy, comparisons are inevitable. Among the three I still rate Fall of Giants as the best, Winter Of the World as Second best, and this one comes third in a three way race. What went wrong for me in this book? The characters went wrong. Somehow Evie or Maria never matched up to the fiery Maud or Ethel or even Carla. Rebecca from the Von Ulrich clan had the potential to become another crusading Ethel Leckwith, but sadly Follett never transformed her into a main character. Dimka and Tanya are the best characters in this book for me. Dimka, a good man with his unyielding faith in Communism, and Tanya seeing the Commies as a mistake really took the cake away from the Russian characters of the previous books. They were bolder, stronger and their actions were funnier to read. Volodya, Illya or even Grigory never left this deep a mark in my mind.
In a similar way the Americans and the British characters left me a bit down. It was very evident that Evie, Dave or George though strong characters on their own, could never match up to the revolutionary Ethel, the compassionate Maud or Billy Wiiliams. Even Fitz with his wrong conviction was so ripe to be hated, that when he makes a cameo appearance in this book and expresses his true feelings for Maud, both in their 80s, the feeling it created within me, surpassed the sum total of all the feelings created by the current characters. The earlier heroes were far too good. Maria in this instalment was good, but somehow Rosa was mind blowing.
But, this book on its own stood strong and tall. Most books I have read till date that were set in the 60s dealt with Vietnam, Follett used his talent and focused on another buring issues of the 60s in this book, the Civil rights Movement. Just as he highlighted the overshadowed but equally horrifying Action T-4 pogrom of the Nazis instead of the much more highlighted Jewish persecution pogrom. To live in a FREE country and to be denied even the basic human amenities just because of the colour of one’s skin is horrifying. And Follett skilfully highlights how the Kennedys sat and did almost nothing to break the civil rights deadlock, while a Southerner from Texas, Lyndon Johnson stood up and arm twisted the segregationist into seeing sense.
And lastly the beautiful portrayal of the Communists. If all Follett wrote about Kruschev, Brezhnev, the East Germans, the Stasi are true then thank God Communism was shown door by the popular public. They were the worst, they fought against the Nazis and then managed to create a situation where they started competing for the “Worst Dictatorships of the World” prize. They were so full of crap, that even a true Communist like Dimka felt that at last it is better fi there is no Red in the political landscape of the world.
Ken Follett is a master storyteller. His thriller are class apart. And he had proved his worth as a historical fiction author with his previous books too. This book wasn’t an exception. Being a 1100 page book this had every opportunity to become a yawnathon, but just like the previous two books it held pace. Fast, entertaining and a great short course in modern history(on specific issues) this book will definitely go down as one the most favourite books of 2014.


The Monogram Murders - Julian Rhind-Tutt, Agatha Christie, Sophie Hannah

Re-incarnations of detectives in hands of a different author seldom succeeds, except in the case of Holmes, but that was possible maybe because the reincarnator was Sir Doyle himself. But, apart from that exception re-incarnations are meant to be not as successful as the original. The stories of limited success are limitless. Take James Bond, John Gradener or Jeffrey Deaver, the books still didn’t read like a Fleming Bond. Recently Asterix suffered the same fate. Yes, the return of our favourite heroes albeit does keep us hooked, but, at the end of the day neither those books nor The Monogram Murders left me with a satisfied smile.

First lets dissect the book purely as a crime thriller. On that point the book would score 3 or 3.5. I love twists, no doubt about that. But nothing tastes good when it is heaped upon a reader without any limit. The number of twists in this book got to me. By the end of the book they didn’t seem like twists at all. A definite case of trying too hard. The plot seemed a bit awkward. I cant put my finger on it, but somehow this was definitely not an EVIL UNDER THE SUN, not even a HICKORY DICKORY DOCK. The plot never slowed down, it was fast, but sometimes it got too fast to really comprehend what was going on. But at the end of the day, the twists of the double plot, and the solution at the end turned this book into a decent crime thriller. There were no pretensions, and though the solving of the crime was left to some circumstantial evidences, the ending was neat.

Now as far as the book goes as a Hercule Poirot novel, the book scores a big ZERO for me. I don’t know why, but this Poirot never felt like the Poirot I had read before. But it didn’t started that way, the man was getting into the Poirot shoes when suddenly the character became an impersonator instead of the real egg shaped Belgian. No, this man is definitely not the HP I knew. And somehow Catchpool, really didnt fit my idea of Hastings. I rather hoped that Hannah would bring back Hastings along with HP in this book.

Lastly, I respect Sophie Hannah. This was not an easy task. Not only did she have to churn out a twister but she also had to re-create the famous Hercule Poirot. Not every venture succeeds but a courageous move should be saluted. So, I salute Ms. Hannah for trying to bring back my favourite detective to me. Though I might not have enjoyed as much as I would have like to, I would still not lose hope. Maybe the second book, if there is any, will bring back the old Poirot I knew.

Sidetracked - Henning Mankell, Steven T. Murray

My first brush with Mankell and Wallander wasn’t as exciting as I would have liked it to, or as I was lead to believe it would be. There was nothing wrong with the book; neither was there anything out of the world, or special about the book. It was just another Scandi crime thriller with some gore, a serial killer and a dose of “broken” police officer with a family and some personal troubles. The book wasn’t a dud, but to compare with Morse is a bit too much.
The problem began with the plot. I have serious issues with serial killers as focal point of a crime novel. Serial killers tend to be erratic, and they kill without any apparent motive, which in turn turns the book into a lengthy process of catch the guy with no motive to spice thing up in the finishing chapters. Though this wasn’t the case here, not at least in toto, but somehow by the end of the book I did feel that Mankell forgot to provide the reader with a motive as to why the four guys got killed. Yes, the motive is simple and the reader can sum it up on his own, but I guess it’s the duty of the writer to elucidate on that point. Bottom line, the book got over but we never got a motive.
And lastly the translation. I know it’s hard to capture the essence of a book when it’s getting translated, but is it too hard to try and not make the book sound like robot? Because that’s how the book sounded to me. Wooden and bland dialogues. Mankell took the way, where he shows us the culprit, and then takes us through a cat and mouse game where both the cat and the mouse is known to us. The tact was good, it was filled with suspense but the wooden words killed off any kind of suspense that was meant to be present.
Summing up, this is not a dud, as I had said earlier. But, neither is this a piece of art.

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Mistress of the Art of Death
Ariana Franklin