Posted in Books

Book Review: Fire in the Rain, by Surendra Mohanty

About the author:
Surendra Mohanty writes short stories. He served in the Indian Navy and retired as a Commander. This is his first novel.

Cover and blurb:
For me, the cover is the first impression that a book gives. I didn’t like it at all. It felt very childish and immature. The blurb felt interesting, and Ruskin Bond’s thought on the back cover was quite a recommendation. That’s what made me feel that the book deserves a chance.

My thoughts on the book:
Fire in the Rain… an odd title choice that confused me throughout the book, and it didn’t make sense till the last scene. Even then I’m not sure if that would be a proper title. So for those confused with the title, the book is a crime fiction genre.

Have you ever been drunk so much that you don’t remember a thing about the previous night? Well, such a situation starts us off, with Rehaan waking up in such a state, only to find a police officer and an army major there in his room to greet him. Why? Because the girl he was with the previous night was murdered and dumped close by. Not the best way to wake up, eh? The investigation starts then and there, with Rehaan dragged to the dumpsite to identify the body. Then there is a flashback to the previous night, before things speed up with an investigation of an even earlier incident to connect strings for this murder. While these two are being investigated, the author takes us to the mind of the criminal, as he commits more murders. Then we have a twist to the story towards the end.

For me, a good crime fiction needs to have four factors going its way – quick and engaging narration, the detective, the suspects and the motive for the crime. Yes, the narration was quick and engaging, and I finished my read in a few hours. I wouldn’t go as far as saying it can’t be put down once you start it, but it is good. The detective leading the investigation is ACP of the Mumbai Police, Jaswant Rao Kale. For a policeman presented as confident and in control, I felt Kale to be the opposite at times. When he can’t make head or tail of the case, he goes to a criminal psychologist for getting a profile made. It reminded me of the Numb3rs series on TV. I liked the idea, but just on a hunch by the psychologist about where the killer would strike next, Kale decides to go with it. It felt like clutching at straws. The suspects are toned down to two, Rehaan and the guy he was with, Varun. Seemed logical, given that they were two of the last three people seen with the victim, but I don’t know how within hours of the murder, the investigators pinpointed Rehaan, or found Sarika. Or even why Sarika was excluded as a potential killer. Since it is shown later that the sexual activity may have been consensual, that could easily have included Sarika too. But I quite enjoyed the “non existential” suspect idea, when Varun can’t be found. I thought it could have been a nice twist. I could see the pattern between the victims (not the dates of murder but the victims themselves) easily, so maybe the character of the psychologist was just to point toward the next city. Though Varun does come across as charming and all that, I don’t see the connection between what happened to him and his actions killing a girl on Friday the Thirteenth. Why kill four girls and then say all is fine after that? Why even kill for that matter? It left me wanting to know more about him, and that I didn’t get because of the dramatic ending. The motive for killing is trauma, which is somewhat understandable. After a shock, he turns to killing. But what I don’t understand is why it took 4 years for the killer in him to awaken? There were many Friday the Thirteenths in between, and for an angry man who wants to exact revenge, I don’t quite see him waiting 4 years to get past it and then get back to the past and begin killing. Even if he’s hunting a girl with those “characteristics”, it felt odd.

What works in the book? The pace and convincing narration takes you on an engaging trip. Though the three factors of detective, suspect and motive work only in parts, it is not completely absent. And the story feels like it could have happened. The investigation is thorough, and even has a few red herrings thrown in to keep the reader guessing.

Overall, a nice and quick read. What needs to change, and quickly, is the cover. That is a big turn off, and I can emphatically tell that a few of my friends, on seeing just the cover, questioned my judgement to even consider this book as a possible good read. I must mention though that this is a self published book, so good to see that the author to back his story and get the publishing work done himself. Best wishes for his future crime fictions.

Rated a 6/10
Rated 6/10

Book Details:
Title: Fire in the Rain
Author: Surendra Mohanty
ISBN: 978-93-5104-713-1
Genre: Crime Fiction
Publishers: Selfpublished
Price: INR. 100


This is an author-requested review, given for a review copy of the book, but no other payment.
The opinions expressed in the review are my own, and remain unbiased and uninfluenced.

Shared with
1) First Reads Challenge at b00k r3vi3ws
2) Indian Quills Reading Challenge at Tales Pensieve.

(Aug 3rd, 2013)

Posted in Books

Book Review: The King’s Deception (Cotton Malone #8), by Steve Berry

About the author:
Steve Berry is the author of the Cotton Malone series of novels. He is an international bestseller author whose books have sold over 12 million copies and translated into 40 languages. He has also taught writing to audiences across the globe.

Cover and blurb:
The cover shows a castle with a red swirl over it. This, plus the blurb about a 500 year old secret that is startling in its revelations, makes the story interesting. A historical thriller that I might love.

My thoughts:
Historical thrillers are something to ponder on. To be executed well, it should be researched well, and yet give the feel of continuity, like it flows from scene to scene, character to character and not stick to just the historical details. Reading Berry was a revelation of just such a book, well written and – borrowing a term I’ve heard from many of my friends these days – unputdownable.

The historical event – a secret that has been kept for and by generations of Tudors – brings in the interest for the reader at the start. Brought to the present time to set the tone for a little drama, the reader is taken back again in a flashback, as Cotton Malone narrates the events that got him and his younger son Gary involved in a case that revolved around that big Tudor secret. It’s the drama that sets the base for the case. To add to the interest is the impending release of a Libyan terrorist from a Scotland prison on humanitarian grounds, one that is seen as a reason for the world to question the power houses.

The secret threatens the monarchy, the monarchy has the power to change things, so this secret in the wrong hands would wreak havoc. To do that, a cunning and somewhat obsessed villain is needed. Berry gives us a few of them in this novel, but the one that stands out, and one that connects in a totally unexpected way, is rogue CIA agent Blake Antrim. Egoistical sod that he is, he is prepared to use any means necessary to complete his mission. The problem… the secret is half way across the world, stolen by a young boy. Cheeky, innovative and street smart, Ian’s character is appealing and yet a little confusing. You love him, but nitpicking a little, you begin to wonder how a boy, a petty thief ends up half way across the world running from people. Bringing him back to England is Malone, with his son Gary. Cotton is someone one can admire as the hero. He doesn’t have a panic button, takes the right decisions on the spur of the moment and such. Gary, well you could almost say he’s a chip off the old block (almost… almost!) The trio are kidnapped from Heathrow, and well, the rest is to you to find out.

Berry’s characterization is brilliant. He works his threads well, keeping us interested in his plotting, and also in the characters. Major characters are slowly developed, the secondary ones brought in and shot out (literally) when needed. There’s history, thrill and even some family drama in the book. Frankly, I didn’t feel the necessity for the third, the novel could have worked without it too. The secrets and the events come out well to hold the attention of the reader, albeit they might seem a little too easy to use. One thing I feel the book could use is a little bigger font size. I’d be thrilled to see that in future thrillers.

Interested in history, action and a fast-paced book? This, I feel, is one for you.

A rating of 8/10
A rating of 8/10

Book details:
Title: The King’s Deception
Author: Steve Berry
ISBN: 978-1-4447-5470-4
Genre: Historical / Thriller
Publishers: Hodder / Hachette India
Price: INR. 350


This book was given to me for review by Hachette India. This is not a paid review.
The opinions expressed in the review are my own, and remain unbiased and uninfluenced.

Shared with First Reads at b00k r3vi3ws.

(Aug 23rd, 2013)