Posted in Books

Book Review: The Lost Years of Sherlock Holmes, by Ted Riccardi

About the author:
Ted Riccardi is professor emeritus in the Department of Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures at Columbia University. He has served as the counselor of cultural affairs at the United States embassy in New Delhi.

Cover and blurb:
Just a girl in a red veil on the cover, and the blurb speaks of Holmes’ travel in Asia and the cases he found there.

My thoughts:
When you take a classic and try to reinvent it, the essence of the classic still stay in the mind. The challenge is to put your idea across, yet not change that essence completely. It’s like what Ashok Banker has done to Indian mythology perhaps. Take the story, own it, retell it but not lose the magic. But that’s Indian mythology. When it’s a world renowned criminal detective, that challenge is a little harder. Over the last two years, I have read a couple of Sherlock Holmes fiction written by other authors. One has been loved, the other not. But it’s the character of Holmes that attracts me, so I didn’t hesitate to read.

The book’s premise is that Sherlock Holmes is not dead. He’s survived at the Reichenbach falls and traveled through Asia by himself, perfecting his skills and finding himself in new adventures, but without the good Dr. Watson at his side. He returns to Baker Street after his adventures, and on Watson’s curiosity being piqued by a letter, and crimes in London not piquing his, Holmes narrates stories starting with his adventure in India titled The Viceroy’s Assistant. The other stories include The Case of Hodgson’s Ghost, Envoy to Lhasa, The Singular Tragedy of Trincomalee, The Case of the French Savant, The Mystery at Jaisalmer, The Case of Anton Furer, The Giant Rat of Sumatra and Murder in the Thieves’ Bazaar.

For a Holmes fan like me, the stories lacked the Sherlock feel to it. The triple narration in the story is what brings it that confusion I guess. At one time, Holmes is saying a dialogue. Then Watson comes in saying Holmes is saying it, and then the character that features in the story starts a dialogue in first person. So the thrill that a scene begets, that’s kind of lost. The sense of thrill does exist, it hovers over the stories in a Holmes manner, but it doesn’t come to life like a Conan Doyle does. The author’s effort to bring that gripping narration is evident, and he succeeds in telling us the stories in simple language, and also manages to successfully is to create the setting and bring that to picturize in my mind easily. Overall, the stories were decent. Not fantastic, but not a flop either. Starts out well, but becomes slow toward the end.

I think I should mention that the cover design also felt strange. It is a Sherlock Holmes story. A girl in a red scarf or veil didn’t quite fit that magnitude in my opinion.


Rated a 7 on 10!
Rated a 7 on 10!

Book Details:
Title: The Lost Years of Sherlock Holmes
Author: Ted Riccardi
ISBN: 9788184954340
Genre: Crime Fiction
Publishers: Jaico Books
Price: INR 275

 


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


Shared with First Reads Challenge at b00k r3vi3ws./p>


(Oct 8th, 2013)

Posted in Books

Book Review: Classic Tales from Mystic India, by Kamla Kapur

About the author:
Kamla Kapur is a well-known poet and playwright from India. She has written for The Times of India and India Today before. She has won two national awards for her plays and has published two books of poetry.

Cover and blurb:
A wonderfully appealing cover to mythology buffs, and the stories inside I was sure would be just as appealing.

My thoughts:
Mythology is something that’s set deep in every culture, and especially I feel, in Indian culture. The various stories and tales related to gods and goddesses, world-saving avatars and demons (asuras), kind hearted kings or wise sages… they are part of our childhood that are difficult to forget. They’re magical, endearing and fun to hear. And fun to read too.

When a book comes with tales from mythology that I love and have sometime heard of, there is both a positive side to it, and also a negative side. The positive side is that I look forward to reading and recollecting those stories. I know what might happen because I have an inkling of it already in my heart. That kind of sets the negative side to it, I guess, because when it is something that is beloved and part of me, I have an expectation from the stories that they be just as magical and beautiful as I have pictured them to be. Tales from folklore and mythology calls for that tone of narration that bring the scene to life.

Classical Tales from Mystical India is a beautiful collection of stories, most of which I have heard of from my grandmother in my childhood. So I loved returning to them and picturizing them in my mind. Yes, the author brings the scene to our mind. That being said, the first thing that came to mind as I read the stories of Vishnu, was the lingo. Sage Narada has been shown calling Lord Vishnu as “Vishnu”. As far as I recollect, and have asked my family and friends too, Narada’s beloved phrase goes “Narayana, Narayana”. I’d have liked to see that as-is and not made to “Vishnu, Vishnu”. The introduction has the translation of Narayana and that it is Vishnu’s name itself, so I believe that would have been understood to the readers anyways. I loved the story of how Ganesha got his head, and I wasn’t actually aware of the legend behind it. All I had known was that Lord Shiva had to find a head facing a particular direction to merge into Ganesha’s body (beheaded by him). I enjoyed reading Sudama’s visit to Krishna and the story of Hanuman’s devotion to Rama as well.

Very enjoyable book, and I’d be re-reading it often as well. Oh, nearly forgot. The images inside the book are absolutely magnificent as well.


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

Book Details:
Title: Classic Tales from Mystic India
Author: Kamla K. Kapur
ISBN: 9788184954463
Genre: Mythology
Publishers: Jaico Books
Price: INR 225

 


This book was given to me for review by Jaico Books. This is not a paid review.
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.


(Oct 8th, 2013)