Posted in Books

Book Review: Death du Jour (Temperance Brennan #2), by Kathy Reichs

About the author:
Kathy Reichs is a forensic anthropologist for the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, State of North Carolina, and for the Laboratoire des Sciences Judiciaires et de Médecine Légale for the province of Quebec.

Thoughts on the cover page:
Frankly, I’ve seen better designs, and some of the other editions of the book have better covers too. The hand inside what seems like a shallow grave does invoke curiosity but doesn’t do much else.

Impressions from the blurb:
The forensic anthropologist, exhuming a set of remains for non-criminal purposes, later gets called to the scene of an arson case. The case might tie in to the non-criminal thing she was earlier doing, because the blurb indicates a cult activity. It certainly seems to be an interesting plot.

My thoughts on the book:
Never read Kathy’s novels before, didn’t know what to expect, but the plot really caught my attention. This is the second book in the series, so needless to say, I’ve put the first one on my to-read list.

When the story begins, Temperance Brennan is exhuming the remains of a nun whose name has been put for beatification. Reichs, herself an anthropologist, puts a lot of detail into the narration here. The exhumation doesn’t go to plan and she’s there longer than needed. It’s late by the time she reaches home, but she has no time to rest. Her boss calls, tells her there’s a big arson case that needs her attention. She gets picked up early morning and goes to a badly burned down home to find that one of the victims might not be the victim of the fire. From there, she shunts between two cases.

The plus points in the book are its pace and narration. The minus, its flow is somewhat predictable. Unsure if I liked the ending or not. Overall, not a bad book, but I’ve seen better.


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

Book details:
Title: Death du Jour
Author: Kathy Reichs
ISBN: 978-0-0992-5519-2
Publishers: Arrow Books
Genre: Crime Fiction / Thriller
Price: INR. 399

 


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


Shared with the First Reads challenge at b00k r3vi3ws.


(May 6th, 2013)

Posted in Books

Book Review: Salvation of a Saint (Detective Galileo #4), by Keigo Higashino

About the author:
Keigo Higashino is one of the more popular authors in Japan and the cover of the book shows the Times quoting him to be the Japanese Steig Larsson. He is known for his fiction series involving physicist Manabu Yukawa (Detective Galileo) and Detective Kusanagi. The first book in the series became the second-most selling book in Japan, including non-fiction books as well.

From the description:
When a man is discovered dead by poisoning in his empty home, his wife falls immediately under suspicion. All clues point to Ayane being the logical suspect but how could she have committed the crime when she was hundreds of miles away? As Tokyo police detective Kusanagi tries to unpick a seemingly unrelated sequence of events, he finds himself falling for Ayane. When his judgment becomes dangerously clouded, his assistant must call on an old friend for help; it will take a genius to unravel this most spectacular web of deceit they have ever faced.

My thoughts on the book:
So at the beginning, we have a troubled couple, Ayane and Yoshitaka who are discussing some marital problems that relate with having a child (or not as the case may be). The story moves on to a small party where they discuss something random, but where the having a child thing is mentioned. We also get to know Ayane is going away to her parents house in Sapporo, and afterward that Yoshitaka is seeing someone else – the prodigy of Ayane (who is a famous artist), Hiromi Wakayama. When Yoshitaka is found murdered by the mistress later on, the case really begins, and the suspect pool is narrowed to two people, Ayane and Hiromi – the catch being that Ayane was many miles away from the crime scene.

Kusanagi, the lead detective finds himself smitten by Ayane and his instinct says to him that Ayane is innocent and that it is Hiromi who should be the criminal. However, Utsumi, his deputy, is reluctant to take that at face value and puts forward her case to the chief (Mamiya) as well. The investigation, very fluently narrated by Higashino, goes in those lines afterward.

When Utsumi feels Kusanagi’s “love” is interfering in his decisions and the case, she brings Yukawa (Detective Galileo) into the picture. I like this character, a laid-back Physics professor who has his own ideas and depends on the evidence to base his ideas, no matter how fantasaical they seem.

For me, the plus points in this book were more than the negative ones. Gripping narration, so much so that I finished it in a few hours at one sitting. Great character buildup and attention to detail in the investigation of the crime. I had to go back once to actually make sure I was on the right track and it made me happy that I was. The fact that Kusanagi is smitten is also brought out well, but not to the point that it ends up like a mushy side story, and just subtly enough to make the reader go, “Come on Detective, don’t go that way!” The character of Ayane is deeper, and she’s calm composed and co-operative, everything you’d not expect a grieving widow to be. Even when the “who” is solved, the “why” and the “how” still make us go “wow”. If a negative must be sought, I feel it is the point that we are left leaning toward one suspect towards and after the middle parts of the story.

Closing thoughts:
Each chapter I feel is woven with keeping the interest of the reader in the plot and it certainly kept mine. Like Yukawa says, “It’s the case which piqued my interest, rather than the detective who presented it to me”. Though the narration leaves us leaning toward one suspect toward the middle of the story, that doesn’t detract from the gripping handling of the plot, the character sketching or the attention to detail be it in the case or the distraction from the same of the lead detective. I very much enjoyed this.


Rated a 9/10
Rated a 9/10

Book details:
Title: Salvation of a Saint
Series: Detective Galileo #2
Author: Keigo Higashino
ISBN: 978-0-3491-3934-0
Genre: Crime Fiction
Publishers: Abacus Books
Price: INR. 350

 


This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!
The opinions expressed in the review are my own, and remain unbiased and uninfluenced, and is not a paid review.


Also for the First Reads challenge at b00k r3vi3ws.


(May 1st, 2013)

Posted in Books

Book Review: Alex Cross, Run (Alex Cross #20); by James Patterson

About the author:
James Patterson is an American author of thriller novels best known for his series on the fictional psychologist Alex Cross.

My thoughts on the book:
Even when a book is your first of a particular author, if that particular author is a very famous one, there comes along a certain expectation from the book. When I got this book to read, I had an expectation of the book to be a damn good thriller.

We begin with Alex Cross busting two guys, Elijah Creem and Josh Bergman, and in the process, outing them and bringing them into disrepute. The plot then revolves around the two of them seeking retribution, by beginning to kill, and kill at random, however leaving distinct signatures on their victims.

Alex Cross is called to investigate on the first three victims of Creem and Bergman’s killing spree. In the meantime, he’s having problems at home, with his foster child Ava not settling in. Unknown to him, he’s also being stalked by another person who wants to make Cross’ life miserable, and finally end it.

With the “who” and “how” parts of the crime already obvious in the plot, the story depends largely on the “why”. The characters sync with each other, and the personal aspect of Cross’ family life also seems very believable, that such incidents could very well have happened in any other criminologist’s real life.

Positives:
Even with the story dependent largely on the “why”, the thrill factor is quite good. Like the back cover says, “The pages turn themselves”, it flows quite well, and you don’t feel any drag factor whatsoever. I never felt like putting the book down, and finished it quite quickly.

Negatives:
Some parts seem to be left unsolved still. Not sure whether it’s a ploy to continue on to the next novel in the series, but it felt odd to me. These parts though, don’t stand out obviously unless you are looking at it too closely.

Overall:
A real page turner, with nothing much holding it back other than just minute details that may or may not mean much on a larger perspective.


Rated a 9/10
Rated a 9/10

Book details:
Title: Alex Cross, Run
Author: James Patterson
ISBN: 978-0-099-58066-9
Genre: Mystery/Crime Thriller
Publishers: Arrow Books
Price: Rs. 350

 
 


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


Shared with the First Reads challenge at b00k r3vi3ws.


(March 5th, 2013)

Posted in Books

Book Review: The Adventure of the Missing Girl, by Roy Segal

Impressions from the description:
A promising case of the legendary detective… one more personal than most since the client this time is Detective Lestrade. The case is like a short story itself, so to bring the problem and solution quickly would be a challenge.

My thoughts on the book:
When a Sherlock Holmes mystery is written by someone other than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the first thing a die-hard fan of the legendary detective would look for is to see if the plot and the narration would be nearly as good. Sherlock leaves such an impression on us that anything below par would stand out easily.

Roy Segal’s two-part e-Novella “The Adventure of the Missing Girl” starts by Watson’s introduction that Holmes had gone back to his vice, the 7% solution of cocaine since the cases that he gets are so easy that it isn’t a challenge to his brilliant mind. Holmes perks up when Lestrade arrives at his doorstep. The case he brings with him, as Holmes nicely deduces, is of a personal nature, his daughter’s running away from home. Analyzing further, Holmes finds out that it is a kidnapping rather than the girl running away.

Wasting no time, Holmes sets out on the trail and analyzing the clues he gets from particular places, sets out to find the missing girl. He learns that the girl is being held for a very deadly secret, and that not only her life but also her classmate’s is in danger, so he has to save more than one life. We see Toby, the dog make an appearance as he helps Holmes on the trail of the girls.

Overall impressions:
Being a die-hard Sherlock fan, this story didn’t quite gel together for me. The idea is good, but perhaps it could have been explored more. Over 50 pages, the novel felt like it was being hurried through just to end it rather than the quick, anxious-to-know-what-will-happen pace of a Sherlock Holmes detective fiction. There is contradiction, with the description telling it’s a 14 year old girl being kidnapped and Lestrade declaring in the novel that his twelve year old has run away. I could find some typo errors, a couple of times even Holmes’ name is misspelled. I can’t quite understand a couple of points: a secret that was kept very well for most of the book is abruptly revealed at the end, when sense would dictate it rather stayed a secret. The second point is the clue that leads to the adventure mystery being solved. It felt too little and too generic. I’d conclude by saying the book would have been better as one part rather than split into two. There is a lot of promise in the story idea, but the short nature of the book sort of fizzled the expectation.


Rated 5/10
Rated 5/10

Book details:
Title: The Adventure of the Missing Girl
Author: Roy Segal
Genre: Mystery / Crime Fiction
Pages: 50 (Approx.)
Parts: 2
Price: $2.99 (P1) + $0.99 (P2)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services

 
 


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.


Also for First Reads challenge at b00k r3vi3ws.

 
 


(February 5th, 2013)

Posted in Books

Book Review: The House of Silk, by Anthony Horowitz

Impressions off the back cover:
This might just be it. A typical Sherlock Holmes novel, yet not written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. How often have we seen the dramatic entrance of a worried client with the charming housekeeper Mrs. Hudson, with the duo of Holmes and Watson in their seats by the fire? The reviews put on the back cover make me intrigued, and I can’t wait to get into this mystery.

My thoughts on the book:
I’m a Sherlock Holmes fan since the day I read The Hound of the Baskervilles. I have the entire collection of short stories and four novels written by Sir Conan Doyle. I had heard about other authors writing stories based on the famed detective, but when my friend did a review (unusual for him to be doing one) on the book The House of Silk, and it said the book to be a must read for any Sherlockian, I ordered a copy immediately. Having seen other covers of the book online, I felt this one was good, but one of the others was infinitely better. Then again, one cannot judge a book by the cover, especially a Sherlock Holmes one.

For any Sherlock fan, perhaps the first question about why this novel was missed out by Watson would be the first question that comes to mind. Anthony Horowitz addresses that question first by a prologue that shows Watson mulling the circumstances why this book wasn’t put to print by him, and why it is being written now. This one touch brings a smile to the reader, and I proceed on.

The difference between conjuring, observing and deduction… and the proper use of the third to solve a mystery; that is what set apart Sherlock Holmes from other detectives in crime fiction. It’s with this very aspect that Horowitz begins the first chapter, a deduction that leaves Dr. Watson speechless as always, and demanding explanation of how Holmes came to know of it. It is this very aspect that is spread throughout the book, with Holmes surprising Watson, and other characters with his delectable deductions.

The story gets its pace from these insights, and flows superbly. The plot revolves around a man in a flat cap, stalking the owner of an art gallery seeking revenge. The narration is excellent, with the English we are used to seeing from Conan Doyle, and very vivid descriptions of the setting, the characters and emotions. The wit of Sir Doyle is also quite efficiently mirrored in the comparison to Detective Lestrade, also a well-known character of the crime fiction series. We encounter the unofficial version of the police force; the gang of street urchins led by Wiggins and their characteristic tromp up the stairs of 221B Baker Street and the complaints of Mrs. Hudson to their presence in her house. I cannot but agree with my friend that their lives have been described brilliantly by Horowitz, and the line “Childhood, after all, is the first precious coin that poverty steals from a child” was one that stood out very well, one page that I earmarked for its excellence.

The story moves seamlessly from character to character, and nothing seems out of place. Even references to well-known old cases of Holmes like A Study in Scarlet and The Red Headed League are snuck in without it seeming out of place. Horowitz even brings in Professor Moriarty to good effect.

The ending to the novel catches me off-guard and I applaud the author for this twist which I never expected, and couldn’t predict in any way before that. We also see two layers to Holmes’ character that perhaps aren’t evident in prior works, but ones that work very well.

Overall impressions:
I agree with my friend that this is a must read for any Sherlock Holmes fan. It is a novel delivered with a crispness and mystery that I associate easily and usually with a novel of the legendary detective and very everything just fits, be it language, description or character sketching. It is in every way quite close to what Conan Doyle might have produced, and it comes as no surprise to me that the Conan Doyle Estate has given this book a stamp of approval. Giving this a perfect ten would mean it is as good as the originals, but I find that one character in particular stood out from the start, and it showed that the character would play a very important part in the story, which is unlike the mystery of characters in Doyle’s plotting. So this is the only glitch I find that differentiates the story by the minutest margin. But still warrants the highest rating I can give for sure.


Rated a perfect 10/10
Rated a perfect 10/10

Book Details:
Title: The House of Silk
Author: Anthony Horowitz
Genre: Crime Fiction
Book ISBN: 9781409136361
Publisher: Hachette India
Price: INR 350

 


The book is a personal copy. The opinions expressed in the review are my own, and remain unbiased and uninfluenced.


(’12, Dec 17)