Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Books I read in January …

1. The Three Investigators & the Mystery of the Green Ghost by Robert Arthur
I began the year 2011 with a 'Three Investigators' (3I) novella. This one begins literally with a Ghost, in fact, a screaming Ghost which travels from one place to another managing to be seen by many and getting to front page news. Ghost leads to discovery of a rare pearl necklace (seemingly named Ghost Pearls) which are stolen and found.
A 107 year old Chinese noble appears in the scheme of things who seems to hold the theory (and practice) of dissolving those kind of pearls and drinking them up … to prolong his life. According to him, each pearl gives him 3 months of life. He is after the pearls and (understandably) will go at great lengths and to any extent to get them. Things begin to transform from mysterious to dangerous.
The story ends with the mystery solved and the ghost pearls destroyed (turned to dust) in an unfortunate accident. Yet another enjoyable read.

2. Feluda: Danger in Darjeeling by Satyajit Ray
I was introduced to Feluda in 2008 by my best friend and I became an instant fan. I read a couple of this series before I traveled to Dubai and the reading on Feluda stopped. This time around, I have brought along the entire collection of Feluda with me to Dubai for reading. These two large fat books that are going to be a significant part of my 2011 reading along with the Sherlock Holmes and Three Investigators series
The first of Feluda stories I read was 'Danger in Dargeeling'.
The story did not really prove Feluda's mettle since he found the culprit after he was gone and that too he had no clue to the motive. The culprit left the scene and the city and then sent a letter to justify his actions and also the motive.  I am looking forward to the next one.

3. Sherlock Holmes: A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
The study in scarlet introduces Watson and Sherlock Holmes; how they meet and how Watson discovers the eccentricities of Sherlock. This first SH novel was written in a very weird manner.
The slightly complex language and style of writing made it a slow read.
A crime is committed and SH solves it. He even catches the murderer in the comfort of his home. The story suddenly takes a break and moves back in time and begins a parallel story in a different era, a different timeline. This parallel story intends to bring perspective to the motive behind the murder.
The novel ends with the murderer revealing how he did it and in the last chapter Watson describes how Holmes described his deductions and chain of logic to catch the murderer. This one was not one of my favorites. And surprisingly, I have no recollections of any part of the story. Its as if I have never read it earlier.  

4. The Three Investigators & the Mystery of the Vanishing Treasure by Robert Arthur
This one was better than the first one. An interesting story with 2 stories which are seemingly separate but have some common threads that tie them in conclusion. The trio gets involved in a seemingly mysterious case which leads to bigger things and also helps them solve a case where they were not allowed to assist.  

5. Sherlock Holmes: The Sign of Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
The second novel in the Sherlock Holmes collection was another novel titled 'The Sign of Four'. Even this had the main story and a historical one attached to explain the motive. It had an interesting side story though, with Watson getting emotional, romance overpowering his emotions and then finally he getting married.

6. Feluda: The Emperor's Ring  by Satyajit Ray
This one was better than the first one. It involved an invaluable ring which is at the centre of the crime story. The cast of the story includes various characters supported and several strange animals :) who belong to a personal zoo.
An interesting storyline
This one was definitely better than the first one which had a rather disappointing climax. 

7. Sherlock Holmes: A Scandal in Bohemia by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
A very simple case where Sherlock does not really bring the whole affair to an expected conclusion but which is remarkable since he encounters a lady who matches his wits and outwits him so completely that Sherlock can only admire her and respect her

8. Sherlock Holmes: The Red Headed League by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Déjà vu
This story was something that I clearly remembered from my school days. I remembered the entire chain of events. It was interesting to read the Conan version.

Addendum - Forgot to add this last one read on the last day of the month
9. Sherlock Holmes: A Case of Identity by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

This was a pretty story where I was able to predict the climax; of course, not because of deductions but by sheer intuition which may be a result of some faint memory from childhood or maybe from sheer luck.

The more I read, the more I realize that I loved Sherlock so much because of his sheer 'almost magical' powers of deduction. Watson was used to further contrast this. Sherlock and Watson often saw and heard the same things; while Watson was able to deduce very little from the observations; Sherlock seemed to draw out the entire 'janam kundali' of the subject at hand. 
It was a curious coincidence that there was a Bank robbery in two of the stories that I read this month and both shared the modus operandi. There was a tunnel being dug from one place top another in both stories, 'Sherlock Holmes - The Red Headed League' and '3I – The Vanishing Treasure'. Both had the tunnel diggers drawing attention away from the digging by using strange methods / distractions.
Completion Score:  
Three Investigators     6 out of 35
Feluda                         2 out of 35
Sherlock Holmes         5 out of 56
Total                           13 out of 126

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