Saturday, January 07, 2012

December Reading - Part 1

The month of December began with a 'false start' but then I got back to the regulars and the going was smooth. The end was absolutely amazing with fabulous (much awaited) books being read and closing the month and the year with my favorite.

There was a lot of travel actually. I spent practically only one week in Mumbai and the rest of the month in Dubai. Dubai gives me a lot of opportunities to read and hence this month has a pretty splendid reading score of 27. (This is the reason this post will be in 2 parts, since I will be writing about each of the 27 stories I read)

Key achievement being the completion of Feluda volume after a dry spell of couple of months and 2 very green months of Nov and Dec … practically read the whole volume in less than 30 days.


1. The Deck by Catherine Jinks

The intro read … "Meet Roanna Hagelburgh. Her husband is never at home. Her two younger children are always fighting. Her next-door neighbour is a thorn in her side. Will a new deck really solve all her problems?"

I have read the Genius Trilogy by Catherine in past 3 months and thought of picking up something else that she had written. The last sentence in the intro above (the question) sounded interesting and hence this story got picked up this month.

BUT it turned out to be a sad experience. The story did not move forward for most part of the PDF file I was reading and then suddenly the PDF came to an end without the story reaching any conclusion.

Conclusion: I had a partial PDF. It did not have the entire novel. Just a part of it

What a cruel waste of my time.

I am not making any attempts to find the full version. Was bored of whatever I read.


2. Feluda: Murder in the Mountains by Satyajit Ray

Crime follows Feluda in the most scenic and beautiful of all places. Jatayu's novel is being made into a movie and the shooting is in Darjeeling. He also (by a turn of events and a missing actor) gets to act in this film. The indoor shooting is being carried out in the mansion of a gentleman who is a singularly interesting character who maintains a scrap book of crime reports.

He gets murdered and the shooting comes to a halt. Feluda obviously gets involved and is also attacked (literally thrown off a mountain road into the valley).

Beside the usual crime and dentition stuff, Satyajit Ray talks about the place and the beauty of the mountains. He gets the reader interested in places (be it Rajasthan or Banaras or Haridwar or Darjeeling). Tourism department should promote Feluda amongst the youngsters of today. They would surely be inspired to visit these and many other places of India.


3. Sherlock Holmes: The Adventure of the Missing Three-Quarter by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

A sports player goes missing just before the day of an important game and Sherlock is asked to trace him. No crime here. Just a lost boy needs to be found.


4. Feluda: Peril in Paradise by Satyajit Ray

There is only one Paradise on Earth and that is Kashmir. Feluda's leisure trip again becomes a business trip and for a change he is attacked even before there is a case or a crime.

Surprisingly, although the 'case' is solved, murderer discovered and caught … Feluda could not really pick out who attacked him (till the end. So the case is partially unsolved).


5. The Three Investigators & the Mystery of the Dead Man Riddle by William Arden

A man dies and leaves his 'will' behind which announces that his inheritance will belong to anyone who finds it !!! He has left behind a riddle to be solved to reach the 'treasure'

The three investigators get involved and it is a continuous joy ride. For a change, they have another kid in the story who seems to be actually smarter than the 3 investigators and also there are a lot of occasions when competing parties crack the riddle and reach the spot BEFORE the three investigators do it. They are either catching up or applying a bit of an extra thinking. For a change, they were normal kids rather than investigative super heroes. 


6. Sherlock Holmes: The Adventure of the Abbey Grange by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

A man dies and his wife is found tied to a chair next to him. She reports that 3 men had come with the intent of robbery and done the damage. A simple enough straight forward case

BUT Sherlock finds some clues which point towards an entirely different story. He digs deeper and reaches the murderer. Listens to his story and then decides to let him go scott free.

This story again shows the remarkable deductions and powers of observation of Sherlock


7. Feluda: Shakuntala's Necklace by Satyajit Ray

A necklace is stolen and the thief needs to be caught. People other than the thief get exposed in the climax and the thief turns out to be the most unexpected of all characters; someone above (or should I say below) all suspicions.


8. Sherlock Holmes: The Adventure of the Second Stain by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

An interesting story where Sherlock traces a stolen document (of national interest) and even gets it back diplomatically without bringing the thief to the limelight. It's a sensitive political document and the matter is extremely sensitive.


9. Feluda: Feluda in London by Satyajit Ray

A gentleman in his 50's approaches Feluda with a photograph from his youth. He wants feluda to find out who his companion is in the photograph since he himself cannot remember anything from 3-5 years of his youth since he has suffered a memory loss bcos of an accident. His parents are also no longer alive to tell him.

He had found this photo pretty recently and was curious to find out about the boy in the photo. He had studied in London for some time and hence the queries lead Feluda and his companions to London. Feluda manages to not only find out about boy but also uncovers the real story behind the boy's death 30 years ago.

Once again, you enjoy not only the story but also a new place. Along the story, Feluda describes London and takes you on tour of London describing the city and its people.

The highlight of the story (not the plot) is Feluda's visit to the famed dummy address of Master Sleuth and World's most famous Detective … Sherlock Holmes ! Feluda visits Baker Street and stands before the non-existent House No. 221 and refers to Holmes as his GURU (teacher, guide, mentor) and even asks for his blessings so that his trip to London on a 'cold' case is not wasted !


10. Feluda: The Mystery of the Pink Pearl by Satyajit Ray

A rare pink pearl is at the centre of this story and like the paintings in the other story; there are fake copies of the same. Jatayu plays an important role in the story and saves the day !


11. The Three Investigators & the Mystery of the Invisible Dog by M V Carrey

This one was a very very interesting story where several different seemingly unconnected incidents begin to occur in a neighborhood and the three investigators have to grapple with the multiple threads and threats to several lives around them.

What adds to the complexity is that in a bid to mislead the kids, the culprit creates a situation where he himself is seen as one of the victims. Filtering the culprit from amongst the 'real' victims does indeed add to the challenge.

And of course, adding the mystery to the story is the presence of ghosts & spirits who are seen and who seem to be disturbing things. A ghost is seemingly seen by one of the 3 boys.

Last but not the least, there is indeed some unexplained supernatural element to the story.


12. Feluda: Dr. Munshi Diary by Satyajit Ray

What happens when a psychiatrist decides to write an autobiography? Nothing special … ?

Consider the fact that some people who have committed a crime go through guilt pangs which often results in depression and need for psychiatric help wherein they share their 'secrets' with the Psychiatrist !! Now does that make the autobiography interesting ??

Consider now that the Psychiatrist himself is guilty of something ??? More interesting ?

And then add to the fact that some members of his own family might have reasons to 'prevent' the publication of the autobiography ….. Guess I have your attention now J

Well … let me say no more … go ahead and read this one yourself J

And yes … Jatayu again steals the thunder from Feluda at the climax of the story !


13. Feluda: The Mystery of Nayan by Satyajit Ray

A boy who can see numbers in his mind … ask him any question to which the answer is a number and voila … you have got it.

Be it bank account numbers or the amount of money in the safe OR the combination code for the safe itself … or the number of the winning horse at the race course and so on … You must have got the gist of the 'criminal' uses for such a talent by now.

That is why when the 'powers' of such a boy get publicized, Feluda gets himself involved voluntarily to protect the boy from all those anti-social elements.

But then evil is not really obvious. A bit of evil is there even in those who are seemingly good.


14. The Three Investigators & the Mystery of the Death Trap Mine by M V Carrey

An over enthusiastic girl who wants to prove to the boys that she is also a good detective.

A new owner of a dead mine (and the girl dislikes him … so suspects him).

A dead body found in the mine … by the girl and the trio together.

Things begin to connect and they begin to connect to events 5 years ago when the entry to the mine was sealed.

The trio and the girl have to trace the movements of the dead guy who was probably involved in a robbery along with 2 other guys and a gal. For a change, the story had no 'spookiness' in it.


15. Feluda: Robertson's Ruby by Satyajit Ray

A precious Ruby is at the centre of the story which the current 'owner' wants to handover to a museum in India but there are those who wish to buy it (or get otherwise) and add to their personal collection. Feluda considers the Ruby a national heritage and voluntarily gets involved to protect it from the elements.

On the other hand ... This was an interesting story where a theft is committed but the intention is not to steal but to teach a lesson. Everyone is surprised that the case is solved by the Police and NOT by Feluda but Feluda has the feeling that something somewhere is wrong and things just don't fall into place. HE cracks the case eventually thought he allows the real 'culprit' to go scot free since he himself agrees to his actions and intentions !

I have read a couple of Sherlock stories too where Sherlock eventually decides to let the 'culprit' go since he pacifies with them and understands their actions and even agrees to them.   


16. Feluda: The Magical Mystery by Satyajit Ray

There is magic in this story … and magicians too. (Although magicians were there in Nayan's story too but they were not in focus but more of supporting cast).

A young magician and an old one (who is writing a book on Magic which the young magician wants to buy)

The old magician is murdered almost immediately after the arrival of the young magician and there is (once again) no dearth of suspects. Anyone could have done it. All have Motives.


…. End of Part 1 …. (the best is yet to come)

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