Tuesday, March 06, 2012

February Reading …


February began with a much awaited Matthew Reilly followed by a new author with her debut novel. It was an awesome start of the month on reading front as well as a nice long weekend with cousins in Mahabaleshwar.

After these two reads, I was back to my regulars and also picked up another new author (for me) … Patricia Cornwell. That makes it 3 full length novels (all three of different genres) and my regulars of 3I, Sherlock and Famous Five along with new addition of Satyajit Ray! BTW ... one-third of my Feb reading (5 out of 15) is from the Sherlock Holmes collections.

Satisfactory reading score - A nice month !


1. Scarecrow and the Army of Thieves by Matthew Reilly

Finally … I got my hands on the latest Matthew Reilly novel. Aptly titled 'The Army of Thieves'; this is yet another Scarecrow / Schofield adventure. It turned out to be as expected … full of high octane over-the-top action with a whole lot of twists and turns in the plot.

I have already posted my review of this one separately in an earlier post in February.

Suffice to say that although this was not one of MR's best but it was a fantastic read nevertheless. Anybody interested in 'reading' a detailed screenplay/script of a Hollywood action thriller can pick this up !!


2. Sherlock Holmes: The Adventure of the Devil's Foot by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Sherlock and Watson are on a kind of vacation when a strange case comes up. 3 men and a women are playing cards at the table one evening, one of them leaves only to come back in the morning to find the girl dead and the remaining two guys gone completely MAD … in almost the same state he left them; with the cards still lying on the table. The dead girl has a horrified expression on her face.

The survivor dies in a similar horrible fashion a few days later baffling everyone but Sherlock. 

Sherlock keeps his investigation to himself, identifying the killer(s) and even letting him go. Sherlock has done this in several cases where he felt justice was imparted through the murders.


3. The Reluctant Detective by Kiran Manral

Well … Managed to get another book for review from

This one was a nice interesting one with a housewife turning into a detective (SO this one was yet another detective stuff kind of read along with my regulars Sherlock and 3I). I enjoyed reading the writing style of Kiran Manral.

It will suffice here that it was a good read; since I have already posted a detailed review of this book separately in February as per the requirement from Blog Adda


4. Sherlock Holmes: The Last Bow by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Not much to write about this one. It was not really a case for applying Sherlock style deductions. It's more of a record of a certain long term engagement which Sherlock got involved in as a service to the country. Not a very interesting read.

The only interesting thing about this story is that this was probably the singular Sherlock episode written in third person. It was not narrated by Watson.


5. The Three Investigators & the Mystery of the Sinister Scarecrow by M V Carrey

Imagine the horrors if you have attacking scary scarecrow, dangerous ants which eat anything living that come in their way, a set of suspects who seem to come clean on initial assessments and investigation but later turn out to be not only suspicious but also end up being the 'villains' !! A singular story with many suspects who end up all being guilty of various crimes …


6. Pikoo's Diary by Satyajit Ray

I started reading the 'Best of Satyajit Ray' this month … a collection of the best of the short stories by Satyajit Ray. I read the entire Feluda series last year and this year too, I continue to read Satyajit Ray as one of my regular authors.

The first story I read was actually the last one in the book. I read about that story being a different kind in the intro to the book and decided to read it first. It was an interesting attempt at story writing. "Pikoo's Diary" was a child writing in his/her diary. It had been written in the childish manner a child would write and it had but a recording of what the child saw without really understanding its meaning.

It talks about turbulent times, adult affairs and possibly a death … all without knowing that it is doing so. It was definitely an interesting read and gives you a perspective of how children are impressionable and how they perceive things in a different manner than us.


7. The Three Investigators & the Secret of the Shark Reef by William Arden

This one was filled up to the brim in adventure. Storming Seas, Stolen fuel from the boat, sabotage, Oil Rigs, oil protests, sharks, shark hunter sub, World War II submarine, a possible treasure, mud-slides, a host of suspects and normally crowded freeway which is completely barren and empty. And … I might even have missed a few.

A nice tale of adventure and danger out there in the sea with Bob and Pete playing significant roles and saving the day; while Jupe figures out his deductions and identifies the innocent culprits from the non-innocent ones.


8. Body of Evidence by Patricia Cornwell

Well … This was my first Patricia Cornwell novel. I started reading it during my Mumbai-Dubai Trip and as usual Kingfisher airlines helped; Not only with bad in-flight entertainment system but with a 2-3 hour delay of the flight.

It was an interesting read; slow at times but interesting nevertheless. A recluse author is murdered (after receiving threats for several months) and the chief medical officer's 'ex' turns up to talk to her (they haven't talked for over a decade) and then another murder and then another death and then another suicide. Things begin to get complicated and our medical officer gets entangled … to the extent that she becomes the 'next target' of the psycho killer.

I found the book slow at times. Having read books with a much faster pace has probably done that to me. A slow book often makes it a boring for me and I am unable to enjoy it.


9. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (In the memory of 200th Anniversary of Charles)

Charles Dickens' 200th Anniversary Google doodle on Feb 7th inspired me to read one of his works. Last I read a CD work was during my school days. I picked up 'A Christmas Carol' to read and decided to watch the animated movie too.

The book was a refreshing read. When you read a story written for children; you suddenly realize how fun it can be to read that stuff. You enjoy reading adult fiction but children fiction is pure fun! The story was simple … with a pretty straightforward 'moral of the story' … but it was beautifully brought out in the story.

One peculiar thing is that there were times when I found it difficult to read the long winding sentences with countless adjectives stuffed in a single long long long sentence. The book is extremely descriptive which is a good thing but there were times when I couldn't handle it and simply rushed through the sentence skipping the tones of adjectives in rapid fire.

The movie has been long pending for me to see. It has been lying with me for long (and unfortunately I had missed it when it hit the theatres). I felt the movie was an amazingly beautiful rendering of the story. Many movies don't really match up their books … some do. This one was one of them. This one is excellent.


10. The Hungry Septopus by Satyajit Ray

This one is an interesting story which involves a man who is interested in strange carnivorous plants. He visits an old acquaintance and requests him to visit his 'farm'. The request comes with an additional request though. He needs to carry his GUN.

A bit of suspense, a bit of a thrill and then some really scary stuff happens … but then alls well that ends well.  


11. The Famous Five: Five Run Away Together by Enid Blyton

I picked up another Famous Five for this month. The five are brought together again in an adventure where their Aunt falls sick and uncle has to be with her in the hospital; leaving in the 'care' of a new lady with a repulsive kid and an equally repulsive dog. The kids hate these new members but got to live under their care.

Georgina ... oops … George rebels (as she usually does) and the eldest kid Julian also stands up to the tyranny of the lady threatening them J What is the secret they hold is to be uncovered with the story.


12. Sherlock Holmes: The Illustrious Client by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

This was not a story about detection but about a fierce and violent but smooth high profile adversary who causes Sherlock bodily harm by getting him beaten up by smartly dressed suit clad goons. Sherlock even uses this beating to his advantage. The case is not about a crime that has been committed BUT about preventing one from happening. There is not much deduction to be done but a daring task to be performed. This was yet another instance where Sherlock indulges in an unlawful activity of 'burglary'.  


13. Ratan Babu and That Man by Satyajit Ray

A man loves to travel. He goes to places where most 'tourists' don't go. He goes to off-beat places and gets interested in strange things which other people find mundane. It's difficult for such a person to find another person who can share his interest and give him company on his travels. So our protagonist travels alone.

In one such travel, he meets another man; someone who is like him.

No ... wait a minute … He is so like him that he feels he is talking and looking at himself


14. Sherlock Holmes: The Adventure of the Blanched Soldier by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Closing the month with Sherlock Holmes Stories that I read in Mumbai local trains

The Adventure of the Blanched Soldier is unique from the point of view that it is narrated by Holmes rather than Watson. This itself gives a very different style of narration.

This story is about deductions. Sherlock Holmes is given a set of circumstances and he zeroes in on 2-3 possibilities out of which he begins eliminating the options which had any sort of objection or any theory that could not accommodate and explain or account for the facts available. This approach takes Sherlock to the a single conclusion and he solves the mystery and goes at step further in resolving the root cause of the problem – that is the disappearance of a soldier who hasn't disappeared but is being willingly help in captivity.


15. Sherlock Holmes: The Adventure of the Blanched Soldier by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

The Adventure of the Mazarin Stone is a refreshingly nice story from the Sherlock Holmes collection which focuses on how Sherlock Holmes uses his disguise to his advantage. He disguises himself as  an old man, an old woman and finally … as himself. Now, if you are wondering how on earth a man can disguise as HIMSELF … you gotta read this story.

 This story also highlights the humorous side of Sherlock where he plays a joke on an aristocrat; who is neither impressed by Sherlock nor has any faith in his abilities.


The highlight of the month is of course the latest Matthew Reilly that I read; and the beginning of the 'Best of Satyajit Ray' series.

I read 3 new authors in this month … Kiran Manral and Patricia Cornwell to begin with. I also read a Charles Dickens which I can slot in as yet another new author since I haven't read a Charles Dickens for maybe 2 decades (I probably read some of his work during school days).

March also looks promising by what I have lined up for myself. More new authors, Indian as well as International. Exciting adventure reads as well as light reads. The month begins with a new author's book review.


Series Completion Score: (as of 29th Feb 2012)

Three Investigators     30 out of 63

Sherlock Holmes         51 out of 60

Famous Five                03 out of 21

Best of Satyajit Ray     03 out of 21

Total                           87 out of 165



  1. I am sure you are enjoying the Sherlock Holmes stories and novels.

    My favorite novel is "The Valley of Fear" and short story is "The Silver Blaze". I also recommend the pastiche "The House of Silk" by Anthony Horowitz.


  2. @buddy2blogger

    I am more a fan of the shorts. My fav in long will always be the Hound :)

    I have the House of Silk. Will take it up only after completing all the originals.

    Most probably, i would be reading House of Silk in 2-3 months time.

  3. A very exhaustive reading list! :)
    Keep it up! :)