Monday, May 07, 2012

April Reading … Part 1

I began April reading Sherlock Holmes and Satyajit Ray before picking up a Famous Five story (which I did not read last month) and a novel by yet another Indian Author. Later in the month, I also picked up Dean Koontz and Robert Ludlum; finishing off the month with Sherlock Holmes and Satyajit Ray.  Special thing last month was that I completed the Sherlock Holmes series !!!

New author this month was Suparna Chatterjee. I also picked up The Mysterious Traveler Magazine which had 6 short stories by 6 different lesser known (literally unknown) authors.

The month was extremely satisfactory with plenty of varied reading - 3 full length novels from different genres and my regulars of Three Investigators, Famous Five, Sherlock and Satyajit Ray along with a Magazine of short stories. The exceptionally high count of 25 this month should be seen in the context of the fact that more than two-thirds of the 25 were 'short stories' (6 each from Sherlock Holmes, Satyajit Ray and Mystery Traveler Magazine each).  


With a total reading score of 25 this month, there is a lot to write about; so this month's reading monologue gets split across 3 posts.


1. Sherlock Holmes: The Problem of Thor Bridge by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

One of those rare cases where a crime is committed and Sherlock has to uncover the truth that the crime was not been committed in the first place. Yes, a murder has indeed happened but it is not what it seems to be. An obvious motive, an obvious murderer and obvious clues & evidences … all point to the murderer but Sherlock himself is on a completely different line of investigation.


2. The Two Magicians by Satyajit Ray

Satyajit Ray has used the world of magicians to teach a very simple lesson – Never lose touch with the real thing in your race for instant success and materialistic lifestyle. It is an interesting tale where a Magician returns to his student to teach him an old trick; reminding him to get in touch with the real things in life.   


3. The Famous Five: Five Go To Smugglers by Enid Blyton

I had to pick a Famous Five this month since I missed it last month. This time, adventure does begin in Kirin (a tree falls during a storm and smashes into the roof of the Kirrin cottage) but moves to another place which is a mysterious dangerous hill with an ominous castle. Two more kids join the famous five in the adventure and there are secret pathways and tunnels.

There is a strange repulsive person called Bloke who is 'supposed' to be deaf but the kids have their suspicions. A smuggler lives in a house nearby. The owner of the castle hates dogs … so our Dog has been taken to the castle in hiding and is kept in the underground tunnels to prevent any chance encounter with the owner of the castle; here he is kind of locked out and the kids are unable to rescue him … eventually, it is the Dog who rescues the kids from the tunnels when they are lost in it.  

George's father arrives on the scene and gets 'kidnapped' from his room even before meeting George who is locked up in another room as punishment. More secret paths and tunnels are discovered. This one turned out to be a better 'adventure' than the earlier ones.


4. Ashamanja Babu's Dog by Satyajit Ray

This story had a most unexpected climax. It almost seemed to end too suddenly and you have to sit back and think about it to realize that the last 2 paragraphs contain the essence of the story while the rest is just a background and a build up to the teaching. 


5. The All Bengali Crime Detectives by Suparna Chatterjee

Retirement brings about a change in life. A high court Judge retires and is faced with the dilemma of the new life. He joins the existing group of retired oldies in his area. These 'retired' gentlemen become the central characters (detectives) of the story as a theft takes place 'right under their nose'. And curiously their names begin with A, B, C and D … which coincides with the title of the novel ABCD - All Bengali Crime Detectives. 

It was nice to read this story by a Bengali Author … the novel has significant touches of the Bengali culture and lifestyle and on quite a many occasions, the story digresses to talk about Bengali culture. You not only read a story but also experience the nuances of typical Bengali life.

There is also a parallel story going on in the background of Durga Pooja celebrations and a quant love story (more of a one-sided fling actually). If these were to be removed from the novel; the novel would become a short story of probably 20-30 pages with very little detective stuff in there.   

Although the plot was not very interesting or story that gripping as should be in a detective story … the novel was an enjoyable read from the 'knowing Bengali culture' point of view. And yes … the most hilarious words in the book were about a sign outside a barber's shop "Come here for the Best Hair Cut and Die". Don't pick this up if you want to read a story of crime and detection/deductions etc. This one won't satisfy you. Pick it up if you want an insight into the world of Bengalis.


6. Sherlock Holmes: The Adventure of the Lion's Mane by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

A professor dies on the beach side with 'the lion's mane' as his last words. There is no sign of any other person (or an animal) being around but there are some suspects. Finally there is another attack and Sherlock 'kills' the culprit himself using a heavy boulder.     


7. Patol Babu, Film Star by Satyajit Ray

This became the 3rd consecutive story in the book with a nice lesson for readers. It about what we value in life. It's about life and its experiences and how sometimes these are priceless and no value can be attributed to them. It's about giving your best to even the smallest of tasks in your life.   


8. The Three Investigators & the Mystery of the Blazing Cliff by M V Carrey

A castle in a large estate which boasts of being self sufficient in all respects of food, fuel and supplies with a cranky master and a weird mistress who believes in alien invasion and end-of-the-world theories. Add to this the fact that a UFO is sighted in the estate while the 3 investigators are 'trapped' in this estate; and you have a strange adventure brewing up.


9. Sherlock Holmes: The Adventure of the Creeping Man by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

This one was a strange case where a respected Professor is showing strange behavior; to the extent of showing signs of animalistic behavior (crawling / climbing). Sherlock discovers the root cause of the behavior which seems a pretty strange case for the average Sherlock Holmes reader who is not used to such a weird bend of storyline.


To be continued ...

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