Monday, August 06, 2012

July Reading – Part 3

Continued from previous post …


20. The Holcraft Covenant by Robert Ludlum

The story has its background in the 1940's around the Nazis and then immediately fast forwards by 30 years to 1970's where the son of one of the 3 Nazi guys is given a huge responsibility of compensating the children of several of those who suffered due to Nazi actions a generation ago. And immediately Holcroft finds himself shadowed and followed by people who want to kill him as well as those who want to protect him. This part sounds like the Mayan Resurrection intro :) which I read at the beginning of the month.

Not just himself; he needs to execute the task given to him with the mandatory help of 2 other persons whom he has to trace and find and then convince to join in the mission. There are too many different parties involved and it is never clear to our hero (and us), who are the protectors and who are the killers. The perception keeps changing as story progresses. There were times when I was thoroughly confused about who's who in the story and who is good / bad / neutral and what their motives were. The protagonist as well as the reader is discovering different shades and intentions of different characters and parties involved in the complex web of the story. There seem to be too many conspiracies around.

As usual, Ludlum brings in a complex interplay of characters where you keep guessing and are positively surprised by not only the twists and turns of the story but also by the behavior and action of the characters. Written in true Ludlum style, the story keeps you on the edge wondering 'what next'. The climax is absolutely unpredictable. The Swiss connection is ever present in Ludlum novels and its nostalgic for me since I read my first Ludlum novel in Switzerland J


21. Sherlock Misadventures: The Adventure of the Table Foot by Zero (Allan Ramsay}

Yet another extremely short one where the detective solves a mystery in the matter of a few seconds and gives an instant solution to a confused puzzled young man whose father had proposed to a much older woman for her wealth. Interesting trivia: the Detective's name is  Thinlock Bones and narrator is called Whatsoname (a corruption of the names Sherlock Holmes and Watson)


22. The Golden Man by Philip K Dick


We have a memory, enabling us to see the present and recall (see in mind's eye) events of the past while the future is a blank slate … only guesses. Imagine this being reversed, if the past became a blank slate and you could see the future (and it numerous possibilities). The future will pose no surprises. Such is the ability of a human mutant which is discovered by the agency which is hunting down mutants who pose a threat to humanity. The being might not have survived these hunters, but he found use of another natural ability of his. The climax is about this ability while the story is about humanities perception and point of view of differently able'd beings/people/mutants which are referred to as homo-peculiar instead of homo-superior.

And yes, the movie (Nicholas Cage starrer NEXT) hardly had any co-relation to the story; except the common sci-fi concept of ESP / peeping into future and viewing events accurately.


23. Sherlock Misadventures: The Sign of the "400" by R. K. Munkittrick

This story retains the names Sherlock Holmes and Watson but makes a mockery of Sherlock's power. Jewels are stolen from a house and Sherlock is called in to investigate. By observing the clues (which include the cigar smoke, footprints, etc), Sherlock declared the name of an esteemed gentleman as the thief.

Athelney Jones, the inspector, then ignores Sherlock's work (and his supreme deductive reasoning) and goes ahead and catches another man and puts him behind bars for this crime on 'flimsy evidence'


24. Bhuto by Satyajit Ray

I was never quite sure of what the title meant. I was oscillating between Bhuto being a name as in 'Benazir Butto' or being related to spiritual/ghostly being as in 'Bhoot' … it turned out to be latter. The term Bhuto was Bengali variation of a proper name 'Bhutnath / Bhootnath' and NO the Bhuto in question is not a ghost but a puppet used by a ventriloquist.

A person gets enamored by ventriloquism after watching a performance and approaches the ventriloquist to learn from him; only to be refused and turned down harshly. In anger, the person decides to learn it on his own. He learns and gets a puppet made which closely resembles the ventriloquist who refused to teach him. It was his way of getting back at him. Our insulted man visits him and tells him about his displeasure and also about his skills as magic besides ventriloquism. The story beyond that point turns a bit scary and supernatural as Bhuto (the puppet) begins to gradually affect his master and haunt him.    


25. Sherlock Misadventures: Our Mr. Smith by Oswald Crawjurd

It is an instance of Detective Purlock Hone's deductions gone terribly wrong, narrated by Jobson. Just imagine: Purlock Hone's going wrong with his deductions … and there isn't even a case.  


26. King of the Elves by Philip K Dick


An old man who owns a petrol/gas filling station on a highway which is no longer frequented encounters strange guests one rainy night. The sick King of Elves along with his elves arrives at his doorsteps seeking refuge. The dying king tells his elves to make the old man their king … having faith that he would be able to defend the elves against the terror of the huge trolls.

Our man takes up his new responsibility and eventually manages to kill the king of trolls (who turns out to be his friend). He then embraces change.


27. Sherlock Misadventures: The Footprints on the Ceiling by Jules Castier

"The Footprints on the Ceiling" is a double-barreled burlesque* of Doyle. It parodies not only Dr. Watson and Sherlock Holmes, but that other great Doyle character, Professor Challenger, as well; and it concerns a disappearance so strange, so unique, that it can be described only as "out of this world." (Detective: Purlock Hone and Narrator: Jobson)

The story has a third person as a narrator who is approached by Watson with a request for introduction to Dr. Challenger; only to be revealed later that Dr. Challenger has disappeared. Sherlock solves the mystery and deduces the time travel undertaken by the Dr.

Now that I know of this Dr. Challenger character, I will dig up his stories and read them as part of my 'non-Sherlock Canon' reading.


* Trivia: Burlesque is a literary, dramatic or musical work intended to cause laughter by caricaturing the manner or spirit of serious works, or by ludicrous treatment of their subjects. The word derives from the Italian burlesco, which itself derives from the Italian burla – a joke, ridicule or mockery. The short stories that I am reading in 'The Misadventures of Sherlock Holmes' are essentially burlesque in nature and mock the great detective in different ways


To Be Continued …


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