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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Book Review: Salvation of a Saint by Keigo Higashino

Book: Salvation of a Saint

Author: Keigo Higashino

No. of Pages: 384

Genre: Fiction, Suspense Thriller,  

Publisher: Little Brown Book Group

'The Devotion of Suspect X' was an absolute delight to read last year and recently I realized that there was another suspense thriller by the same author. I had this book added in my 'wish-lists' for my next round of book buying spree. Incidentally, it came up for review on BlogAdda and I applied (giving me a chance to bring it on priority in reading order)

 Devotion was about a murder where you know the murder and how it happened … the whole novel is about the cover-up; and the climax leaves you speechless and you are dumbstruck with the 'devotion' of the man covering up the crime.

Salvation introduces the murderer in the first chapter and the murder happens in chapter two, also revealing that the death/murder was caused by poisoning. And if you are reading Keigo for the first time, you are wondering what kind of a murder mystery has the murder threadbare in first 2 chapters.

BUT that is just the beginning of a mind-boggling quest to determine how the poison was administered. The primary suspect was far away in the mountains with parents and a friend with a water-tight alibi that checks out. So how could she administer the poison 'accurately' to the victim without anyone else around him falling victim to the same poison and with no chance of suspicion on herself.

Salvation is about the HOW of the murder and finally in the climax, when the HOW is revealed. You are once again dumbstruck and speechless … this time with the patience of the murderer. The murder is committed in such a fantastic but simple manner that makes you wonder at the sheer genius of the murderer. Along with the HOW, even the WHY is revealed and it strikes you like a lightning bolt.

Even Detective Galileo who finally cracks the case is spellbound and proclaims this as a perfect murder where the murderer did nothing (and I mean, did literally nothing) to murder the victim. So how do you pin the murder on the suspect who has done nothing?? As I said … perfect murder

And there lies the paradox of the plot. Even Yukawa, being a physicist who helps the police solve crimes, finds it difficult to help the police this time around as (he explains) that he cannot help them without telling them too much and that would colour their judgment and they would not be able to see things clearly. To help them, he has to lead them blind which the police (Kusanagi as well his assistant) find it difficult to digest or abide by … although they do reluctantly agree to follow Yukawa's directions due to lack of any other path to follow. Contradictions and Dilemmas and Paradoxes are an inseparable spice of this dish which has been cooked over a low flame over a longer period of time. It's like a Biryani !!

Inspector Kusanagi has company of a young recruit who is smart and sharp. She not only catches on the clues and makes her deductions but she also realizes the soft corner that Kusanagi seems to be have developed for the beautiful and enigmatic suspect. When she realizes this, she decides to involve Detective Galileo into the loop.

The essence of the novel is the different characters and how the mystery of the poisoning process keeps them all engaged. The author engages you in a narration which has a steady pace but does not leave you out of its grip. The simple narration binds you and makes it difficult for you to put down the book, compelling you to read 'just a few more pages'. I finished it off in 3 working days flat, reading only during my daily commute time (a plane journey of 2 hours definitely helped).
Definitely a fantastic read - I would recomend this to anyonw who enjoys mystery and has the patience to have hundreds of questions running around in the head while reading a novel.
This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program  for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!
Thanks to BlogAdda for introducing me to the novel of Keigo and giving me a copy to read and review.
<< I also received another book to review just before i received Salvation ... but the temptation of reading a Keigo novel was so tough to resist that I wrote to BlogAdda team, telling them that I was interchanging the review order. Good Guys out there ... they agreed :) >>
 

Friday, April 26, 2013

GM Diet Cut Short-er


Just a few days ago I posted that I am trying a 5 day GM diet … a shorter version of the 7 day diet plan. And now I have to report that it was cut short-er by another 2 days due to preponement of my trip to Lucknow.
So now my GM diet survived only 3 days … so I will not be counting this one as an attempt. Will try to go on the diet after I return to Mumbai and have a 2 week period of home-stay. Hopefully mid-May would be a good time for another attempt at GM Diet

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Yet another attempt …

Well, last month I wrote about my plans to take up the week long GM diet as and when possible, at least once in 2 months, with a target of shedding about 10 kg in the next one year.

During my last atempt at GM Diet at the end of February, I shed some 3 kgs and subsequently gained a Kg ... a net loss of 2 KG helping me get the weighing machine pointer to move from 92 to 90 ...  
I am giving it another shot this week. I will not be able to complete the 7 day plan this time since I am travelling to Lucknow this weekend, so I will just follow the diet for 5 days and then move on to Lucknow food for a week.

Lets see what difference does this 5-day GM diet make to my weighing scale pointer position ....

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Book Review: The Rozabal Line by Ashwin Sanghi

Book: The Rozabal Line

Author: Ashwin Sanghi

No. of Pages: 346

Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Thriller

Publisher: Publishing

For me, The Rozabal Line was a jumbo combo of pleasant-and-not-so-pleasant surprise after the disappointment called 'The Krishna Key'. I had ordered The Rozabal Line and Chankaya Chant almost a year ago but somehow never picked them up to read. The Krishna Key came up for review and I read it, only to be disappointed by it … further delaying my reading of the 2 novels which I had already purchased. A reminder by my best friend made me read it. She wanted Rozabal so I thought let me read and give it to her and I am glad I did. Note: I said 'glad' not 'happy'.

It is not an easy book to read. It does not have a simple plot which can be explained to somebody without confusing them OR without giving them a feeling that this novel is a khichdi or a hotchpotch of several formulae for successful best-selling chartbuster novels.

This novel has several elements; let me recount a few:

·        The story spans across continents barring the Antarctic and Arctic …

·        The story spans across a huge timeline … from present day to timelines Before Christ …

·        The story brings together and rather connects Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam …

·        Story has several Terrorists (including the world famous one) so we have quite a bit of terrorism

·        End of the World Scenario – Mayan Calendar Doomsday – 21st Dec 2012

·        Past Life Regression and lives of several characters tangled with each other across several lives spanning the length of the timeline mentioned above

·        A beautiful and very efficient female assassin – fem fatale – kills many and then, unbelievably, emerges on the 'right' side … justifying her acts.

·        Symbology – some interesting, some plain simple stupid – almost as if you are hell bent on connecting things and symbols. Calling the Hindu Swastika an opened-up form of the David's Six Pointed Star and imagining Krishna being similar to Christ'na and many more such 'connections and relationships'

·        Riddles and Poems to be cracked for the code … quite meaningless at times.  

·        Usual Suspects: Illuminati, Opus Dei, and some new names of the same league

·        The POTUS (President of the US) and the Indian Prime Minister

·        Intelligence Agencies from US, Russia, India, Pakistan …

·        Trinity Overload – Father, Son and Holy Ghost; Brahma Vishnu Mahesh; Laxmi Saraswati Kali …

·        Several hundred characters (literally). The story spanning continents and timelines helps to assemble a cast of characters which keep hopping in and out of the pages and you have no clue if a character that appeared for half a paragraph or just one sentence, will ever appear again in the story.

·        Way too many things connected together from different parts of the globe, different religions, different eras and so on … way to confusing. Too many threads in the story and the author seems to be so hell bent on connecting them that it has resulted in flimsy knots all over the reader's head.  

·        Unfortunately … that is not all and there are several more elements in the story that make a hotchpotch that causes severe indigestion.  

Ashwin has done a lot of research and it is evident when you are reading the story … but what happened after that is he tried to connect them all into one big conspiracy theory. The connections turn out to be flimsy and are unable to convince the average reader; although I am sure there are many who will consider Ashwin nothing sort of a Genius and feel that the likes of Dan Brown are nothing compared to him. But of course, there is the other lot which will write-off Ashwin as someone who managed to create a confused mystery. I, incidentally, fall into this second category which is not impressed by Ashwin's work.

Mind You … Rozabal had a lot of potential and had all the makings of a real bestseller which would have sold millions of copies world-wide and not just in India. When I started reading it, I really felt this was an absolutely awesome piece of work and I was mistaken to delay the reading for almost a year. But as I progressed through the book, the novel's grip on me began to loosen and towards the end, I was left with a tangled mess/mass of threads in my head.

I still have the 3rd one from Ashwin - Chankaya's Chant – to read and write about. And I am thinking of getting over it soon …

Friday, April 12, 2013

March Reading – Part 4

 

Continued from previous post …

 

31. 3I Series by MZ - Novella: The Secret of the Three Impostors by Mark Zahn

The Mark Zahn series retains the 'teenage' boys and hence a sense of relief to read after reading the Crimebusters series. In this particular case, thefts are happening in Rocky Beach and the suspects are none other than the trio themselves. Someone is going great lengths at implicating the trio … to the extent that Chief Reynolds catches the members of the three investigators 'red-handed' at the burglary site with the loot in hand !!!

The real villain turns out to be someone who is back from an old case … to seek revenge. Someone who was seriously inconvenienced by the three investigators

 

32. O Henry Shorts: Bexar Scrip No. 2692 by O Henry

A story involving a land-shark attempting to grab a piece of land which has suddenly appreciated in value but currently occupied by an old woman and her son. He has been grabbing land but had not really resorted to wrong means of doing so. This particular instance is going to be a life changing one for him.

 

33. O Henry Shorts: A Lunar Episode by O Henry

A very short one about a fight, a scuffle, a physical bout between 2 guys on the lunar surface (the moon) … the fights ends on a lighter note (literally) and the final sentence of the story is a clincher.

 

34. O Henry Shorts: Nothing New Under the Sun by O Henry

This short is about a writer and his feelings and thoughts and experience while he is writing a new piece of work. He has written something unprecedented and is exalted by it.  He is full of joy and excitement. Unfortunately, next morning he is found dead in the very room where he wrote a masterpiece clutching a piece of newspaper in which was wrapped some food he had bought the previous night.

 

35. O Henry Shorts: A New Microbe by O Henry

A scientist is consumed by his work and is determined to make a discovery. He has his suspicions about the level of bacteria/microbes in the local drinking water and feels he is on the brink of discovery of a new kind of microbe. He gets some water from the kitchen while his wife and kids are away and begins his investigations. He discovers a new microbe and even decides to name it after his wife, who promptly brings him 'back to reality' by explaining the new microbe. 

 

36. O Henry Shorts: Jack the Giant Killer by O Henry

Story telling is an art and a considerable amount of skill goes into narrating a story to a kid … and that is something that can stump grown-ups at times. This short has 3-4 people in a news agency attempting to humor a kid by telling him the story of Jack, the giant killer. Their story telling is highly influenced by their 'work' and their language goes far over the head of the kid.

 

37. O Henry Shorts: Paderewski's Hair by O Henry

This is a short story about a man who brags about the events and incidents in his life to entertain people around him. This particular incident is about how a particular man got his hair … a lion's mane literally.

 

38. O Henry Shorts: Binkley's Practical School of Journalism by O Henry

An enterprising man hits upon a great idea of running a business where his employees actually pay him, their employer, for the employment. The business seems amazingly successful right on the first day of operation … but success can be pretty short-lived at times.

 

39. O Henry Shorts: The Legend of San Jacinto by O Henry

Legends are often told from one generation to another and shared with strangers over a beer or two. Legends spread like this and take a strong hold. And some legends are simply not told.

 

40. O Henry Shorts: In Mezzotint by O Henry

A strange love story which starts with the death of a guy. The story is about the Doctor who is treating this guy and realizes that the man died in spite of his best efforts to save his life and treating his ailments so well. He wonders about the love in the man's heart. The climax is surprising as well as shocking. 

 

 

Series Tracking as of Mar 31st 2013 (72 out of 650)

 

02 out of 11     3 Investigators Novella Series (Crimebusters series) & Series by Mark Zahn

02 out of 10     3 Investigators Novella and Short Stories by Mark Zahn

01 out of 12     Four Short Novel Trilogies by various Authors

00 out of 107   Munshi Premchand short stories (Premchand Shorts)

16 out of 200   O. Henry Short Stories (O Henry Shorts)

10 out of 80     World's Greatest Selected Short Stories (WGS Shorts)

10 out of 85     Philip K Dick short stories (PKD Shorts)

03 out of 40     Arthur Conan Doyle short stories (ACD Shorts)

03 out of 15     Satyajit Ray authored Professor Shonku short stories (Prof. Shonku Shorts) 

08 out of 29     Hitchcock Series – Shrouds and Pockets

10 out of 28     Hitchcock Series – Shadow of Silence

07 out of 21     Hitchcock Series – Most Wanted

00 out of 12     Hitchcock Series – Home Sweet Homicide

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

March Reading – Part 3

 

Continued from previous post …

 

22. 3I Crimebusters Novella: Murder to Go by Megan Stine & William Stine

There is no murder in this novella … only the threat of the murder of millions by slow and gradual food poisoning. As I have mentioned earlier, this new series of 3I is not as exciting as the original although the authors have tried to make it.

A girl meets an accident and loses her accident-day memory. She speaks in her sleep/unconsciousness about millions dying and food being poisoned. She is the daughter of the owner of the hugely famous fast food chain which makes the 'poisoning' bit very interesting for the three investigators who begin to investigate. Soon they start getting threats and they have a host of suspects. The climax did not hold too much surprise but was adventurous nonetheless.

An incident in the story gave me a feeling that either I have seen the incident being used in some English TV series or I might have actually seen an episode of televised version of this novel. The scene is pretty vivid in some corner of my otherwise volatile memory.

 

23. Prof. Shonku Short: Gorillas by Satyajit Ray

Yet another scientist friend of Prof. Shonku goes missing and he sets out to investigate him in the jungles of Africa along with another friend and his neighbor. The scientist was investigating and studying Gorillas and the trio succeeds in locating some strange gorillas in the forest. They investigate further. Prof. Shonku and his scientist friend even get abducted by the Gorillas and it is now up to the neighbor and their local guide to find them, free them from the Gorillas and unravel the mystery behind the whole thing.

 

24. Hitchcock – The Shadow of Silence: The Happenstance Snatch by Fletcher Flora

A perennially unlucky man gambles away his possessions and owes money to someone who would readily kill. He gets help from a friend and decides to run away. A chance encounter brings a young girl into their car and a plan hatches in our man's mind to get some quick money. The plan is to 'kidnap' the girl, who is already with them, and claim ransom money from her father. Alas … his bad luck streak continues to haunt him.

 

25. Hitchcock – The Shadow of Silence: The Dream-Destruction Syndrome by James Holding

A man destroys stuff he dreams about. It begins with an umbrella, continues with his office bag and stretches to his wife. Yes, he dreams of his wife and in this state of dream, tries to kill her. He is genuinely afraid of himself and has been seeking professional help and is now ready to give his wife whatever compensation/alimony she is demanding.

The investigating inspector feels an itch about this very simple open-shut case and uncovers the true picture behind the man's dream-destruction syndrome. A very interesting climax

 

26. Hitchcock – The Shadow of Silence: The Super Salesman by Charles Mcintosh

Our protagonist engages himself in shop lifting … only to encounter an over-zealous salesman who tries to sell him several things. In a bid to get the salesman off his back (so as to not risk exposure) he continues to buy stuff from him and shake him off … spending quite a lot of money before escaping from the store. Once outside the store, he goes to a blind alley to check out his 'loot' and receives the surprise of his life.

 

27. Novel: The Sign by Raymond Khoury

A heavenly sign appears over the Antarctic region where a major ice shelf is breaking apart.  The world witnesses this rare event by chance on TV and several people across the globe react to this event in different ways. The sign appears again over the Arctic region and then … for a change ... appears right in the middle of the desert over the head of a revered man.

The famous TV / press reporter who brings this event to the world goes about her own investigation. A man, a failure in life, gets some indication that his dead brother was involved in some way and may not be dead after all. His attempt to find some information leads to people dying around him with several attempts on his own life. The heavenly event begins to seem to be more of a man-made phenomenon than a divine one. People involved with a scientific research project have died or disappeared – a project which now seems like a top secret mission with covert and overt objectives.

Several parallel tracks in the story create an interesting story to read and weave through. The climax is about shelving the whole situation without causing mass rioting across the globe and preventing a global economic and social meltdown.

 

28. Hitchcock – Most Wanted: China trader by James Holding

A fisherman with a medium sized boat gets attracted to the 'easy money' path and becomes a trader (read: smuggler). Unfortunately, in his first heist itself, he gets shot in the leg and loses a finger. He then takes another path of earning and flourishes … with some efficient partners in crime.

 

29. Hitchcock – Most Wanted: Going to Meet Terry by Rick Hills

A teenager goes out to meet his friend but meets with some horrors instead. He finds his friend hurt and in a bad shape deep inside a tunnel. A story which almost seems to be becoming a 'horror' story.

 

30. Hitchcock – Most Wanted: The Blushing Bride by Barbara Ninde Byfield  

This one was a very interesting story of a voyage with just 4 passengers on a cargo vessel and a strangely obnoxious captain. One of the passengers (an old lady) hardly came out of her room during the entire journey and the other lady kept wondering about it and about the freezer and its contents. Quite a few surprises in the story.

 

 

To be continued …

Monday, April 08, 2013

March Reading – Part 2

 

Continued from previous post …

 

11. WGS Shorts: The Open Window by Hector Hugo Munro (Saki)

This one is a nice and scary tale about a man who comes to a new town and meets some new people and families and his experience at one of the houses. He visits a house where the French window overlooking the lawns is kept open and a young girl quickly tells him the story behind her mother keeping the French window open on the specific day. It turns out to be the anniversary of the disappearance of the male members of their family who had gone out hunting in the woods through that French window. He is still digesting the fact and wondering what a wrong day for him to visit … and the dead family members appear in the lawns coming towards the French window. Imagine the shock that our gentleman would have received.

 

12. WGS Shorts: The Image of the Lost Soul by Hector Hugo Munro (Saki)

Ancient buildings like cathedrals have a lineup of sculptors. This story revolves around one such innocuous sculptor and its relationship with a lone bird. A heartwarming story with a tragic end 

 

13. WGS Shorts: The Sex that doesn't Shop by Hector Hugo Munro (Saki)

A commentary on the 'shopping' instincts of the women and their peculiarities

 

14. WGS Shorts: The Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allan Poe

An epidemic of a ghastly disease is ravaging a kingdom. The Prince decides to take matters in his own hands and orders the most influential (read: rich) people to accompany him to a faraway castle which is stocked with food and luxuries; away from the danger of the disease; all this in a bid to escape the read-death. The story revolves around a party/celebration in this castle when a man in a mask arrives and his effect on the prince.

 

15. Short Novel: Murder in the Milk Case by Candice Speare

A housewife goes out for grocery and ends up finding a dead body in the milk case at the grocery. She gets involved in the investigations and gets drawn deeper into it. She begins to collect clues and realizes that the deceased was holding a lot of secrets about other people and was in fact blackmailing several people in the county, including her own Mom (and of course, herself) … making the suspect list way too long.

She finally manages to figure out the loops and untangles the mystery … while herself becoming obsessed with her practice of making lists of suspects and clues. She is a 'detective' in the making.

 

16. PKD Shorts: Colony by Philip K Dick  

A seemingly pleasing virgin planet which looks like an ideal place to set up a colony suddenly gets dangerous for the people on the space ship that are inspecting it. Inanimate objects begin to come to life and attack people. Soon they realize that the 'threat' to their existence is taking the shape of the inanimate objects and gradually eliminating them.

First a microscope, then a belt and even the doormat and their guns begin to turn on them and inflict fatal damage. They soon realize that they cannot fight this terror and have to leave the planet leaving behind this threat which takes the shape and size of inanimate objects. 

Their last hope seems to escape the planet without any material objects … including clothes. So they request a spaceship to pick them up while they all decide to board the spaceship stark naked … in a bid to avoid taking the threat onboard.

 

17. PKD Shorts: Prize Ship by Philip K Dick  

War between different races of the galaxy and a chance capture of a ship by one race. They begin experimenting with the Prize Ship only to end up experiencing the experiences similar to Gulliver's Travels. They end up meeting the tiny people and also the Giants … speculating that the worlds they read about in children's stories were actually real and they formed a sort of another parallel world somewhere. The climax reveals the true nature of the ship and the secret about the fairy tale worlds. 

 

18. PKD Shorts: Nanny by Philip K Dick  

The 'Nanny' is a machine who plays with the kids and takes care of them. The story is about competition amongst different people to have the best Nanny AND about Nanny's attacking other Nanny's. In a subtle way, PKD passes a comment on the blind race amongst people to outshine each other in terms of their worldly possessions … and the organizations who take advantage of this for their own profit.

 

19. Hitchcock – Shrouds & Pockets: Not Worth Flypaper by Ernest Savage

A man's wife is cheated. The story has interesting twists on how he takes his revenge with some help from an ex-sheriff. 

 

20. Hitchcock – Shrouds & Pockets: The Fake by Isabel Langis Cusack

This must have happened to you sometime. Sitting across an astrologer / palm reader / soothsayer / tarot card reader or any such person trying to predict your future … you might have laughed on the inside at him as you saw through his/her ruse.

This story is about a man who similarly sees through a fortune teller who is making erroneous predictions. The punch of the story is actually in the fact that the things that the fortune teller is actually saying the truth … at the same time hiding it for a reason.

 

21. Hitchcock – Shrouds & Pockets: The Revenooer by Janet Biery

An old lady with her house on the hills with seldom visitors and a big secret to hide. A young man who is going about his work and by chance happens to be in the neighbourhood. The old women thinks that the young man is out there to discover her secret … and even if he is not … he might accidentally discover her secret. The climax is about the fate of this young man.

 

To be continued …

 

Friday, April 05, 2013

March Reading – Part 1

 

I started the month with a novel which I received from the author for review. It was not a very good read. Next, I managed to read some ACD stories (after a 2 month gap).

Next in the line was a non-fiction book which came for review from BlogAdda. It was the self-help book titled 'F?@K Knows' by Shailendra Singh. It turned out to be a very interesting reading experience. This was followed by several short stories from the big-fat volume titled "World's Great Selected Short Stories".

Next, I picked up a short novel 'Murder in Milk Case' by Candice Speare. I followed this with PKD stories and some stories from one of the Hitchcock series books.

Up next were the novella from the Three Investigators Crimebusters series and a Prof. Shonku story before another set of Hitchcock stories.

More than half the month was over before I picked up my first full length (500 pages) fiction novel of the month – The Sign by Raymond Khoury.

The month ended with more Hitchcock stories, a 3I novella and several O Henry stories.

New authors this month: Several new authors this month - Jayanand Ukey (Novel – When the Signal Turns Red), Shailendra Singh (Non-fiction self help book, F?@K Knows), Candice Speare (Novella – Murder in the Milk Case), Raymond Khoury (Novel – The Sign) and the various authors of the stories in the Hitchcock series.

This month's reading score is the best in the quarter – 40 – with novels, novellas and 35 short stories. One reason for the very high number of short stories is that the ones I am reading from WGS and O Henry are pretty short J sometimes just a couple of pages.

I also ordered the 4th Hitchcock book which I did not have (beside the other 3 books of the same series). I have still not been able to order the Munshi Premchand short story collections although I did manage to download a few of his stories in Hindi.  

 

1. Novel: When the Signal Turns Red by Jayanand Ukey

I did not have any high expectations from the novel but the story and the writing style turned out to be too bland for my taste. A simple love story affected by the recession. The novel could have been much better and I blame the publishers as much as the author for the debacle.

 

2. ACD Shorts: The Last Galley by Arthur Conan Doyle

 

A tale of heroism with elements of war, hope, ambition …

 

3. ACD Shorts: The Contest by Arthur Conan Doyle

 

The story of an unknown man who enters into a singing and musical contest with a man whom he considers as an idiot but whose is being applauded by the crowds

He does not know the man and makes the 'mistake' of challenging him. The identity of the man is revealed to the reader at the end of the story.

 

4. ACD Shorts: Through the Veil by Arthur Conan Doyle

 

A couple visits an archeological site and the lady begins to have some visions of an era gone by. What begins as some flashes become full-fledged memories; and towards the end of the story, even her husband makes an appearance in her vision. They leave the site and get back to their normal life. The visions stop … but their lives are irrevocably changed.

 

5. Non-Fiction Self-Help Book: F?@K Knows by Shailendra

This is a self-help book written in a very different style. The philosophy of life and how to live through it is aptly summarized in the title of the book. The title 'F?@K Knows' is the all-pervasive ANSWER to all those ridiculous 'Why Me?' questions we keep troubling ourselves with … and many more of course.

The book does not have new content. If you have read a couple of 'self-help' books, you would find that the book repeats the general funda BUT there is a huge difference. F?@K. The book reiterates the same age-old fundas in a manner which the generation of today find easy to understand and digest since it does in their language where the F-word makes more appearances than the common word 'the'.

 

6. WGS Shorts: Silence – A Fable by Edgar Allan Poe

A strange tale about the Demon and silence that pervades Hell … and people's lives

 

7. WGS Shorts: The Oval Portrait by Edgar Allan Poe

The story has an artist and his obsession for his art and his love for a lady. The story is how the artist is consumed by his art and tries to combine his art and lady love … with horrible results.

 

8. WGS Shorts: A Lively Friend by Guy De Maupassant

A couple makes a friend who comes visiting them at their home. A sweet nice lively fellow; so lively that the couple eventually has to escape from their own home

 

9. WGS Shorts: He? by Guy De Maupassant

The story of a man who is scared of his own loneliness and own self. He narrates his horror experience and how he transformed from a normal fearless guy to a man scared of his own loneliness.

 

10. WGS Shorts: The Death of an Official by Anton Chekhov

What happens when you accidentally sneeze into someone's face? You apologize and the matter ends. But alas, such is not the case with the protagonist of our story, a minor government official. He accidentally sneezes right onto the bald head of a General. He apologizes but the General dismisses it. He understands the accidental sneeze and forgets about it. The protagonist however cannot forget or forgive himself and pays a heavy price.

 

To be continued …

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Book Review: Tantra by Adi

Book: Tantra

Author: Adi

No. of Pages: 335

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary Fantasy, Thriller

Publisher: Apeejay Stya Publishing

Frankly, I wasn't very sure about an Indian Author trying to write a 'vampire' book in Indian settings. First of all, we don't really have a history of the traditional vampires in India so putting together vampires and New Delhi was not easy to digest. Top it up with our own Indian lady vampire hunter and the digestion sure was challenged. The back cover blurb also talked about the vampire huntress dodging the social arrange marriage scene … making the indigestion complete. So I had pretty low expectations when I started reading this 'weird' combination.

BUT … I was in for a surprise. Adi has mixed the above weird concoction really well and infused Tantra (yeah … the Tantrik wala Tantra) very well into the mix

The story is about the Vampire Huntress who takes a 'transfer' from New York to New Delhi with a hidden agenda. She is the best they have and thinks Delhi would be a cake walk for her only to realize gradually that the 'scene' out here in India is very different and vampires are not the only problem .. in fact, they are otherwise at time.

The story had a touch of Indian mythology in the sense that there is the presence of the now-famous (made by Ramayan and Mahabharat serials of course) Brahma-astra and Agni-astra.

If this were a movie, there is some Matrix and Harry Potter style action packed into the fabric of the story as characters fight at some sort of a super-natural level (Brahma-astra and Agni-astra style) … where the ability to go into hyper-drive action comes into play.

I liked the character of Anu Aggarwal … the vampire huntress … who comes in confident at first and is then humbled by the experiences and begins to learn and discover herself. Enemies turn allies and her perspective of things, people, facts, faith, life, her job … all go through a gradual transformation.

The book is not without its fair share of occasional humor and it is a pleasant but exciting thing to read. The pace is good and the story keeps giving you stuff to look forward to in next few pages, making it difficult for you to insert a bookmark and take a pause in the reading. I liked the kind of humor in the novel … Adi weaves humor into the story and its situations without resorting to the typical run-of-the-mill routine and boring comic sequences.

If I were alone on some business tour with a weekend at hand, I would have probably finished this off in a single or maybe a double sitting within a single day. Being at home and going to office daily made the book reading stretch to 3 days. I would definitely recommend this book – in fact, I am going to handover the book to best friend and my book guide, for reading.
Not to forget the Cover Design ... very interesting. The Moon morphed into a Skull took me by surprised although the girl on the cover does not really match the girl and her dressing in the book :) But thats ok ... chalta hain !!

What I did not like is the loose ends at the end of the novel. The authore surely intends to write a sequel, a continuation to the story BUT leaving loose ends … especially those which seem central to the story from the beginning to the end … leaves a sense of being cheated ... sense of having read an incomplete novel ... sense of a few pages missing from the end.

One more thing though, not really a criticism, but more of an expectation I had which did not get fulfilled. The New Delhi setting offered the author plenty of historic and interesting places to use in the story. This did not happen. Except for a few references to the safety of women and metro travel, Delhi was missing in the novel. Wish the author took more advantage of what the city had to offer to the novel. Surprisingly, the cover design also neglects Delhi ... Delhi and its recognizable monuments could have served as a fantastic backdrop to the already good cover design.  

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