Tag Archives: Mystery

Book Review of “The Ordeal” by Mangesh Jadhav

The Ordeal

 by Mangesh Jadhav

We know that USA is capable of quite a lot. Or so it projects in movies and books. But interfering with nature…who would’ve thought!

Mangesh Jadhav’s first offering, a sci-fi one at that, (The Ordeal) is quite entertaining and thrilling. I wasn’t sure how well my mind would receive it- but I was zapped at being hooked on to it from the very first page.

So what’s the story like- you ask? Well we have NASA and NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) working on a satellite that can be used for military purposes. And then you have Russia with its undercover agents reporting the secret to its country, and them coming up with plans to counter it, and therein lies the fantastic plot. How it is brought forth and faced makes for a great read.

For a debut writer, Mangesh has used crisp, clean and very free flowing language that is not only easy but also grammatically fine. (Such relief there.)

The characters are very strong and impactful. Michael Jones, the lead protagonist is a CIA agent. His personality almost reflects through the pages. He is in charge of keeping the mission a secret, and what a fine job he does.
Then we have Suzanne Owen (Private Secretary of CIA’s Director) –a beautiful young lady and Michael’s love interest.
The other cast includes: Dr. Nina Portman, the greedy scientist who can’t but keep a secret for the country and sells her soul to the devil (read: Russians); Dr. Stephen Wilson of NOAA, the one to begin the experiment in the first place, and a bunch of Russians (Alexander Kofman, Andrei Yavlinsky, Vladimir Ivanov, Sergi Nemstor, etc.) who complete the picture in a splendid way.

Another good thing about the novel is the ease of reading it brings- well spaced lettering and smooth language- makes reading sort of uninterrupted and the 400 odd pages did not seem a task, really. The narrative is quite linear. Which is a good thing I guess.

The thriller was thoroughly enjoyed. Crisp plot, remarkable twists, pretty good detailing (sometimes a bit too much of it), it felt more real than just a story. Certain places the author could’ve/ should’ve left open-ended sentences/plots for the reader to interpret or assume or imagine. This would’ve engaged the reader more.

But overall, this is a MUST read- esp. coming from an Indian author- a great debut here!

Kudos!

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Book Review of “The Mine” by Arnab Ray

The Mine scores as a riveting thriller that will linger in your mind for days, after you finish reading the book.
The plot revolves around five experts who are brought to a hi-tech mining facility sensing strange, unexplainable occurrences. What connects them all is their murky past and a hideous truth that has been long under the wraps. And so begins their perilous journey of confronting their fate and facing their destined end.
This fast-paced, dark psychological thriller is divided in to three sections: The Beginning, The Middle and The End; though the prologue sets the stage for the deep rooted mysteries and fears that surface on each page.
You will find references of real life incidents that made news around the country; the crux of it all is a reflection of our own fears.
The interlinked stories that make up the novel have an overpowering sinister effect. Various characters, various settings and the sly intervening of links that leave room for mixed interpretation and open ended questions, will make you retrace your thoughts and flip back a few pages to gasp in awe and wonder, as the author skillfully spins the web of mystery and thrill.
Given our experience with Hollywood/Bollywood flicks, you will end up visualizing the scenes as you read the story. Karma has its own way of getting back. And you might recollect “Death’s List” from the “Final Destination” series. (And many such references will emerge in your mind if you are a movie buff/avid reader.)
The narratives (and the scenes) are racy and breathtaking. The narrative is fresh and rather intriguing. Philosophical at places, the book shakes you with the insights. A diligent mix of Science and Karma, the suspense and the thrill in the book will give you goose bumps with every new page. And you will not deny that “the greatest evil lies deep inside.”

 

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To Date Or Not To Date

There was a blog by Rosemarie Urquico on “Date a girl who reads” that created ripples. That was a response to Charles Warnke’s “You should date an illiterate girl”.

 

Since I was almost facing a “writer’s block” and couldn’t think of a blog idea, I thought, why not jot points for people who wish to date. So we can take a look at pros and cons of dating people who are well read, vs. others who disregard books.

Let’s begin with the cons. (No, I’m not a pessimist. I just want the negative out of the way.)
•    A person who loves to read and write would know just too well when you are lying.

•    They would be your grammar police when you least expect them to be.

•    They would be more crazier than you –speaking like Shakespeare, imagining likeRowling, reciting like Keats, talking about Gainman and what have you!

•    They will be master storytellers telling you off. They would have their expectations running high –thanks to all romantic/mystery novels they would’ve gulped by now.

•    They would be gaining more limelight, than you, amongst your peers. And sometimes more weight, sitting around with books as their sole companions.

•    They might, sometimes, be too engrossed in a book to pay attention to you. And sometimes they might end up paying more attention to details than expected.

•    They might lose their cool and snap at you, just because the protagonist behaved like an ……..
And now for the pros:

•    Cost

One of the most important of all factors. (Yes, let’s be practical.) Dating a person who reads implies an inexpensive affair. Books nowadays do cost a lot. Unless they are from some of the Indian publishers who save on the paper quality and offer books for like a mere Rs. 100!
Getting him/her a library card would go easy on your mind and pocket. And also relieve you of thinking, “What should I gift him/her now!?”
Dating a person who does not read implies there is greater cost involved. Imagine the kind of shopping some people indulge in – guys and their electronic gadgets; and girls with their (bare) clothing. Oh this is much more expensive!!!

 

•    Conversation abilities

Hands down I think a well read person can engage you in intellectual conversation, over a person who absolutely scorns books and newspapers. A well read person adds value to your knowledge bank. He/she can help you spin fantastic stories, and dwell in a world of goblins and fairies when you need some cheering.

•    Personality
A person who reads would be wise. (Let’s just say so for conversation sake.) He/she would be more composed and mannered than a person who doesn’t. He/she will understand that failure doesn’t mean the end of the world. A sequel can be written and life will move on. Success will follow. After all, you are the lead of your life story.

•    World of fantasy
There can be so much to talk about, so much to imagine, so much to fantasize about, with a person who reads, (and reads good stuff) over a person who can’t even make decent stories to save his/her life.

•    Priorities
Well…at times his/her books would gain priority over you. But it’s better than indulging in mindless banter with a person who knows not much. True you will be given all the attention and pampering by a person who doesn’t care much for books, but is that of any value when there is no growth, individually or together. If you crave for intellectual challenges, be prepared to not indulge in any with the person who cares not for the written word.

•     Simple living. High thinking.
Apart from the fact that this is Mahatma Gandhi’s quote, it is quite relevant in life. The person gobbles up words like a hungry reader is sure to find pleasures in simple things in life. A flower, the rainbow, the first drop of rain, a butterfly, a coloring book, colors, stationary, anything that brings in a smile instantly without any effort. He/she would inspire you more than life itself, someday!

 

•    Life

Life will no longer be bland with a person who reads. Imagine adventures, treasure hunts, fantasy world stories. You might end up having weird (in a nice way) kids with weirder tastes and observation powers. Growing old with that person would be so much easier and fun. It’s true when they say, marry a person who you can talk to, because when you are old, it’s only good conversations that keep you going. He/she would recite KeatsWordsworthShakespeare,WhitmanWilde with much ease when you wish to hear a few words of love.

•    Other factors
It’s better to have you partner check out books than check out other people when with you. And who doesn’t make mistakes? We all are human after all. At least you can expect a well-worded apology in case you partner goofs up at some place.

All the places that you cannot afford to visit can be imagined and improvised in the company of a partner who utilizes his/her creative abilities to the hilt. He/she will lend you a listening ear. Always. Because, he/she knows how to give someone their undivided concentration.

He/she would know when to get serious and when not. He/she would appreciate your passion just like their’s.

So you see…there are too many pros of dating a well-read person. So go ahead, find yourself a…

good book and begin reading. NOW!

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Book Review of “Shadow of Your Smile” By Mary Higgins Clark

The Shadow of Your Smile

By Mary Higgins Clark

A well crafted novel by Mary Higgins Clark. But I don’t really know whether it is “bestseller” material.
I found it pretty mediocre.

Seems like the author has a fixed formula or a style of portraying her characters.

The story is about an independent young pediatrician Monica Farrell, her entitlement to a fortune she isn’t aware of, her links to a nun, the murder of a relative, some unscrupulous businessmen, greedy relatives, star crossed lovers, a detective, a bit of flying romance with an overall conservative setting – averaging to a typical thriller set in its own pace. 

And it’s weird how the title has no relevance to the plot!

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Book Review of “The 9th Judgment” By James Patterson and Maxine Paetro

The 9th Judgment

By James Patterson and Maxine Paetro

Well, this one is a fast paced entertainer. It delivers a generous dose of mystery, shock, awe, suspense and excitement – till the last page. Patterson and Paetro’s lethal combination (of writing and visualizing skills) surely captivates attention and definitely all nerves!

The story shows Detective Lindsey Boxer and her partner, Rich Conklin, working on two cases – a female cat burglar (Hello Kitty) robbing the city’s celebrities of their jewels; and a sadist, ruthless, psycho, serial killer (Lipstick Killer) targeting mothers and their children and callously killing both.

The characterization of Claire, Cindy, and Yuki are well rounded and realistic. They come across as the smart, brave, sometimes arrogant, yet vulnerable lot.

Certain sections of the story seemed predictable, since Patterson has a peculiar style of depicting mysteries.

But the climax of the two contrasting cases comes loaded with an ironic twist.

The gripping tale and acute detailing of events and the horrendous crime shuns its readers from putting it down until the very last word.

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Book Review of “The Beach House” by James Patterson and Peter de Jonge

The Beach House

By James Patterson and Peter de Jonge

A good paced legal thriller.

Jack is a law student at the Columbia University. He is shocked to hear the news of his brother’s death by drowning. Cops claim it is because of drug overdose and eventual drowning. But truth be told – he is murdered. Peter’s body was found on the Amagansett estate of the famous and wealthy Neubauer family. When Jack sees the body he is convinced it is not a normal death. There are some marks on his body that confirm his belief.

Jack starts his own investigation and turns on the heat on the local cops as well as the Neubauer family. Soon he has a thug on his trail threatening and frightening him.

Jack’s girlfriend too walks out on him. His father dies. He loses his internship. But he still believes justice will be served. And his grandfather supports him all the way.

But the people with money controlling the power seem to have a highly treacherous and deadly secret to hide. And they would do anything to keep it under wraps. And they buy the lawyers, doctors, friends and cops – anyone and everyone who has a price. Lies, deceit, revenge, money, mayhem engulf the victim and everyone around him.

Lots of twists and surprises make this an engrossing read.  JP and Peter de Jonge deliver another fast-paced thrilling page-turner.

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Book Review of “Cross Country” By James Patterson

Cross Country

By James Patterson

 

A thriller by James Patterson featuring the forensic detective Alex Cross.

 

The plot revolves around the cold-blooded murder of Ellie Cox (Alex’s friend / first real love) and her family by a criminal known as “Tiger”. Many people are brutally murdered by this horrendous person and Cross takes it upon him to catch “Tiger” and deliver justice to Ellie and others murdered by him. His quest lands him in Africa.

The grim reality of this new country though depicted well (to a certain extent) is very graphic in nature. The corrupt government officials in Nigeria arrest, jail and torture Alex for three days before the CIA can come to his rescue. He witnesses some of the most horrible situations and conditions of the people of Africa, far beyond anyone’s imagination. The dire situation in Darfur and the diamond mines of Sierra Leone are boldly portrayed by the author.

Though Alex comes across as smart detective in most of his books, in this one it feels like he walks into lame situations without giving it any thought. How did he simply fly over to Africa tracing a murderer without any political or government assistance?! Why does he end up landing his family into trouble and pain?

The gruesome murders, the contrived situations, and a loose and somewhat complicated plot did not satisfy me as a reader.

Patterson’s short chapters ending with a cliffhanger made it easier to finish the book but the poor action did not keep me engrossed like before.

 

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Book Review of “The Lifeguard” By James Patterson and Andrew Gross

Lifeguard

By James Patterson and Andrew Gross

 

Let the name not fool you. This one does not have a straight-up “beachy” plot, but none-less-less good action.

This new thriller is filled with suspense and high tension “who-dunnit” guesses.
So we have Ned Kelly, a college graduate turned lifeguard/pool boy/handy man sorta guy at the Palm Beach. His father Frank Kelly is a small time criminal. And so are his friends Mickey, Bobby, Dee, and Barney.
Ned falls in love with a rich and beautiful “out of his league” girl Tess McAuliffe. He wants to give up his rotten ways to settle down with her.
His friends coax him to join them in one last heist, worth millions, so as to live a comfortable life with Tess.
It is supposed to be an easy job. All Ned has to do is trigger out several house alarms, as a distraction, while his friends steal the multi-million dollar worth art pieces from the mansion of Dennis Stratton.
But thins do not go as planned. The art pieces are not where they were supposed to be. They are double-crossed. All four end up being murdered. And Tess too. It seems like someone has framed Ned.
Ned flees to Boston, escaping the clutches of the cops, some criminals and of course the mastermind of the heist (Dr. Gachet).
Ned is soon caught by FBI agent, Ellie Shurtleff. But soon she too is almost convinced of his innocence and together they set out to nab the real criminals.

Though this one is quite fast paced and full of suspense, it does lack depth at some places. Ned seems to be forever sulking (initially). I wish there was more of Champs (the Aussie guy). There were some really silly instances portrayed (taking off car plates; trying to rob million dollar worth stuff with no artillery; etc).
The plot is decent, not an extra ordinary surprise ending. Lot many characters sometimes spoil the structure – but thankfully JP has managed to hold it, albeit missing the usual wit/humor. I don’t like JP co-authoring books. They tend to burn out soon.
Overall this one is worth a read.

 

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Book Review of “Just Take My Heart” By Mary Higgins Clark

Just Take My Heart

By Mary Higgins Clark


Mary Higgins Clark delivers yet another entertaining, mystery/thriller with an interesting twist and definitely a gripping plot, like always!
The title itself is so alluring.The story is about a famous actress shot in her house entangling her “soon to be”ex-husband as the prime suspect.
Emily Wallace is put on the case and she has an interesting story of her own. She’s a war widow and had recently undergone a heart transplant, and has a sub-plot revolving around it. Moreover, her creepy neighbor seems to be spying on her bringing in another plot to the gamut. The revelation of the crime bit-by-bit and the unfolding of the entire plot take the reader through a myriad of emotions – all worth it!
And by the end of the book, all you do is praise the author’s art of storytelling.
It is a fast paced story with some amazing courtroom dialogues and drama. The characters seemed a bit stereotypical and the climax was almost predictable, but absolutely enjoyable.

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Book Review of “Sam’s Letters to Jennifer” By James Patterson

Sam’s Letters to Jennifer

By James Patterson

 

*Spoiler Alert*

I do like some emotion stirring read, sometimes. But this one felt like an over-doze!

I don’t know if I should be doing this – but Sam in this case – is Samantha – Jennifer’s grandma.

The story begins with Jennifer moving back to her small town to take care of her grandmother who is injured in a fall and is now in coma. To give you a bit of Jennifer’s background – she loses her husband in an accident and undergoes a miscarriage too. Apart from her family, the only person Jennifer can count on and is close to, is her grandma – Sam.

So, as Jennifer is getting accustomed to her community life, she happens to come across Sam’s letters that reveal a part of Sam’s life which Jennifer never knew. The letters, addressed to Jennifer, were placed in her room in Sam’s house. In them, Sam discloses certain aspects of love that she wants Jennifer to experience and appreciate. The letters disclose the secret love life of Sam.

During this time, Jennifer also happens to reconnect with her childhood friend Brendan. And things move beyond friendship – as fated! But there is more to Brendan’s life that what meets the eye!

The novel comprises two love stories. It is fast-paced read; and quite a departure from Patterson’s regular mystery/thriller shockers but it does have suspense – almost right till the end.

The character of Jennifer is very relatable – one who has loved and lost and is scared to walk the same path again. Brendan is a free-spirited man with no inhibitions. And Sam who has found solace in accepting love in this “secret” sorta way.

This book shows an extremely emotional side of Patterson – an unexpected profile. There are quite a few heart-stirring moments that would appeal to the soft at heart – somehow I could relate to them only a wee bit.

I’d say it is a one-time read if you are the emotional sorta person. It focuses on love, relationships, family and faith. I think I like Alex Cross’ series more than emotional reads.

 

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