Thursday, June 26, 2014

Review: Lethal Spice by Swati Kaushal (Niki Marwah, #2)

Some genres have really shown way in the Indian literary scenario. Murder mystery being one of them. Some interesting ideas and concepts have blossomed along the way. Author Swati Kaushal in her latest offering "Lethal Spice" takes readers to a new journey never thought of or read of with spiced up and full baked ideas. So does this mix of spices taste right or is it a bitter-sweet experience? Let's find out. 

A hundred-year-old stage steeped in tradition. Six contestants with a world to gain and everything to lose. Three judges who stand between them and their dreams. It is October in Shimla. The air is crisp the mist is rising and the stakes are sky-high as the finalists of India's no. 1 reality cooking show hot chef are pitted against each other in a live shoot at the historic gaiety theatre. The spices are ground the fires are lit the knives have been sharpened. Then things start to go horribly wrong. As she picks her way through a maze of testimonies and motives Shimla's superintendent of police Niki Marwah is more determined than ever to get to the bottom of a perplexing mystery a mystery that this time around is dangerously close to her heart.

First look at the title and the cover and some might mistake it for a cookery book. But the facts underlie somewhere else. It's title a bit more suggestive towards the theme. The cover image could have been done in a better manner though it suits the theme. The blurb talks about an old theatre and some misshappenings under the jurisdiction of SP Marwah. The blurb as the novel requires doesn't gives out any clues and facts of the story and keeps it all under wraps. 

The story starts off from Shimla where SP Marwah's quite evening is disrupted when there is a commotion in the Gaiety Theatre hosting one of the episodes of Hot Chef, a reality cookery show. A dead body of a star celebrity is discovered and after that it becomes a game of cat and mouse as Niki Marwah tries to hunt down the killers and find the motive. But the death and people involved in the show shrouded with a cloud of mystery. So will the show go on? Will Mala the deceased get justice? Is it someone close or a distant person who committed the ghastly crime? Will SP Marwah taste the spice of success? That's what the story is all about. 

The story from the word go is fuming and steaming and serving a lot of spiced up events. The book starting off slowly but picking up gradually as it unfolds. The action, suspense and melodrama of the contestants giving edge and air to the whole idea. The entire set up fresh and never heard of in a murder mystery. The book managing to charm the readers with it's catchy narration and grit of SP Marwah. The surprises be-fooling all and playing appropriate mind games with the reader. The story running it's course smoothly till the end with a hero and a shadowy antagonist on the large. The entire plot manages to turn the tide and devoid the readers of any predictable ideas about the shaping up of the story.  

The downside of the book is SP Marwah loosing her relevance sometimes as she is being overshadowed by the heroics of her sidekicks. More leverage to her character was required. The antagonist of the story has a brief appearance. The suddenness of few events not leaving a good impression on the mind. 

All in all the story manages to tell tale a twisted murder mystery served with various and required flavours. The book managing to bind most of the aspects together and giving a fresh lease of life to the entire genre. The story manages to pull of some unprecedented heroics and grabs a lot of positive eyeballs all throughout. A book with a lot of spice and entertainment for everyone. 


4 OUT OF 5 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Review: The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (Cormoran Strike, #2)

Murder mysteries are a hard thing to catch by nowadays. Most of them not able to live up to the expectations. Few survive with a lingering effect. Author Robert Galbraith in his latest offering "The Silkworm" bounds and gags the readers with something which cannot be dreamt of in the wildest of imaginations. So has this idea worked or back-fired? Let's find out.  

Owen Quine, a novelist, has not been home for a few days now. His wife immediately calls Strike to find out if he can help her find out where he is. Quine is known to have gone missing for many days from his home, but has always returned. However, Strike finds out that this time this is not the case. The novelist is in some kind of trouble which his wife is not aware of. After much research, Cormoran finds out that Owen has written a novel which reveals dark secrets about the people that he knows. This could damage their reputation if the book is published. The novelist is soon found brutally murdered. Strike is determined to find out who this killer is, and realizes that this killer is probably the worst he has ever dealt with.

First look at the title and the cover and an air of mystery shrouds the whole book. The title is far from cheeky or catchy and the cover image of a man walking down a dark small lane adds to the whole effect behind the book. The blurb talks about a writer and his mysterious disappearance and how it's going to become one of the most talked cases of the town. The blurb evidently and rightly so doesn't lets out any secrets which can act as a spoiler for the readers. 

The story is based in London and revolves around a writer Owen Quine who suddenly goes missing from his home. His wife approaches Detective Cormoran preceded by his sudden shot to fame after unearthing the Lula Landry case. Cormoran finds himself in a fix as there are no leads and nothing to work on in the case. But gradually as he starts to wander about in the streets of London it becomes more and more dark and mysterious. So will Cormoran Strike be able to put a leash to the never ending saga along with his charming but intelligent secretary Robin? How will Cormoran go about this case? Will he taste defeat at the hands of the other forces? What happened to Owen Quine and where he disappeared suddenly? That's what the story is all about.  

Once you set an image of the blurb in your mind the book starts shaping up. The wide exploration of London through the eyes of Detective Cormoran Strike, his uncanny and pokey ways of unearthing hidden facts and to add to that his over-enthusiastic but love torn secretary Robin makes it a entertainment cum mind boggling thriller. There's hardly been a foot wrong once the whole plot unwinds as the momentum has been kept from brisk to frustrating which adds to the murder mystery and curiosity of the readers. The rejoicing factors such as excitement till the end and a never ending list of suspects makes it a thorough and a complete package for thriller fanatics. The story engaging and the set up compelling all the while. The characters all important with added elements of mystery, goofiness, sadism and slapstick but professional aura. The narration well oiled like a machine and facts spread out to be savoured till the end. 

There are no downsides in the story. It's very hard to find mistakes or loopholes in the book. 

All in all from the outset the author ensures complete drama and action of different sorts. There are verbal volleys instead of combats, counter measures, accusations, jealousy,love and above all a clouded conspiracy which is like a cherry on the top. It engages the reader thoroughly and leaves no margin for error. It works over time and charts it's course with precision and pin-point accuracy. A novel balanced up with all the elements of a murder mystery and the thrills of it giving goosebumps till the end. A book which will not only unsettle the minds but make it look all very simple yet alluring in the end. A reader's delight and a paradise to an altogether different type of a story. 


5 OUT OF 5 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Review: Zindagi Ke Martbaan Se by Kuhoo Gupta

Poetry has the power to erupt various emotions with it's narration. Sometimes the words might be few but it can be as exploding as a book or a story. Author Kuhoo Gupta in her poetry collection "Zindagi Ke Martbaan Se" takes readers on a journey of life with poems penned down from various minute observations and experience. So has she been able to stir the right emotions of a reader? Let's find out. 

Zindagi Ke Martbaan Se' is a poetry collection written in conversational language - Hindi mixed with Urdu and English. The poems are inspired by a plethora of topics like love, nostalgia, remembrance, random human emotions, natural beauty and spirituality. It is something everybody will be able to relate to because it is inspired from the jar called Life that everyone goes through. It is something that will make you cry, smile or just appreciate in your leisure moments. 

The title and the cover are pretty much in line with what the book has to offer the readers. The cover image with  a touch of gold but dull. The title intriguing and asking the readers to delve deep into the poems and savour the various aspects of life. The blurb is only a brief description of what a reader can expect from the book once the pages are turned.  

The poems in the book are largely based on life and various everyday human experiences so it manages to capture quite good attention of a reader. The sing song narration prevalent and right mix of brief and long poems. The words and vocabulary able to spin the right kind of aura which is required to read the poetry. 
The sense of belonging is there in the book and it makes you feel comfortable with it's flow. The aspects of life have been given a lot of space and rightly so it manages to build  the right flavour for the audiences. 

The downside of the book is it's initial narration in the first few poems. The poems not able to hold up the attention and feeling incomplete at times. The short two liners and four liners in form of poems could have been avoided after an initial burst. 

All in all the book with it's unique exhibition of life takes readers to a calm and peaceful journey. Most of the times reviving the olden days where poetry had it's relevance and meaning. A nice attempt to get the form back into existence but the fine touch found wanting at times. A light hearted book by the author for the readers to savour of what life is for everybody. 


3 OUT OF 5

Review: Runner by Patrick Lee (Sam Dryden, #1)

Thriller novels are not a scarce entity nowadays. While few have managed to capture the attention of the readers and few just missing out the entire point of their existence. Author Patrick Lee in his latest offering "Runner" has created another soldier or a hero who stands up against the wrong. So has the author got it right with the story and his hero? Let's find out. 

Ex-soldier Sam Dryden was done being a hero. But when, acting on instinct, he hides a terrified young girl from a group of well-armed pursuers, his fate is sealed.
Rachel can't remember much, but she knows she was imprisoned by the men trying to kill her and that she is important to them. In Dryden, though, Rachel has found the perfect protector. But hunted and on the run, it's only as Rachel's memory returns that Dryden begins to fully appreciate the scale of the dangers they face and then only one thing matters - Don't. Get. Caught.

First look at the title and the cover and thriller is written all over it. The title is simple but the tagline is more catchy. The cover image of two people running on an empty road gives few glimpses of what to expect in the novel. The blurb has been kept short and talks about two people and how they have to survive against the odds. It doesn't gives away the secrets of the book and holds the attention of the reader. 

The story talks about Sam Dryden an ex-soldier who stumbles across Rachel an eleven year old girl on his routine early morning walks and instantly gets connected to her life story. As they run across the length and breadth of many U.S states there are far superior motives to kill the girl. But Dryden becomes a godfather for her shielding the young girl away from menacing agents and the government. So who will win this cat and mouse game? Will they be caught? What is the purpose behind Rachel's assassination? Will Dryden become a hero or end up against the wrong side of the law? That's what the story is all about. 

The exhilarating action, the curiosity to read more and more with every chapter, a twisted thriller and a strong fiction character binds the story together and delivers an action packed thriller. There is no dearth of the unthinkable and the slight little edge the story gets from an unusual angle catches the attention almost immediately. The hide and seek game and menacing drama almost keeps the readers minds busy and over-thinking all the time. There's no eureka formula to decipher the whole plot but still it manages to get the facts and sequences right. The narration vivid and descriptive combat sequences adds to the charisma of Sam Dryden the fictional hero of the story. 

The downside of the book is it's messed up second half and in particular towards the end the story not getting it's befitting due. The lack of a strong antagonist towards the end also leaves gaping holes in the story. 

All in all the book is combo of entertainment and furious events of tell tale. It's like running on a highway non-stop. The book with it's fine balance of action and drama maintains the momentum. The end not able to sustain it though. The grip firm over the characters and set up and making the readers mind work almost for everything. It's a good deliverance with a desire for more in future. 


3 OUT OF 5

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Review: Love Kills by Ismita Tandon

Murder mystery have an air of excitement always around them. There's a lot of anticipation about what's going to happen next and it ruffles up many in the process. Author Ismita Tandon in her latest thriller book "Love Kills" takes a lesser known route which needs precision and deliverance at it's best. So has she been able to do both with a single shot? Let's find out. 

Meet Johnny W - Will, not Walker - named thus by his alcoholic father who died under mysterious circumstances. Johnny is the founder of Thy Will, a dead diction centre for the rich and the famous and the fiancĂ©e of Mira Kermani, daughter of the richest man in town. His questionable methods aside, Johnny's commitment to ridding his patients of alcohol and drug abuse is beyond doubt. How ironic then that Mira is found dead in her apartment from an overdose of morphine. But why is Officer Ray convinced that Johnny is the killer? Johnny's assistant Sera, who secretly love him and his half-brother Zac are working hard to protect him from the officer. Or are they? Could Aunt Adele's hunger for what was rightfully her sons inheritance have driven her to murder? Or is the murderer an unhappy patient? From the author of the disturbing and controversial Jacob Hills, an unputdownable story of crime and passion in the hill station town of Monele.

First look at the title and the cover and no guess work is required to decipher the theme of the story. The title itself is suggestive and the cover image adds up to the whole set up. The cover image could have been done a bit more tastefully as it look little plain. The blurb talks about a small town and a gruesome incident which has taken place. The author manages to conceal the hidden secrets of the story and rise up the temptation to go through the entire book. 

The story is set in Monele a small hill station near Ooty where Johnny Will a renowned doctor is embroiled in a controversy in the past and present both. Both the murders marking him as a prime suspect. The small peaceful town disturbed by the height of atrocities in it's womb. Officer Ray appears from Johnny's past and is hell bent on proving Johnny guilty. But it's not going to be an easy task. So is Johnny really guilty? Will officer Ray be able to decipher the mystery behind the entire sequence? How many lives will be at task during the entire process and who will turn out to be a friend or enemy is to be found out? That's what the story is all about. 

The small town set up, few but powerful characters, a confined storyline, murders,suspects, varied interests and a lot of confusing theories make up the entire face of the story. All of them mixed and fine tuned to perfection. The vocabulary of the author and narration making up the entire core of the book. The story promises all thrill and excitement and suspense which one tries to search and rely on in a mystery book. The excitement and a feeling of something about to happen all the time adds up to the already pent up emotions. The book making merry of the readers brains and the teasing effect of the entire story a feather in the cap. The intensity is no less every time a page is turned or a chapter is dealt with. It has been written with conviction and command. 

There no downsides in the book. 

All in all the story ties and binds you from the first till the last page. All glory and no duller effects make it one of a better known stories. The plot spreading it's charisma with all in abundance of what is required in a story. Not a foot wrong during the carving out of characters and plot. The book with deliverance in style and magnanimous effect. A colourful yet deep dark thriller for the readers to cherish and savour for a long time.    


5 OUT OF 5

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Review: The Emperor's Riddles by Satyarth Nayak

There is a golden rule that "History is always a mystery". No man or force has been able to overturn the fact. The strong presence and absence of something or someone always leaving grave marks on the mind and soul of many. Author Satyarth Nayak in his book "The Emperor's Riddles" takes you on a journey so unknown and so grave that it can alter the course of lives. So has the author been able to capture the essence of the old? Let's find out. 

More terrifying than the savage murder of historian Ram Mathur on the ghats of the Ganga are the questions that follow. The letter carved on his face, the cryptic mail he sends his daughter Sia after he dies, more murders piling up. Desperate for answers, Sia turns to esoteric writer and friend Om Patnaik. But what begins as a hunt for the killer, becomes an extraordinary trail of riddles strewn across the country, that must end at the gates of an enigma. Patnaik and Sia race from one riddle to another, towards a royal secret that has remained alive for centuries.

First look at the title and the cover and the long lost history dances before the eyes of the reader. The shiny sword and the eye behind it shrouded with mystery. The title adding to the dilemma and working it's way in to the curious minds. The blurb talks about a murder and few people who get dragged into the controversy. The blurb is precise and leaves no clues whatsoever and leaves everything on the readers imagination. 

The story starts off from the present day where Ram Mathur a well known person has been found murdered in a gruesome manner. The police and her daughter in a fix. An author Om gets his true calling when he is summoned abruptly by his dead friend and later on it all becomes a puzzle. There are no weak links and no head starts. But Om & Sia have to undertake a journey to reveal the true face behind Ram's murder. So will the duo be able to crack the code? Who will win this race of mystery? Will there be more to it than meets the eye? What awaits them at the end of the quest? That's what the story is all about. 

The story is like a man in a fix in the night. Topsy and turvy. There are dead ends and glimmers of hope. The adventure is enthralling. The story line smooth and simple yet convincing. The history blended with science with exemplary efforts. Some undiscovered facts and research leading to the building of the story are source of knowledge and information. The book delving in to the depth and uncovering a lot of mysteries with fiction going hand in hand. Strong character presence and enactment of the whole plot is mesmerizing. Every word and line speaking loud and speaking something new. It's a shiny new idea with a lot of gutsy deliverance. The build up and the excitement are the strong suites of the book. 

The downside of the book is it's weak parallel plot which works in the past but feels incomplete. The mystery getting fizzled out towards the end in lieu of a murder mystery. Historical essence being given less weight age over other aspects of the story in the second half.  

All in all the book with it's mystic elements and glorious myths does casts a spell on the readers. But it bleeds a lot as the parallelism and the shuffle of past and present somehow doesn't works. The present overpowering the past. The enigmatic and charismatic narration occupying the senses and letting us travel the unknown spaces of history. The book dives and dives hard but doesn't comes out unscathed. The story remarkably well woven with profound command. The promise by the storyline upheld and delivered to the readers in a lavish style. 


3 OUT OF 5.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Review: Anti-Social Network (Inspector Virkar, #2)

Social networking as it turns out to be has become an overpowering medium of communication among people. From teenagers to oldies all are coloured in one single effect of social networking. But hazardous attempts have been made to malign people and it has also become a source of notorious activities. Author Piyush Jha in his latest thriller "Anti-Social Network" has embarked on a mission to uncover the gruelling face of social networking. So does he aces in his attempt to throw some light? Let's find out. 

When college students across Mumbai are murdered one after another in gruesome ways, inspector Virkar from the crime branch is called in. As Virkar investigates, he stumbles upon a ruthless gang of young, tech-savvy miscreants who use social networking sites and the Internet for blackmail and sextortion. But how are the two cases linked? And who is the mastermind behind these killings?
As the case grows murkier, the computer-challenged Virkar finds himself greatly out of his depth, chasing a killer who always seems to be one step ahead and a group that soon trains its sights on him. He must race against time to unmask the gang and to find the murderer before his reputation is ruined forever. Thick with suspense and layered with grit, anti-social network brings to you inspector Virkar's toughest case yet.

First look at the title and the cover and the black and red in the image is an evidence to the fact that something shady and mysterious is going to be part of this book. The title very unusual but a commonly used term nowadays makes an instant connection to the readers. The blurb talks about one the upcoming fiction heroes and his latest endeavours with a case never seen or heard of. It's a blurb concealed in mystery and forcing people to rake their brains and run in tow with Inspector Virkar to solve a crime. 

The story starts off with some gruesome murders in Mumbai city and Inspector Virkar is found in action and at helm of the case. The police along with people are clueless as the whole thing gathers momentum and takes Virkar to the length and breadth of the entire city. But there's more to what Virkar can decipher and unearth from his investigations. So will Virkar be able to solve the serial killing saga? Is there a twist in the tale? Will it prove to be a roadblock in Virkar's shiny career? Let's find out. 

As the book promises there is no dearth of suspense, action and high voltage thrill. The length and breadth of Mumbai being covered with ease.  As a crime thriller it manages to invade the minds and gets the better of the reader with it's flawless interpretations and bold coverage. There is a feeling of ease as the pages are turned and it's evident all throughout.The book paces beautifully and along the way leaves a lot for the readers to decipher. The story with an uncanny fiction hero makes up the entire set up daunting and challenging. The theme of the story as social networking weaves out its charm and commands the appropriate attention from thriller fanatics. The story has been spiced up at the right places and promises a completely new experience delivered in local style. 

The only downside of the book is it could have avoided the local dialect  in the story after sometime.  

All in all the story once again with a powerful narration and a well groomed hero churns out a simple looking yet captivating thriller. The book stirs the desire of the readers to crave for more from the author's pen. It also extinguishes the quench of the readers in a grand fashion. There are no ifs and buts in the story line and it's a smooth sail without hiccups. The book has a motion to reel effect and leaves the readers gasping for breath at the end of it. A befitting crime thriller. 


4 OUT OF 5