Friday, January 30, 2015

Review: Odysseus:The Oath by Valerio Massimo Manfredi

History is a witness to great kings and great deeds. All of them etched with golden ink to leave a befitting lesson for the generations to come. Some counted as glory and some considered as mistake. Author Valerio Massimo Manfredi in his latest series takes us back to the time when all of Achian land and Troy were at war. It's all about one man and his will to change the course of history. So has the author done enough justice to the good old tale? Let's try to uncover it. 

A man becomes a hero. As a young boy in Ithaca, Odysseus listens in wonder to his grandfather Autolykos, a man feared by many across the land as a ruthless fighter. He learns of his heritage and a lifelong passion is sparked-to become an adventurer and warrior. In Mycenae, he meets king Eurystheus and learns the terrible story of Hercules-the man with god-like strength who slaughtered his family and punished by the king to undertake impossible tasks to earn absolution. But is Eurystheus the man he says he is? When a child comes to Odysseus in the middle of the night, with another, very disturbing, version of what happened that fateful night, Odysseus embarks on the first of his extraordinary quests. So begins the epic story of Odysseus, the first of two volumes-an adventure of love, war, courage and heroism, weaving from a small rocky island in Greece, to the mighty fall of Troy.

First look at the title and the cover and flashes of reminder can run past a reader's eye. It's a tale which probably has become a famous folklore and a bedtime tale. Lessons have been preached in educational institutions about it and people so many generations down the line still talk about it. It's also about a man who finds himself lost in the tides of time but the book brings forth the best of him in a conventional manner. The blurb talks about Odyssues the great king of Ithaca and his exploits when lands of Greece were ridden with lust of power and glory. 

The story is set of in Ithaca, where a legend has been born. A great tactician blessed with one of the most curious minds and calm demeanor. His legendary soul to be part and parcel of something grave and so huge that it will remain etched in minds of countless generations. His legacy tied up with others who swear by his name and blood. Along with some of the greatest sons of the Greek soil, Odyssesus the man himself has partaken the first steps to rewrite history and remodel the future. But will destiny be as it comes or will it alter it's course? Who's going to be in it for him or who all will live to tell the tale? That's what the story is all about. 

Whenever one treads down the old dusty lanes and visits the shambles of the ruins, the glorified remains of the past it sends a tizzy. Similar is the experience in a book, when it talks about events which weren't a witness to, but these writings and ballads are the remnants of what kings and kingdoms went through to make it a reality. A distant dream in today's time but in those days a hardcore truth. The book discovers it with a grizzly and chilling life of Odysseus. From the war cries of Battle of Troy to the childhood exploits of young boy king. it's a journey which itself is a legendary tale. The battle of wits and glory and the maddening aspect of being one and all is heart warming. The tale of love and the whim to be at the forefront, from being a young boy to become the king of all times it's all described perfectly in the book. There's no aspect, big or small which lefts unseen in the story. There's a certain voodoo charm to the entire saga.

The only possible downside of the story is when Achilles heads to play a more important role possible cutting down the enigma of Odysseus. Though, two legends cannot be at helm but the book is more about Odysseus, so his treatment is richly deserved which becomes less penetrative in the latter half of the story. 

All in all, one cannot lament the fact that they missed the action. It's all there to see and experience in the veins, through the eyes of one of the greatest Greek heroes. The unified lands and the war heroics are barbaric, yet subtle in their approach. The author carefully considers the journey and assembles the best of the best for the readers to experience and pass it on to the future generations. The placid language and simplicity makes it a magnanimous experience. From the signs of it, it's no less than a victory in itself. A book to remember for long. 


4 OUT OF 5    

Monday, January 19, 2015

Review: Malice by Keigo Higashino

Sometimes there's a possibility that everything in life looks pretty straightforward. It all depends from person to person how do you want to conceive it or how do you want to go about it. But remember there's always a storm hidden behind a prolonged calm. Author Keigo Higashino in his latest book "Malice" gives the readers a situation before and after a storm which will wither out the effects completely. So what does the author has up his sleeve to trick the readers into this calming yet whammy inconsistency? Let's find out. 

Celebrated novelist Kunihiko Hidaka is found inhumanly murdered in his home. He was supposed to leave for Japan the next morning, and relocate to Vancouver. But his murdered body is found in his office – a locked room. His wife and his best friend seem have strong alibis. Police Detective Kyochiro Kaga identifies Hidaka’s best friend, Osamu Nonoguchi, at the crime scene. They were both teachers at the same public school many years ago. Kaga joined the police force and Nonoguchi became a full-time writer, although he was not as famous as Hidaka. As Kaga investigates the murder case, he unearths evidences that show that the relationship between the two writers was very different than it was known to the outsiders. Kaga must discover the truth and find out why Hidaka was murdered. Will he be able to solve the mystery?

First look at the title and the cover and the cover fails to put things in to the right perspective. It's a pale version of dry and withered tree or blossoming and botched effect of red but it doesn't seems correct. The title is a one word tragedy which defines the book and the story. It's meaning far from what it looks to be on the cover of the book. The blurb talks about a celebrated author and his murder and how simply a case turns into a nightmare for many. The blurb gives away the story but sadly that is not the case here. It just holds up and stirs up the right amount of excitement for the readers. 

The story is set in Tokyo where Hidaka a celebrated author has been found murdered in his house under mysterious circumstances. It brings forth a list of suspects including his very good friend Nonugachi and his wife too. But for Inspector Kaga all it takes is one good look at the crime scene and few possible leads to stir up a national tragedy. So how will Kaga go about it? Is it going to be a hit and miss affair or the case is going to prove a tough nut for Kaga? How much of Nonugachi and Hidaka's wife will be helpful to the case? What brought the downfall of Hidaka in the end? That's what the story is all about. 

Leniency is the mother of all the tragedy. Over-smartness the father of all the embarrassment. The story is set off in a way that it truly defines the literature and celebrates the existence of crime and thriller. The motion and chain of events which spark off the eventuality and the simplicity with which it deals with the entire drama fools the readers beyond limits. There is enough spice to set fire and enough wood to build a house in the story. It's a character driven plot and makes even the nonchalant of the details look gigantic. The microscopic factors playing the lead and driving the entire momentum. The thrust of the story is it's twist in the tale where it all stops and starts all over again. The book hardly leaves breathing space for it's readers. 

The only downside of the book is it's end which gets dragged on endlessly and becomes a dull affair. A toned down nature of the end part of the book would have helped it's cause a great deal. 

All in all it's the unlikeliest of the battles of wit and glory. Everything from personal lives to relationships to personalities is at stake in the story. Either you come out a winner or become a sore loser. It has a meaningful introspection and works rigorously hard to charm the readers. There's no holding back once the action unfolds as it hits you hard and very hard. The story is "the best" saga of modern times. 


 4 OUT OF 5   

Friday, January 9, 2015

Review: You're the Password to My Life by Sudeep Nagarkar

Strange are the beginnings and happenings of life. On the one hand, it's you who has to carve out your fate by your actions, but on the other there's few who are able to do that. Author Sudeep Nagarkar in his latest book "You're the Password to My Life" traverses a path of love and friendship where not everything is in your hand. So what it takes to milk out a not so conventional story? Let's find out. 

We all have that one person in our lives in whose absence life seems meaningless!
Virat and Kavya are like chalk and cheese. While Virat is cautious and reserved, Kavya is outgoing and likes to lead a life full of reckless fun. Despite their differences, they are thick friends and not even Mahek, the love of Virat’s life, can come in the way of that. 
But like every relationship, their friendship is put to the test when an unforeseen incident hits them. Can Aditya, along with his cousin, come to their rescue yet again? 
'You Are the Password to My Life' is a true story that shows you how true friendship is the only ‘ship’ that does not sink.

First look at the title and the cover and a reader can easily fall in love with it. It's a convincing cover with all shades i.e shades of life included in it. The title might look geeky but there's more to it than meets the eyes. The blurb talks about few people and their lives entwined to each other, Few notable mentions related to the story could have been avoided. It's good to keep the readers in dark by picking out on the curiosity factor. 

The story is of Virat, Kavya, Mahek, Rohan & Riddhima. They are not related to each other, but still they are related. Virat and Kavya are best of friends and Mahek happens to be the love interest of Virat. But it's not an easy task to woo the girl of her dreams. Kavya is the source of support for her in the dire times. On the other hand Rohan is at crossroads after his diabolical relationship with Zoya as his French teacher Riddhima happens to have a lot of interest in him. So how life will pan out for all these youngsters? How are they related to each other? That's what the story is all about. 

Friendship, love, college romance these are the necessary ingredients of a book since time immemorial. The formula with a little trickery has worked in the favor of the author most of the times. It happens to be the case here too. It helps out to bring out the best of the emotions to the readers. It relates the real life scenarios and acts as a bridge and pillar for people who are searching or pursuing such relationships. The story is flowing and the latter half throws a lot of surprises. There's substance related to love and gloom. It has a certain level of sanctity restored to the relationship factor, be it friendship or love. 

The downside of the book is it's pale first half. The colorful life of the characters not enlivens up after the initial burst. Then there's weak story line which feels jagged around the edges and succumbs to similar scenarios read time and time again. There is no definite formula to work out the chinks in the armor and the voice becomes pale till the saving grace i.e the latter half jumps in to the fray. The excessive use of SMS as a medium kills the expected bond of blossom to a certain extent. 

All in all it's not a thorough book. More of a hurried affair. It doesn't has a settled outlook. The book serves some of the expected ingredients of life right, but some of them are overcooked or under cooked. The basic recipe to love and friendship is firm but it's the way up to the top that is shaky and tends to course out few good and few dull moments. The book is a mixed affair and by the end of it parallels will be drawn from the previous works where much better finishes have given the author much to work on. A mixed affair. 


3 OUT OF 5 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Review: The Racketeer by John Grisham

Legalities are few, but loopholes are many. Nobody's perfect neither anything man-made is perfect. There's always a person who manages to evade the eventualities and lead us to believe that there's chink in the armor. Be it minor or major. It's up to the society to embrace it. Author John Grisham in his book "The Racketeer" tries to expose the judiciary and the security of the best caliber and commemorate a master mind idea in the history of thriller which will go down as the simplest and bravest gamble. So has he done enough to thrill the audiences? Let's find out.  

Given the importance of what they do, and the controversies that often surround them, and the violent people they sometimes confront, it is remarkable that in the history of this country only four active federal judges have been murdered.
Judge Raymond Fawcett has just become number five. 

Who is the Racketeer? And what does he have to do with the judge’s untimely demise? His name, for the moment, is Malcolm Bannister. Job status? Former attorney. Current residence? The Federal Prison Camp near Frostburg, Maryland.
On paper, Malcolm’s situation isn’t looking too good these days, but he’s got an ace up his sleeve. He knows who killed Judge Fawcett, and he knows why. The judge’s body was found in his remote lakeside cabin. There was no forced entry, no struggle, just two dead bodies: Judge Fawcett and his young secretary. And one large, state-of-the-art, extremely secure safe, opened and emptied.
What was in the safe? The FBI would love to know. And Malcolm Bannister would love to tell them. But everything has a price—especially information as explosive as the sequence of events that led to Judge Fawcett’s death. And the Racketeer wasn’t born yesterday . . .

First look at the title and the cover and a reader gets in with the flow of the title and the tagline. By the looks of it, there's revenge and a not so sweet one. But with whom and under what circumstances is a mystery. The blurb a lengthy one compels the readers to go through the story as there's very little to decipher behind the words. There's a lot more chaos and activity which has to be uncovered. 

The story is of system and the common man whose victim of the system and it's loopholes. He is languishing in a prison, a brilliant lawyer, yet suffering at the hands of fate. Amidst all this, a federal judge and his secretary are found murdered in a lone cabin among the hills and woods and there's no clue as to what happened to both of them. FBI is at loss of words without any possible leads. But there's one man who is somewhere out there to help them. So what will happen to the case? Will all the theories be put to rest? Who will hit pay-dirt and who will get payback? What's in it for the stranger? Will it be chaos or will it pass under the bridge all very silent? That's what the story is all about. 

When there's a will, there's a way. The quote appropriately fits the bill. The story is about fighting odds and regaining lost pride. It's about payback and it's about being methodical. It's an execution not in the executioner style, but a very pure, electrifying and unnerving method. A lot goes in the story and there's a whiff of calm and there's a barrage of storm which hits with ease and blows away the sails and mast of the steadiest of the ships. The cat and mouse game in the story becomes utmost pivotal to lay the foundation of the end. The book flows and unsettles with technicalities and serene approach. It's a nightmare for the readers as it digs deep and twists hard to flutter the wings completely. 

The only downside of the book is it's underdeveloped scene for the FBI. Their role is equally important, yet it fails to deliver the exact harsh realities. It rather succumbs to the whims and fancies of the other side which is quite annoying. One sided affairs are a little bit hard to digest and it could have been turn into a two way traffic as both sides would have been manage to score an edge of the seat thriller. 

The book is a fool's game. It baffles with its deliverance and masterfully strokes the ball in the readers court. There's plenty of drama and suspense to savor for a lifetime. It's an art and a piece of craft which will languish in the minds till eternity. It's simple, yet hard hitting methods to deal with legal aspects and thriller aspects are astounding. A delight for the eyes and glory which is hard to come by, yet falls in the lap like god's blessed child. 


4 OUT OF 5

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Review: Temple of the Gods by Andy Mcdermott (Wilde & Chase, #8)

Atlantis and it's whereabouts have always been a curious case for the taking. Not to forget the long lost excavations, the urban legends and the buried myths associated with the city. Author Andy Mcdermott in his book "The Temple of the Gods" takes on the wild chase with Wilde & Chase respectively to uncover the mystery behind Atlantis. So will Atlantis be courteous or will it lure away the readers? Let's find out. 

Nina Wilde’s life is falling apart. The archaeologist’s husband Eddie Chase is falsely accused of murder. The ex-SAS soldier is on the run while Nina searches for the origin of three strange statues stolen from her before Eddie’s disappearance. She begins to suspect that they are related to the lost civilization of Atlantis, she realizes that this is bigger than she expected. Eddie seeks the help of a mysterious benefactor, but this puts him in direct conflict with his wife’s own search. Nina heads to Japan to meet an industrialist who has gotten his hands on the statues through the black market. She doesn't know that Eddie is already on his way. When they meet, they will begin a chain reaction that will have devastating consequences for the world.

First look at the title and the book and one can associate history with the ruins and remains in the cover image. The title speaks volumes about the book. The blurb talks about Wilde & Chase's latest exploits and the pains to be in tune with the latest developments. The blurb is a scarce source of what to expect out of the humongous book. It really veils the original purpose. 

The story is the latest adventure of Wilde & Chase where both of them are victims of circumstances. Eddie's on the run and Nina's maintaining a fake calm. The object of headache is by far the most alluring mysteries of the Atlantis excavation. But there is repulsion from unknown quarters and soon they are mixed amidst action where it all comes down to life and death. So is Atlantis playing mind games with the duo? Will they be able to repel the rebels? Will there be glory or free fall? 

The duo returns and returns to blind spots. There's purpose, but there's no clarity, there's mystery yet it entails them on a rough path of obscurity and there's blood and past involved but it keeps them at bay. The ruthless action, suspense and unforgiving enemies forge the climb of the famous duo. The book promises historical revelations with Atlantis at the forefront and in a manner of speaking delivers some juicy insights too. The book at length goes on the turn into an action adventure, which executes the bulk of the story in a flash. There's a methodical dissertation of the story line drawing from the past, present and the future which convenes the imaginative brutal journey. The drama is at hilt which is never short of madness. 

The downside of the book is it's personal vendetta becomes a primary driver for the plot which leads to scarcity in the historical angle. Atlantis and it's mentions go missing in the middle portions of the book. A lot of unnecessary action eats out the meaty chunks and leaves scarred impressions. The book could have been toned down by a 100 pages to make it more meaningful rather than going in for filmy showdowns. 

All in all the book is a mixed bag. An adventure with unsettling history is promised, but the promise is not kept in the long run. There's a certain precision with action which is exciting but there's a pale historical revelation which mars the entire hype and hoopla. It builds and sustains momentum for most of the part but it fails to reproach the correct track when needed to. It's not an entirely hate story, has some measure of sense yet far away from glory. 


3 OUT OF 5