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review 2014-12-05 12:48
Roman Blood by Steven Saylor
Roman Blood - Steven Saylor,Scott Harrison

Gordianus, who is also called the Finder is called upon by Cicero, the famed Roman orator and lawyer to take up the historical case of the parricide of Sextus Roscius. Gordianus accepts the case and starts looking for the truth, immediately seeing that the seemingly simple case is not simple at all. Threatened and laid off the case, he still digs for the truth, as the book moves towards a great finish.
The main problem I face while reading a Historical Whodunnit is that many a times the History overshadows the Crime and its solution. This book was not written that way. Saylor kept enough amount of history to make keep the ambience intact, and the reader interested in the historical perspective, he even used actual Historical figures, but throughout the book never did I once forget the fact that ultimately I am reading a piece of crime fiction, set in Ancient times. Throughout the book Saylor maintained the tense atmosphere of a crime novel, where the protagonist searches for an elusive truth, while being physically in danger and the characters around him either adds to the puzzle or helps him solve the puzzle.
Gordianus came out as a normal man, without any extra ordinary straits like extreme unhygienic or mood swings like a cricket ball. He is a normal man, with normal tastes and attributes. Though for a Roman his attitude towards his slave was too human to be true. But I guess he was one of those EXCEPTIONS back then who saw slaves as humans too.
A definitely enjoyable piece of crime fiction. Will surely read the rest of the books as the time moves on.

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review 2014-10-24 10:56
Vanished: David Raker Novel #3 by Weaver, Tim (2012) Paperback - Tim Weaver

5 stars

Tim Weaver is a name I had never heard before, but now that I have finished reading VANISHED its hard to make his name vanish from my mind, because he weaves great tales of crime and he writes then in a way which makes them fast and entertaining. David Raker, a London based P.I. specialising in finding missing person takes up a case where he is asked to find a missing husband.

The basic plot wasn’t anything new, but the writing style, the suspense created and the smooth flow of the plot made the reading experience something to cherish. Weaver’s creation David Raker, though a widower, is not gloomy and grumpy and has a social life. A breath of fresh air among the many and clichéd gloomy protagonists.

The plot if anything was simple, but the presentation and the ending with a twist that would go down as one of my most favourite twist, is a real pleasure. He keeps the book fast and literally turns this book into a page turner. Though this is my first Tim Weaver book, I am sure it won’t be the last one.

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review 2014-09-22 09:31
The Monogram Murders - Julian Rhind-Tutt,Agatha Christie,Sophie Hannah

Re-incarnations of detectives in hands of a different author seldom succeeds, except in the case of Holmes, but that was possible maybe because the reincarnator was Sir Doyle himself. But, apart from that exception re-incarnations are meant to be not as successful as the original. The stories of limited success are limitless. Take James Bond, John Gradener or Jeffrey Deaver, the books still didn’t read like a Fleming Bond. Recently Asterix suffered the same fate. Yes, the return of our favourite heroes albeit does keep us hooked, but, at the end of the day neither those books nor The Monogram Murders left me with a satisfied smile.

First lets dissect the book purely as a crime thriller. On that point the book would score 3 or 3.5. I love twists, no doubt about that. But nothing tastes good when it is heaped upon a reader without any limit. The number of twists in this book got to me. By the end of the book they didn’t seem like twists at all. A definite case of trying too hard. The plot seemed a bit awkward. I cant put my finger on it, but somehow this was definitely not an EVIL UNDER THE SUN, not even a HICKORY DICKORY DOCK. The plot never slowed down, it was fast, but sometimes it got too fast to really comprehend what was going on. But at the end of the day, the twists of the double plot, and the solution at the end turned this book into a decent crime thriller. There were no pretensions, and though the solving of the crime was left to some circumstantial evidences, the ending was neat.

Now as far as the book goes as a Hercule Poirot novel, the book scores a big ZERO for me. I don’t know why, but this Poirot never felt like the Poirot I had read before. But it didn’t started that way, the man was getting into the Poirot shoes when suddenly the character became an impersonator instead of the real egg shaped Belgian. No, this man is definitely not the HP I knew. And somehow Catchpool, really didnt fit my idea of Hastings. I rather hoped that Hannah would bring back Hastings along with HP in this book.

Lastly, I respect Sophie Hannah. This was not an easy task. Not only did she have to churn out a twister but she also had to re-create the famous Hercule Poirot. Not every venture succeeds but a courageous move should be saluted. So, I salute Ms. Hannah for trying to bring back my favourite detective to me. Though I might not have enjoyed as much as I would have like to, I would still not lose hope. Maybe the second book, if there is any, will bring back the old Poirot I knew.

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review 2014-06-24 14:09
Strike strikes again!!!
The Silkworm - Robert Galbraith

When Val McDermid reviewed the first Robert Galbraith novel, she praised the book saying that it incorporated the best of the traditional mystery fiction and private-eye pace. The first one was good, but the second one was prone to get bogged by the “Second Book Syndrome” But nothing as such happened. Cormoran Strike, professionally busy and more famous after solving the Lula Landry case, gets a visit from a lady who wants her writer husband found. She needs him for the daily expenses, and also needs him for their daughter who is distraught without him.


The book was long. A bit too long for the kind of plot it featured, but thanks to the style of narration the process of reading it never seemed boring. Most long crime novels falls into the trap of over emphasizing the human psychology, the relations between the characters and other stuff which doesn’t help the plot a bit. Galbraith did incorporate these “human” layers in the book, like the relation between Robin and her fiancé Matthew, or the strange but enjoyable relation between her and Strike (wonder where that will go in the next book), but they never got out of hand, and came in the way of the plot. Every time I felt that maybe the conversation between the two characters is getting long enough, the writer presented me with a scene which bears a direct relation to the main plot. Page skipping was not an issue with this book. The plot, though nothing ground breaking was stable and the ending was done in a way that the crime doesn’t get solved through circumstantial evidence. The common plot and motive, and the length of the book could have made the whole thing boring, but the pace and non-deviation from the main plot turned it into a highly enjoyable piece of crime fiction. And the crime described was awesome. If the Nordic writer thought that they could be gory and brutal, then they do have a serious competitor here.


The characters were well drawn but again keeping in mind the nature of the book which is ultimately a crime novel, these developments were shown through the actions of the characters. They never made me yawn and ponder whether this book is a crime novel or a class in character development. Page long description of characters and chandeliers ala P.D. James style was never my cup of tea. The way they spoke, or the way they acted spelled out whether they are a bully or they are in awe of themselves. Even the description of the victim’s daughter was done through a series of dialogues and scenes where Strike and Robin tries to question her for clues. The description was potent enough to be heart-breaking.


The main point is, J.K. Rowling CAN WRITE. She has proved it over and over again. The Potter maniacs will vouch for that, the people who love the process of filling up the casual vacancy would vouch for that, and now us crime fanatics would vouch for that too. So, there was never any doubt that these books featuring strike would be anything but good. Yes, I did have a sense of anxiety as to how she will handle the plotting, but with these two books she has really laid my fears to rest.



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review 2014-05-23 10:54
Not as good as I wanted it to be!!!
A Quiet Flame: A Bernie Gunther Novel - Philip Kerr

Some books are never meant to be happy. Although in a Crime novel the outcome, most of the time, provides a solution to a crime, and brings a criminal to justice, but often it also leaves the reader with sadness. Either connected to a character, or to the general atmosphere created by the book. A QUIET FLAME by Phillip Kerr left me sad, and on both the counts of character and atmosphere. The book dealt with a theme which was dark from the very beginning. A case involving disappearance of missing girls is dark enough, but when this whole nasty business is coupled with a the Nazi pogrom of massacring Jews, and the infamous but never acknowledged Directive 11 as promoted by Juan Peron of Argentina the book becomes a ride, which not makes the reader uneasy but leaves him with a sadness. At least it left me sad.


But, if judged from a POV of a crime novel, this book can be called mediocre at its best. The atmosphere was electric, the way Kerr jumped between Berlin and Buenos Aires was impressive. The fear, the uncertainty and the hatred portrayed by his words that were present during the 1930s, as the Nazis are on the verge of gaining power was very potent. But sadly, although these may add to the general feeling of a crime novel but it can never substitute the real plot. If the plot is shallow then no amount of Nazi, Peron or Argentina can save the book and that’s what happened for me with this book. Bernie Gunther as a protagonist had the right mix of skepticism and quick wit, but even he with his smart mouth wasn’t good enough to salvage the plot.


The plot when it started had great expectations oozing from it. It had the quality of a plot which starts with a bizarre crime and ends with a solution and motive equally bizarre and believable. But here, somewhere in between numerous jumps between periods, and more than enough characters, with one overlapping the other the plot lost its fizz. And the ending, or the part of it when it arrived almost went past me, before I realised that I had just read one solution to one of the subplots. And then the act of joining one subplot to the other and connecting the solutions to both through a single character was once again equally bad. It spoke of huge amount of coincidence. And I don’t like much coincidence in my crime novels.


On its own this book would get 2 stars out of 5. But, as I said the side dishes of atmosphere and history was very tasty, on an average I upped my rating to a 3 star.

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