A first-time author who goes by the unassuming name of Robert Galbraith comes out with a mystery novel called The Cuckoo’s Calling. The book receives...moreA first-time author who goes by the unassuming name of Robert Galbraith comes out with a mystery novel called The Cuckoo’s Calling. The book receives favourable reviews and is wholeheartedly accepted by the fraction of the populace that reads it.
And then (and this I borrow from reliable old Wikipedia), the Sunday Times scratches it’s stubbly chin and wonders how a first-time author with a background in the army and the civilian security industry, could write such an assured debut novel.
So, after much sleuthing and an inquisitive:
followed by a generous bit of loose lips launching the Queen Ship, it was revealed that Robert Galbraith was in fact J.K.Rowling.
I could almost imagine Tom Riddle’s wand swishing blood-red, curlicue letters in the air:
*Robert Galbraith is J.K.Rowling* *J.K.Rowling is Robert Galbraith*
Ofcourse, all hell promptly broke loose after that.
(I am also pretty sure that Madame Rowling went Loki-at- Comic-Con in the privacy of her tastefully done up living room)
For me, laying my hands on the book (courtesy, the best Hufflepuff in the magical and muggle world, Mith) was nothing short of the Almighty smiling benevolently down at me with a new commandment :
Thou shalt read the new Rowling tablet. Forsaking all others, thou shalt not stir till thou has reached ye last page. Thou shalt be rewarded for thy loyalty
And believe me, it was a wholly rewarding experience.
---------------------------- SYNOPSIS: Super-Model Lula Landry has plunged to her death from her posh Mayfair balcony. While the media has pegged it down as a suicide by a troubled star, her half-brother is convinced that she has been killed. And so, he hires Cormoran Strike, a down-on-his-luck detective to investigate the case. As Strike, aided by his new (albeit temporary) secretary, Robin; gathers clues, gets sidetracked and traverses the length and breadth of London to unravel the truth…he faces his own demons and realizes that things can get really ugly, really fast. ----------------------------
REVIEW: The Cuckoo’s Calling is a delightfully straightforward murder mystery. And at it’s helm is the equally delightful Cormoran Strike. Cormoran is not your conventionally good-looking, lit-cheroot-hanging-seductively-from-his-lower lip, lady-slaying Private Eye. He is a massive, rugby-player sized man, not-so-easy-on-the-eye and burdened with a prosthetic leg (Mad-Eye Moody lives?), a vindictive ex, a grimy family background and dire finances. But, hell’s bells, he is plain out adorable. His innate decency, his blustering efforts to not sully the sexual waters with his attractive new secretary, his attention to detail and his flashes of vulnerability make him a well-rounded main lead. He is not a fabulously perfect hero and so I have the biggest crush on him. And therefore, if the book translates into a movie (please, please, please), I would fervently hope that Nathan Fillion would fill Cormoron’s shoes. I mean yes, Fillion is a dreamboat, but he has the whole clumsy-yet-suave air down to a tee and we have already seen how perfectly adequate he looks, cast as a film noir detective in CASTLE’s The Blue Butterfly. I mean, look at him:
Coming to Cormoran’s new secretary, Robin…she is an absolute star. Robin is freshly engaged to a very proper young man and is gooey-eyed enough to settle for a two point five existence. But she craves excitement. Not the sordid excitement of a secret fling but the childish glee of solving a mysterious mystery. And she’s the perfect foil to Cormoron’s elegant hippo act. Infact, with her strawberry blonde hair and her transparent need to "Run with the Doctor Detective", she reminded me of Amy Pond:
Will love transpire between Robin and Cormoran? If it does, I, for one, will be knitting booties for their bonnie babies.
The Supporting cast of characters is rich and varied. I loved each one of them. From the coke-snorting Tansy to the meticulous security man to the slightly unhinged half-brother to the wolf-masking wearing boyfriend (and prime suspect) to the ego-boosting Ciara Porter to the larger than life rapper to the maliciously camp designer; I loved all their character profiles. Everyone had a solid role to play and everyone was infinitely readable. Minion kisses for all:
For all the Britophiles out there, this is a treat. Modern day London effectively wears the garb of a smoky 1940s lamplit whodunnit. You are utterly charmed and steadily soak in the atmosphere like a comforting soak in a hot tub.
As for the pace of the plot, it is slow and steady. There are no cliff hangers (the staple of mystery novels) at the end of each chapter. There are no high-octane moments. There are no unexpected plot twists. And yet, you carry on. Your interest never wanes. The story builds up steadily, from a strong skeleton to a steady fleshing out of detail coupled with a handful of sinews worked in with precision and finally, the end result is a fully functioning thriller.
The story is no great shakes. If you have been a mystery enthusiast, you will figure out the baddie pretty soon. But the joy of reading a good crime novel is to rub your hands in glee as you poke your head over the long-suffering detective’s shoulder and go, in your head, “Ooh, ohh…I KNEW IT!”
Rowling’s writing is flawless, witty and generously peppered with some choice abuses. Ron Weasley would approve. Her skill is strong as ever and shorn of any pretensions. Her observations on human fallacies are uncomfortably accurate. She holds, what could be a rambling storyline together, purely on the strength of her intuitive grasp on her characters' emotions.
At the end of the day, she justifies her right to the Writing Throne.
"Abandon hope all ye who enter here" ~ Dante's Divine Comedy.
(Oh, Mr.Brown...the irony and the accuracy) ---------------------------------------------...more"Abandon hope all ye who enter here" ~ Dante's Divine Comedy.
(Oh, Mr.Brown...the irony and the accuracy) ----------------------------------------------------
The last Dan Brown novel that I recall reading and enjoying to the hilt was Angels & Demons. So, when I proudly hefted his new tome INFERNO home from the book store, I was all:
And then, barely twenty pages had passed by and my buoyant emotions pretty much went The Little Mermaid Way:
The author has decided to morph into a dry-as-day-old-bread version of Wikipedia. And also, into a closet tourist guide - a tourist guide who will bore the sweaty and itchy tourists into a rigid stupor as he drones on, ad nauseum, about every gilt-edged pillar and every conspiracy-ridden niche that the museums of Italy seem to be overflowing with.
And might I add that the plot was non-existent. So my reaction at the complete absence of a storyline began at a mild:
laboured along at a steady:
and eventually escalated into a full-blown:
But wait, there was more…
200 Pages on and we are still sifting through a sea of unnecessary facts, vapid musings of the characters and brick-by-brick descriptions of Italy’s hotspots. And still, no plot.
I am getting a tad snitty and mighty snotty now, Mr.Brown. Take it from here, Miss.Pony:
I’m trying to keep an open mind. I’m trying to remember that one day, I will write a book and I will not want reviewers to tear it to soul-destroying shreds. I remind myself that Dan Brown is an articulate man with a brilliant mind.
But a description of Gondolas? Which, for the record, wasn't essential to the plot. REALLY, Mr.Brown?!?
AND, if I have to hear about the Provost’s deeply tanned face or his sun drenched visage one more time:
And then, a faint glimmer of hope. THE PLOT! It exists! It’s alive!!
But wait, I spoke too soon.
What you saw and read and believed is NOT what you saw and read and believed. Yes, big shock there, Prof.Langdon.
On a parallel (but seemingly wholly unrelated) note, is the plot progressing?
Nope. No sir. Not at all. It’s just more pages of lectures and descriptions and yes, lectures.
Stop it, Mr.Brown! Stop it. Please. I am getting big imaginary welts on my forehead with all these big imaginary medieval *headdesks*
It’s not right. I want to stop. But I have paid a third-cousin-twice-removed-duke’s ransom for this book.
I must finish it. I must. I will see the promised land.
But it’s a lonely path. And it’s dark.
Why is it not ending?
Mr.Brown. STOP. Please.
For the love of Angels & Demons, STOP.
and... oh look, I'm done.
Deep in my heart, having emerged from INFERNO with my wallet lighter, my head throbbing and my spirit chafed, I only have to say this:
---------------------------------------------------- To summarize, I broke my rule of writing scathing reviews because: a) An interesting premise could have avoided a long and messy demise, had the book been 200 pages long. 200 pages. Not 400 agonizing, brain-numbing pages long.
b) Reputed and respected Prof.Langdon is facing what could probably be the biggest catastrophe of his life. And his reactions? Dry chuckles. Startled asides. The occasional uppity smirk. Kristen Stewart. Rejoice. YOU have more expressions than Robert Langdon.
c) Sienna Brooks was a huge disappointment. And really, were her actions justified? I think not. Prof.Langdon, stop acting all noble and understanding. You just want to, excuse the crudeness, get into her pants. (less)
Yesterday I read Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows for what seemed like the gazillionth time. I didn’t want to write a review. Again. It’s been do...moreYesterday I read Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows for what seemed like the gazillionth time. I didn’t want to write a review. Again. It’s been done and it was a gushing, brimming with love and adulation write-up. Today, I just wanted to make a mini-keepsake. A little something for all my Potterhead friends. Something that encapsulated all the key moments in the books...moments that moved me...moments that made me smirk gleefully..moments that broke my heart (in a nice way, if that’s even possible). So here goes: ——————————————————————————————-
MOMENT #1: ‘I don’t think you’re a waste of space.’
MOMENT #2: “Are you planning to follow a career in Magical Law, Miss Granger?’ asked Scrimgeour. ‘No I’m not,’ retorted Hermione. ‘I’m hoping to do some good in the world!’
MOMENT #3: On this spot, on the night of 31 October 1981, Lily and James Potter lost their lives. Their son, Harry, remains the only wizard ever to have survived the Killing Curse. This house, invisible to Muggles, has been left in it’s ruined state as a monument to the Potters and as a reminder of the violence that tore apart their family.
MOMENT #4: RON:’He knew what he was doing when he gave me the Deluminator, didn’t he? He - well, he must’ve known I’d run out on you.’ HARRY:’No, he must’ve known that you’d always want to come back.'
Moment #5: ‘Dobby has no master!’ squealed the elf. ‘Dobby is a free elf, and Dobby has come to save Harry Potter and his friends!’
Moment #6: Here lies Dobby, a Free Elf.
Moment #7: ‘The wand chooses the wizard,’ said Ollivander.
Moment #8: ‘PIERTOTUM LOCOMOTOR!’ And all along the corridor the statues and suits of armour jumped down from their plinths, and from the echoing crashes from the floors above and below, Harry knew that their fellows throughout the castle had done the same. ‘Hogwarts is threatened! Man the boundaries, protect us, do your duty to our school!’
Moment #9: ‘No,’ said Ron seriously, ’ I mean we should tell them to get out. We don’t want any more Dobbys, do we? We can’t order them to die for us -‘
There was a clatter as the Basilisk fangs cascaded out of Hermione’s arms. Running at Ron, she flung them around his neck and kissed him full on the mouth.
Moment #10: And Percy was shaking his brother, and Ron was kneeling beside them, and Fred’s eyes stared without seeing, the ghost of his last laugh still etched upon his face.
Moment #11: - CHAPTER THIRTY-THREE - The Prince’s Tale
Moment #12: ‘Have you grown to care for the boy, after all?’ ‘For him?’ shouted Snape. ‘Expecto Patronum!’ From the tip of his wand burst the silver doe:she landed on the office floor, bounded once across the office and soared out of the window. Dumbledore watched her fly away, and as her silvery glow faded he turned back to Snape, and his eyes were full of tears. ‘After all this time?’ Always,’ said Snape.
Moment #13: ‘You’ll stay with me?’ ‘Until the very end,’
Moment #14: ‘Tell me one last thing,’ said Harry. ‘Is this real? Or has this been happening inside my head?’
‘Ofcourse it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?’
Moment #15: ‘He is dead!’ Narcissa Malfoy called to the watchers.
Moment #16: ‘I’ll join you when hell freezes over,’ said Neville. ‘Dumbledore’s Army!’ he shouted.
Moment #17: ‘NOT MY DAUGHTER, YOU BITCH!’
Moment #18: ‘Avada Kedavra!’ ‘Expelliarmus!’
Moment #19: (…and I liked the fact that it was appropriately enough, the 19th moment) The scar had not pained Harry for nineteen years. All was well.
To have a slight measure of the pleasant chills that race up and down your spine when you delve into a meaty Holmes mystery, do read the introduction...moreTo have a slight measure of the pleasant chills that race up and down your spine when you delve into a meaty Holmes mystery, do read the introduction passage by Mark Gatiss (co-creator of BBC Entertainment’s Sherlock). Amidst a host of admirable emotions, Gatiss’ one nostalgic paragraph captured my fancy.
It goes thusly,
“I’d never read any of the original stories until one fateful Saturday when, recovering from German measles, I was given a treat : a trip to WH Smith, and the purchase of any book I wanted. There, nestling amongst all the possible contenders for my shiny fifty-pence piece was a gorgeous, plump, purple Pan paperback, with a colour-tinted Sidney Paget illustration on the cover: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Everything about it promised the thrill of mystery and the faintly queasy allure of Victoriana with which I was already and headily in love. But first came the introduction. I can’t remember much about it now, except that it ended with the moving sentiment: I wish I were reading these stories for the first time.“
*I wish I were reading these stories for the first time*
Never has a statement so effectively captured the sheer bliss of nose-diving into an old and much cherished spot of literature. What prompted me to revisit the series was BBC Entertainment’s hugely popular and marvellously brilliant show : *SHERLOCK*. A fellow fan, sharp reviewer and possessor of the prodigious talent to pick the perfect book (Yes, Mith....I am talking about you) and yours truly were jamming up our Tumblr dashboards with the magnificence of a certain Mr. Benedict Cumberbatch. Said Cumberbatch has done a splendid job of yanking Mr.Holmes into modern day London and playing him with aplomb. It doesn’t hurt that he’s very easy on the eyes too.
Ergo, when Cumberbatch (he of the cupid curls, vertiginous cheekbones and manic eye-glint) with his trusty bro-mate, Watson (Martin Freeman) graced the cover of yet another Sherlock edition, I had to lay my hands on it. All the foaming-at-the-mouth fans (and I mean that in the nicest way possible since I unashamedly head the pack) can be forgiven for labouring under the misconception that this book here, is a TV Series adaptation. It’s not.
Sadly...well, not really (because, *KNOCK KNOCK*, it’s Sherlock Holmes, the O.R.I.G.I.N.A.L.)...the book is a reprint of the twelve original mysteries as written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. So when Holmes is not marvelling over the cleverness of Irene Adler, he’s scratching his head over the sudden collapse of the Red-Haired League. Whether it’s the trivial case of the Blue Carbuncle or the horrifying finale of the Speckled Band, Holmes is striding about with a befuddled Watson in tow. Dignities are being restored....genteel ladies are being chivalrously rescued.....and pages are being fraught with drama, deceit and old-fashioned danger. In short, everything that you would expect from the most famous detective of all fictional times.
What could I write in my review that would add anything new to the reams that have been dedicated to the snarkiest sleuth of them all? How do I delve into a character that’s a delightful blend of humility and egotism? How do I gush and fawn over a mind that could dissect an individual down to the tiniest speck of dust on the tip of his frock-coat?
From the moment a knock falls at the door of 221B Baker Street, you know that you are in for a treat. From the pithy to the sensational, no case escaped the interest of Holmes and his partner in crime-solving, Dr.Watson. Holmes would settle down before the roaring fireplace, light his pipe, give the despairing individual a clinical onceover, draw his (almost always correct)conclusions and then just as quickly, proceed to unravel mysteries on the strength of observation, infallible logic and that essential spark of genius cloaked in eccentricities.
In the times of darkly dreaming Dexter and stiletto wearing Detective Kate Beckett, Holmes may pale in comparison. And then again....maybe he won’t. In the cold of Victorian London, amidst the ladies who sniffed into their lacy kerchiefs and the gentleman who blustered around in their breeches, Holmes cut a dashing figure. With his dry wit and baffling disguises, he plundered the murky underbelly (ah, how I love my clichés) of crime, and almost always got his man/woman/murderous cult.
Yes, we love our modern day detective-dramas and high-octane police chases. We love the forensics lab with it’s meticulously laid out tools. We love the fact that a well-worded Google search might just catch that horrendous serial killer by the end of the one hour episode.
But, as Steven Moffat (co-creator of BBC Entertainment’s Sherlock) puts it:
"Conan Doyle's stories were never about frock coats and gas light; they're about brilliant detection, dreadful villains and blood-curdling crimes – and frankly, to hell with the crinoline. Other detectives have cases, Sherlock Holmes has adventures, and that's what matters."
Katniss Everdeen; dystopian teen-heroine extraordinaire won The Hunger Games. She also managed to save the life of fellow district Tribute, Peeta Mell...moreKatniss Everdeen; dystopian teen-heroine extraordinaire won The Hunger Games. She also managed to save the life of fellow district Tribute, Peeta Mellark and stick one in the eye of the sadistic Capitol. Never in the history of the fiendish Games have there been two winners. But Katniss, with her now famous “poisonous-berries” moment achieved the impossible and had The Capitol impotent with fury.
While Katniss and Peeta should now be enjoying the life of well-deserved luxury, they soon learn that rebellious gestures cannot go unpunished. President Snow is convinced that the grand Katniss-Peeta Love Story is a sham and he’s waiting for Katniss to trip and make that one fatal misstep. If Katniss intends to keep her family, Gale, Peeta and the rest of her district-folk alive, she has to pitch in an Oscar-worthy performance.
But the scent of rebellion lies heavy in the air. Unbeknownst to her, Katniss’ grand gesture has sped up the flickering flame of hope in the people of Panem. In varying districts, the sufferers are rising up…ready to take on The Capitol and it’s ruthless regime. And for this, Katniss has to pay…In a cruel and unforeseen twist in the gut, Katniss and Peeta find themselves smack-dab in the middle of The Games yet again.
Catching Fire is a pacy sequel to The Hunger Games. While it does tend to plod and hop along in the first half, the second half hits you like a punch in the gut with a burst of adrenaline. Survival, despair, improbable decisions weigh heavily on Katniss as she fights it out yet again in the arena of the Games. Suzanne Collins has the ability to make you empathize with a beautiful, talented teenage-girl who has two handsome and worthy boys waiting in the wings for her. Never at any point do you resent Katniss for all that is being offered on her plate, because just as quickly you realize that there’s a softly softly catchee monkey hand waiting to snatch it all away.
In all, the book is a worthy middle-child of the trilogy. Collins keeps the action constant, drops in a few startling surprises and leaves you with a truly frustrating cliff hanger.
Kudos to her for getting it right, yet again (less)
I watched the much touted, eagerly anticipated, feverishly fanshipped ‘The Hunger Games’ yesterday.
I liked the book better. (Although, Lenny Kravitz as...moreI watched the much touted, eagerly anticipated, feverishly fanshipped ‘The Hunger Games’ yesterday.
I liked the book better. (Although, Lenny Kravitz as Cinna (oh-he-of-the-gravelly-voice-and-understated-gold-eyeliner did soothe my soul)
And so, I feel the need to dig out my ancient review on the book and give it a good spit-shine. Here goes... -------------------------------------------------------------
In post-apocalyptic North America, lies a dystopian nation called Panem. Panem, ruled by the autocratic CAPITOL, is surrounded by 12 Districts. The CAPITOL wields a sadistic whip over the surrounding Districts by forcing them to send in one boy and one girl (between the ages of 12-18) to participate in the annual Hunger Games. The Hunger Games is *the reality show* to end all reality-shows. Each of the 12 contenders or Tributes as they are called, train for a week and then head off into an outdoor arena where they fight to the death. At the end, only one Tribute must survive. These macabre games are a nationally televised event and viewing is compulsory.
Sixteen year old Katniss Everdeen becomes one such contender when she takes the place of her little sister, Prim. Despite having been a hunter all her life, Katniss will now have to bring forth all her survival skills to battle it out in the arena. What makes The Hunger Games particularly poignant is that none of the contestants are truly enemies. They are just a bunch of hapless and at times, completely helpless children thrown into a vicious trap. Elements of surprise, brutality, treachery and hidden brute strength are mostly reluctant weapons to be employed against one another. The CAPITOL plays puppet-master with relish. And has a cruel streak that is a mile wide. In true blue Reality Show tradition, the master card of LOVE is thrown in to titillate the viewers, tempt the sponsors and spice up general proceedings. Katniss and Peeta Mellark (her fellow male contender from District 12) are instructed to play star-crossed lovers...lovers who know that there can only be one survivor in the end...One Survivor...One Winner.
Soon it is upto the tragically painted duo to employ all the mental, physical and emotional skills in their arsenal as they fight for survival. One shining Victor must emerge. And he/she will bring glory to his/her district and earn the lifetime reward of never having to experience debilitating poverty ever again. -------------------------------------------------------------
Being nauseatingly cheery by nature, I tend to steer away from genres that reek of depression and angst. But I wanted to know if The Hunger Games lived up to it’s boastful press.
I come away with the immense satisfaction of nodding my head feverishly and yelling a resounding
Katniss Everdeen makes a splendid main-lead. Her character portfolio exhibits an admirable listing of puckish beauty, skill, courage, innate kindness and the ability to get the grey-cells churning in dire situations. Love interests, Peeta and Gale lay the foundation for a eagerly followed love triangle.
The author, Suzanne Collins is the Obi-Wan Kenobi of her craft. First she blankets you with the depression of a hopeless Panem. Then she lures you in with the premise of a power-play masquerading as a Reality Show. Finally, she knits in so many loopholes, that you are left gasping with disbelief. AND just when, with the misplaced pomposity of a long-time reader, you second-guess the climax and tie up all the lose threads in your head...
She punches you in the solar-plexus with a fabulous ending/ cliff-hanger.(less)
As a friend very rightly put it…’A Prisoner of Birth’ has all the makings of a Bollywood Masala Movie.
Danny Cartwright, a humble East-End mechanic has...moreAs a friend very rightly put it…’A Prisoner of Birth’ has all the makings of a Bollywood Masala Movie.
Danny Cartwright, a humble East-End mechanic has just proposed to his childhood sweet heart Beth. He decides to celebrate by treating his fiancée and best-friend Bernie Wilson (who also happens to be Beth’s brother) at an upmarket bar ‘The Dunlop Arms’. Also present at the bar, are a drunken party of four men, who started passing lewd comments at Beth and raise Bernie’s ire. Despite Danny’s protests, the two parties decide to take the fight out into a back-alley..and what follows is something that changes Danny’s life forever.
Danny is charged with the murder of Bernie……a crime he never committed. Despite the best efforts of his able lawyer, the young and relatively untried Alex Redmayne ……Danny is sentenced to twenty-two years at the maximum-security Belmarsh Prison. After all who would take the word of a grubby mechanic over a stalwart quartet of an upcoming barrister, a leading actor, a member of the aristocrat and the youngest partner of an established firm?
Danny’s long sentence is made bearable due to his two cell mates: Sir Nicholas Moncrieff, who looks and behaves more like an officer than an inmate. And running-more-true-to-form, the rough and rugged, heavily-built Big Al. Nicholas bears a startling resemblance to Danny and herein lies the crux. When Nick is accidentally murdered, just a few weeks before his release…Danny (with careful mechanisations by Big Al) walks out a free man…as Nicholas Moncrieff. "Act like Nick.Think like Danny." Constantly keeping this in mind……Danny launches into an intricate and well-planned revenge.
A page-turner with certain implausible points. Look-alike Nicholas Moncrieff seemed to be aware from the beginning that his identity was for the sole-purpose of being used to prove Danny’s innocence. He trained him in all the niceties and etiquettes which a Moncrieff should exhibit in genteel society. He educated Danny and even conveniently maintained well-transcribed diaries which proved to be valuable evidence in the later trials. A post-Belmarsh Danny appears to lead a charmed life. All the people he hopes to have on his side, unflinchingly accept that he is indeed Sir Nicholas Moncrieff, never once cross-checking the fact.
While Danny Cartwright is a likeable hero, his transformation from the wronged East-Ender to a polished and articulate businessman is a little too good to be true.
At the end of the day, I enjoyed the cast of supporting characters: Big Al, Alex Redmayne’s father; rt. Hon. Sir Matthew Redmayne KCMG QC, who handles Danny’s case in the end…and ofcourse, the wise Scottish solicitor Mr.Fraser Munro.
I particularly liked the miniscule speech Mr.Munro gives towards the end of his testimony: “I have discovered with advancing years that few things are entirely black or white, but more often different shades of grey. I can best sum it up, My Lord, by saying that it was an honour to have served Sir Nicholas Moncrieff and it has been a privilege to work with Mr.Cartwright. They are both oaks, even if they were planted in different forests. But then, m’lord, we all suffer in our different ways from being prisoners of birth”.
In all, an interesting saga with an Indian tadka...