contemporary fiction

Review: Goodbye Freddie Mercury

11:15:00 AM

Goodbye Freddie Mercury Goodbye Freddie Mercury by Nadia Akbar
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars



Goodbye Freddie Mercury is sort of coming to senses kind of book. The story narrates the life and thoughts of a section of people living in Lahore with a backdrop setting of the general elections and a new leader emerging. Lahore comes to life in the book and the author has a nostalgic and affectionate way of writing about the life in Lahore and it's various streets and cultural nuances. Thats a delight to read and you feel that city is what rules the story among all the cast and characters. And that is what really keeps the book moving for me. There is a RJ Bugsy who gets involved in politics against his wishes , his friends Omer & Aliya who are on top of the social circles of Lahore and define most of his relationships , the who's who of Urban Lahore politics and military section and then there is the girl Nida who gets involved in this chaos of living this life without a direction or care and it is never a happy ending for all.

 I liked the characters and the conversations. It was almost surreal at times ,making you pause and think back of your youth or look into the futility of all this, but the overall story left me wanting for more , a closure maybe. In the end , all relationships seemed to have no beginning or end,even those that are central to this storyline. The blurb promises some anguish, but there is none or some but masked in alcohol and smoke. The book is entertaining , the lives and the narration of the book almost like one of your own relative's tale and there is a lot of heart and hurt in the book.I enjoyed the wonderful music mentioned in the story and felt the hope to break free of the society one day and be above all this. But only few are able to do it and they are what become legends to be written about and be inspired from, like this book.

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Joel Dicker

Book Review: The 'Truth about Harry Quebert Affair' by Joel Dicker

12:00:00 AM

           
                  The 'Truth about Harry Quebert Affair' by Joel Dicker is undoubtedly one of the most gripping and satisfying books that I have read in the recent past. Though the book is quite lengthy (and often has the pretensions of a literary read) with about 600+ pages, itsn't a drag. Infact, I enjoyed it much more than many of that crime thrillers which went on to become 'international best-sellers'!

                 The book is set in a coastal New Hampshire town ( Somerset). The protagonist, Marcus Goldman, has had a super successful novel and is desperately in need of inspiration for his his next book. He goes to meet his college professor, Harry Quebert,whom he considers as his fatherly figure and also tries to focus on his writing and re-invent himself. But when the body of (the then) fifteen-year-old Nola Kellergan is found 33 years after she went missing and Quebert is accused of her murder, Marcus works to unravel the mystery behind the crime . How Marcus finds out the truth and what happens to his new novel in the due course of the investigation is what this 'big' book is all about.

                Part guru-shishya story, part murder mystery- love triangle, this is the kind of the book that has something in it for everyone. I liked the way Joel Dicker narrated the story with bits about creative writing thrown in between.The setting is quite fresh and there are twists and turns happening at regular intervals. Infact, as I mentioned before, I found find this book more racy and thrilling than any of those books that have come out of the 'pages-turn-by-themselves' Patterson factory.

Verdict: Must Read! I'm giving it a out of 5.

-nikhimenon

crime thriller

Tell No One by Harlan Coben

10:03:00 AM


'Tell No One' reads more like Sidney Sheldon than Harlan Coban . Elizabeth Beck was murdered a good 8 years ago and her husband Dr David Beck has never been able to get over the gruesome incident which happened almost a decade back.Suddenly,a mysterious e-mail lands up in his e-mail and soon, David realizes that his past is back to haunt him once again. With twists and turns happening at regular intervals,'Tell No One' is an absolute page turner!
The 2006 French Thriller was based on this book.

-nikhimenon

crime thriller

Book Review: Coffee House by Lajo Jose

10:00:00 PM


                   
                 
                   Lajo Jose’s Coffee House is a work which aspires to be a new-age crime novel but unfortunately is  heavily influenced by the S.N. Swamy –K Madhu movies of the 90s. (Infact the basic thread itself - of the convicted killer opening up about his innocence a few days before his execution, reminded me of the third film in the CBI series)

                  Benjamin is convicted for multiple homicides and is awaiting execution. A few days before his execution he expresses desire to meet the journalist (Esther) who has been instrumental in his conviction and wants to convince the world of his innocence. Esther who works with a leading Malayalam Magazine, 'Kuleena' (modelled on 'Vanitha' and the Malayala Manorama group) half- heartedly accepts the invite and decides to 're-investigate' the case. How she manages to solve the puzzle and clear Benjamin's name of the murder/murders is what 'CH' is all about.Also aiding her in her journey are Peter Achan ,Sub Inspector Chris and Aparna, the scribe's colleague and best-friend.

                First things first.This debut novel is undoubtedly a quick and easy read (no long, boring prose or pretentious metaphors thrown in just for the sake of it).Even an occassional/newbie reader can finish it off in a couple of hours. Quality work of crime fiction is a rare thing as far as new age Malayalam writing is concerned and hats off to Lijo for trying to revive a long lost genre! As mentioned before, the writing is straight forward, the language used being simple and easy to comprehend even for the lay reader. Lajo also makes some interesting remarks about Kottayam town and pretty much succeeds in making this central Kerala town also a part of the narrative. 

              However the book is not devoid of flaws either. For an ambitious new-age crime thriller, Coffee House is tad too slow and the identity of the true killer is predictable quite early on. A lot of time (and 'pages') are spent on the pointless (and often cringe worthy) banter between Esther and her close buddy Aparna. Believe me, Aparna's ('Amma package') is definitely one of the most annoying characters I have come across (read) in recent times.  

              The characters are too shallow and none of them have been well etched out. There is a passing mention about Benjamin’s family but the author hasn’t really bothered to elaborate on his back story. As a result, the reader never gets to empathise for him. The same lack of detail is evident in the case of Esther’s characterization. Okay, we get to know that she has a liking for a pretty upmarket café in kottayam town (Tonico Café), but apart from that, what does she like actually? And what about her family? The less said about the shaky characterization of Chris (the cop), the better-  the guy seems to be in a very bad mood when we are first introduced to him (and seems to be only interested in settling scores with his bête noire , Esther )  but pretty soon , he is seeing hobnobbing with her and helping with the investigation!- His transformation and change of heart (remember the scribe had caused great humiliation to him in the past with even a molestation case filed against him!) pretty unconvincing and whatever meek justification rendered to it too weak and hard to swallow!

             Also, the romantic track between Benjamin and Jinu has not been worked out well. As a result, like one of the characters himself states at one instance in the book, Benjamin only comes across as a typical stalker for the average reader.

            To give due credit to Lajo, I liked the character of ‘Solly Jacob’ and how her character and her magazine were modeled on 'Vanitha' , but again it’s a shame that she has very little (and quite insignificant) presence in the narrative and in this 220 + page long crime novel.

Towards the end, the author seems to be in a hurry to wrap up the proceedings and before we realize, the climax is up leaving behind room for a possible sequel (and even for a new series featuring Esther!)

So the logical issues which I had with this 'thriller' are listed below-
  • If the case was such an open and shut case right from the beginning, what was that made Esther & co wage a prolonged media battle to implicate and arrest Benjamin?
  • Esther could easily crack the mystery behind the multiple homicides within a span of two days, just based on her intuitions, the 'killer's statements  and a few incidental findings which cropped up during her '3-4 day long' investigation but then, why did the initial investigating officers so easily overlook these same facts during the course of their investigation?Noone seemed to have bothered to even cross check the veracity of the true ‘killer’s initial statements to the police!(they could have atleast verified 'the cell-phone range' thing!)

Looks like the author is keen on making this into the series and also having a film adaptation for this work (as  indicated in the closing chapter) but I genuinely wish he enhances the original source material at hand and make it more taut and racy by adding some more meat into the (future) feature film script.

Verdict: On the whole, Lajo jose’s Coffee House is a decent start for a first time author, but doesn’t qualify as a truly engaging mystery thriller. I sincerely hope that his follow up to this debut work will be much better. I’m giving it a 2.5 out of 5.

-nikhimenon

mystery

QBR: I Found You by Lisa Jewell

9:12:00 PM



        I Found You by Lisa Jewell

RT Rating: 3.8/5

Mystery/Crime Thriller

     450+ pages, Arrow (2016)
The Verdict:'I Found You' is a gripping thriller which is totally worth your time and money.
 
Synopsis:Twenty Year Old Lily is searching for her missing husband.Forty something Alice,mother of three has a starnger living in her house.Teenager Kirsty has a new boy friend.What is the 'link' between these seemingly unrelated women who don't even belong to the same generation? 'I found You' is built on this interesting premise.Set in the fictional town of Ridinghouse bay, this Part Romance and part thriller, manages to old your attention for most part.

The Good:The pacing (though the book is 450 odd pages long,you never 'feel' that it's overlong!) is apt, plotting is clever, the setting is brilliantly atmospheric.The 'mystery' mood has been successfully maintained for most part with the 'connection' between the three principal characters turning out really well.

The Bad:Towards the third act and the climax,the book loses steam; the big reveal (about Kirsty's disappearance) could have been better thought out .

RecommendationsBuy it!

-nikhimenon


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