crime

Riley Sager's Last Time I lied

8:34:00 AM


                      Riley Sager's 'Last Time I lied' is a slow burner. It's one of those books which moves at a leisurely pace in the beginning but still manages to hook your attention and never let you put it down or move on with something else!
           Camp Nightingale is a summer camp run by one of the multi-millionaires of the town ,Franny-Harris- White. She has two adopted sons, Theo and Chet. But when three of the young girls from the camp Vivian, Natalie and Allison go missing from the camp all hell break loose and Franny is forced to shut down the camp, also leaving behind Emma, the only other roommate of the three missing girls, traumatized.
          Fifteen years later, Franny decides to reopen the camp and she decides to invite , Emma  also to the camp as the instructor-in -charge of the present occupants(Krystal,Sasha,Miranda) of the cabin (named Dogwood,) from where the three girls went missing fifteen years ago. Emma manages to form a bond with the three young girls,but pretty soon she realises that Camp Nightingale harbours many sinister secrets which might have led to the disappearance of Vivian and her friends.
          As I mentioned in the beginning , Riley Sager takes his own sweet time in setting up the plot and establishing the characters.The first one hundred pages or so are a bit dull and the narrative mostly moves at a lethargic pace,but once the mystery begins unravelling slowly, there is no looking back.In the layered narrative,Riley Sager manages to pack in as much intrigue and mystery as possible ,unravelling them, at regular intervals.
         The tail end twist was splendidly done and I never saw it coming.But I wish Sager had given some more detail about the circumstances that might have led Katherine to take up that drastic challenge! 

On the whole,I'm giving a 4 out of 5 for this genuine psychological thriller!

-nikhimenon

crime

Hydrangea by Lajo Jose (Regional)

9:26:00 PM


           Hydrangea is Lajo Jose's follow up to his highly successful 'Coffee House', the second book in journalist turned private investigator Esther's crime series.Like his previous work, Hydrangea is also an investigative crime thriller, but unlike 'Coffee House' which had a heavy 'S.N. Swamy-K.Madhu' movies' hang over to it, 'Hydrangea' is modelled mostly on the western 'stalker' crime thrillers(Lars Kepler's book with the same name seems to be Lajo's reference point for this work, as the similarities and inspiration are pretty much evident).
           So, the plot goes somewhat like this- A serial killer is threatening the city with his maverick crimes and the modus operandi is pretty weird, he shoots a short video of his unassuming victim pretty much before the actual act of crime and sends it to the city police chief ,virtually challenging them to stop the crime from being committed. But since the videos don't leave much clue about the victims except for a grainy image of them in their cabins, the police also can't do much about it.Private Investigator Esther and the firm which she is working for,headed by Ali Imran also gets entangled in this rigmarole and their task is cut out as the killer is on his violent spree!
           Lajo Jose has definitely improved when compared to his debut novel and this time around his plot is sharp and the narrative is also quite fast paced.The pointless banter between Aparna and Esther has been trimmed down for good this time around.The characters of Ali Imran, the lady IPS officer and that of Esther were quite poorly developed.And last but not the least,Lajo's obession with his debut work is quite evident with multiple instances of that book being referred to in Hydrangea, which to be honest, was a bit irritating, after a point.
         But whatever said and done, I enjoyed reading Hydrangea.Though it's heavily inspired by the Western thrillers of similar genre , Lajo has delivered a decent addition to the almost extinct Malayalam Pulp Crime genre!

I'm giving it a 3 out of 5!

-nikhimenon

family

#BookReview: Physical: The catastrophe of desire by Mari.Reiza

9:09:00 AM

Physical: The catastrophe of desire by mari reiza
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Some times you begin a book with little expectation and find struggling to identify with the character, any character actually. This happened for me with Physical as I just could not empathize with Kiki - whose breakup has left her a little mad and the lonely craziness is just eating her up. I felt her hurt and understood her true self behind the angry mask but she still made me feel frustrated with her. Then the story flips to Fatima, Kiki's best friend, a new mother of twins who is stuck at home after pregnancy and feels her worth fading away. Now that's a feeling I so very well know - by thinking of a time when I simply slip out of others memories and left alone. And gradually I got engrossed in the book. I wanted to see what breaks / makes these two ladies and their friendship evolve.

At a certain point in the story, it became my story. I could feel this play out between me and a friend of mine wondering together, where we walked our own way and this book showed how we can miss the signs even in our closest friends.

A short read, this is emotioanl, fun, beautifully true and so relatable story of Love and desire i  in modern times.



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CJ Tudor

Chalkman by C.J. Tudor

12:34:00 AM

             The Chalkman by C.J Tudor was one of the most hyped books of 2018. Had read much about this debut work by Tudor and was quite excited to grab a copy.I must confess that the book did meet my expectations to an extend. Set in the small town of Anderbury, a fictional town in England, Chalkman is a decent weekend read but with a confusing ending! 
          The story is set in two time frames, 1986 and 2016. Ed, Fat Gav, hoppo, Nickey are a gang who spend their time fooling around. One of them receive a box of chalks as a birthday gift and soon they devise secret codes to communicate between themselves. But little did they realize that this sweet little game of them was going to land them in big trouble!
          It's 2016, thirty years have passed and Ed is now a school teacher. When Ed receives a letter reminding him of the 'Chalkman',he figures out that nothing is over yet and he has to find out who killed the 'Waltz girl' all those years ago!
          While I was reading this book, I was reminded (on more than one occassion) of Joel Dicker's Baltimore boys and Stephen King's iconic 'IT' which also delt with  childhood gangs and their sinister secrets. Infact, the narrative and plot structure of 'The Chalkman'  (which alternates between two time frames) are also pretty much similar.
         Tudor's debut work is a pretty easy read. There aren't too many characters the most striking one being, Mr Halloran. This character could have been better etched out though.Though his entry does manage to elicit dread and fear, it fizzles out soon.This one is a pretty violent work with gory deaths and bizarre imageries, the scene depicting the Waltz girl's (Elisa) death being a typical case in point.The 'spookiness' quotient is also quite high.The parallel's drawn between Ed's father's condition and that of Hoppo's mother has been quite competently done.
           The basic theme of cryptic messages indicating something sinister/ a harmless children's game ending up in something gruesome is not new. Infact it has been explored before (Want to Play? by P.J. Tracy , works by Stephen King to name a few) by even experienced authors.The childhood timeline in 'Chalkman' is heavily inspired by Stephen King's 'IT' ,I guess! But still ,what makes 'Chalkman' interesting is it's layered narrative and compelling situations which infact gets the reader hooked into it. Even though there are multiple twists happening in both the time frames, the author has succeeded in not confusing the reader ( and thereby losing track of the events) for the most part. But where Tudor's writing falters heavily is towards the last twenty pages of the book.
          The biggest weak point of the book is it's climax. It is a big mess and reads like a hastily written first draft. Honestly, I was not that surprised when the big reveal about Eddy was made (but what was the whole point about that 'big reveal'?Was he suffering from a medical condition? Or was it a plain case of Kleptomania?But then ,how do you explain the bouts of strange dreams Eddy was experiencing every now and then?).There are far too many loose ends and quite an implausible climactic twist.

Why did the villain wait all these years to attack them? 
Was he faking his concussion?
Who was the one who was drawing the chalkmen? Was it Nicky?

         The recurrent (lucid) dream sequences involving Eddy was also quite boring and repetitive after a point. As I mentioned before, some of the other twists were also quite unbelievable. It's quite startling that noone  bothered to find out the truth behind the attack on Reverend Martin.Likewise, Fat Gav's accident (and the events leading to it), Mickey's murder was also not looked upon by the investigators seriously.
          Well, for those of you who are too lazy to read the whole review which I have written and have just scrolled down to see the verdict/bottomline, let me quote Fat Gav (from the book) - this one is definitely not a pile of stinking Buckaroo! There are many good things about this book, it's (though a bit formulaic)  an engaging work for the most part, but has a grossly underwhelming and confusing climax. I am giving it a 2.9 out of 5 

-nikhimenon

Historical Fiction

Review: The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue

2:36:00 AM

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

I started this book and my initial thought was that this is another happy go lucky adventure story of a rich spoilt kid with his best friend who he also loves romantically. Within three chapters, something about Henry "Monty" Montague gave me a feeling I was in for good fun. Yes, this book is a fun ride but it has a good handle on the emotional side of the trio (Monty, Percy and Monty's sister Felicity) who accidentally get veered towards this adventure.

Set in the 1700s it takes inspiration from the society's belief at the time about gay love, rights of the black folks and of women. As we travel across cities, it beings the beauty and culture of the cities to surface, even if briefly.  I totally adore Felicity in this story as the girl who has dreams and the brains to match but is being forced to go attend a school where her talents would go waste. She is the voice that actually helps the readers connect to Monty along with the story.  It is a coming to age kind of story that has a bit of predictable end but its the journey to reach there that is worth your time.

I am interested to read the next part of the book now to know of the story from her eyes and perhaps just to see her make her dreams happen.

It is a quick , funny , crazy and sweet tale which is even more fun as an audiobook, narrated by Christian Coulson (sample here)


 
My rating: 4 of 5 stars






     



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