Tag Archives: murder

City of Death by Abheek Barua

City of Death by Abheek Barua Title: City of Death
Author: Abheek Barua
Publisher: Juggernaut Books
ISBN: 9788193237212
Genre: Crime, Thriller
Pages: 263
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4/5

So this was the first book by Juggernaut Books that I read and I must say that I was hooked to it from Page 1. Of course mainly because it is a thriller but what a thriller at that! Set in Kolkata, certainly helps its case a lot more.

The book I am talking about (you know it by now anyway) is “City of Death” by Abheek Barua. Why did I think it was that great? Well, for starters I loved the female protagonist Sohini Sen – a middle-aged, most cynical detective and might I rightly add – unforgettable as you finish the book. She is the kind of character you must have actually come across and yet so unassuming that you might not even remember till it strikes you later.

The plot: A young woman from an affluent background has been brutally murdered. Sohini gets to know of this from the chief minister’s office. She has to drop everything and get on the case. In the midst of all this, there are political parties and powers at the top who want to either not let this get solved or are just too busy with their own agendas.

I won’t go further into the plot but as I said before, I loved the character of Sohini. There is something very real about her and not to forget the star of the book: Kolkata. Barua with his writing takes you in the by-lanes of Kolkata like a magician – always showing, never telling – sometimes telling, never showing. As a reader, I was gripped from the start and honestly I was kinda disappointed when the book ended.

“City of Death” is a perfect book for that lazy rainy afternoon when you have all the time in the world to devour a book – back to back.

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The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith

The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith Title: The Cuckoo’s Calling
Author: Robert Galbraith
Series: Cormoran Strike – Book 1
Publisher: Mullholland Books
ISBN: 978-0316206853
Genre: Suspense, Detective, Crime
Pages: 464
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

With great trepidation, I picked up “The Cuckoo’s Calling” by Robert Gailbraith. There was already so much written and said about it almost two years ago, that I did not even know if I wanted to read it or not. I am glad that I picked it up. Please do not even compare it to the Harry Potter series. You just cannot. May be that is why J.K. Rowling had to change her identity and write this series and once the identity was out, well then the critics had their field day- both good and bad.

“The Cuckoo’s Calling” is the first in the Cormoran Strike (the name of the detective) series and while the third one is just out, there are more lined up. I don’t know how many though. All I can tell you is that the book is something else for sure and I cannot wait to read the second and the third installments.

What is the first book about?

Of course, at the heart of the book is the Private Detective Cormoran Strike – the ex-army guy with his own complicated personal life and skeletons in the closet, his business which is drying up, and of course he had to have a messy break-up with his fiancée.
So everything is downhill till Robin a temp arrives from the Temp Agency and ends up becoming a permanent secretary/assistant of sorts and then a case lands up on his doorstep which he just cannot refuse. It is a high-profile case – that of a supermodel – falling to death from her third-floor Mayfair apartment and her brother suspects foul play and hires Cormoran to investigate further. This in short is the gist. It is like any other hard-boiled detective novel you might say. So what makes it any different?

I guess it is the writing for sure but it is also the noir element that runs through the book, given it is set in London and also given how the characters are all people with shades of grey as it should be in a book like this. I instantly took a shine to Cormoran and the wry humour that prevailed throughout. The working class of London is also very well depicted, without leaning to any social or political context. The lives of people – both the detectives and the suspects are so detailed that it is a joy to read the book and know more about them.

“The Cuckoo’s Calling” is the kind of book that cannot be read in one sitting. It needs to be cherished and savoured and not read in one go. At least I wasn’t able to. Cormoran Strike is a detective that will grow on you as he did on me and I cannot wait to read The Silkworm.

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The Cuckoo’s Calling (English)

387 Short Stories: Day 23: Story 23: Heat by Joyce Carol Oates

Heat and Other Stories by Joyce Carol Oates Title: Heat
Author: Joyce Carol Oates
Taken from the Collection: Heat and Other Stories

“Heat” by Joyce Carol Oates, like all her other works is supremely disturbing and Gothic in nature. She tends to write stories that grab you by the throat and leave you breathless. This story is also something like that. It is of twins – Rhea and Rhoda Kunkel and how they meet their end one summer at the hands of a neighbour – a mentally unstable teenager, Roger Whipple. That in short, is the crux.

However, Oates makes it more than just this. The adjectives and the style of writing are enchanting. She knows how to create an atmosphere of sorts and then to ruin it with the harsh reality surrounding it. As a reader, I thought the story got its closure quite well. I did not hanker for more, nor did I think she could have written more when it came to this one. The undertones are brilliant – jealousy, the nature of God, families’ need to protect, and the idea of being a bully also is depicted vividly. A story that gives you the chills.

Book Review: The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes

The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes Title: The Shining Girls
Author: Lauren Beukes
Publisher: Little Brown & Co
ISBN:
Genre:
Pages:
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

I can safely say that “The Shining Girls” is one of the best reads for me this year. I may be a little late on this boat, but the point is that I loved the book. It has been a fulfilling read and there are times I randomly think of it at work. Why do you ask? Well, simply because it is wonderfully written.

Lauren Beukes talks of sci-fi and a thriller and at the same time, there is a literary angle to it, which very few books or novelists are capable of. “The Shining Girls” is about Harper Curtis and he isn’t your run-of-the-mill serial killer. He kills “shining girls”. That is also quite usual. What is unusual is that he travels in time – from the 20s to the 9s0s and kills these girls. A house makes him do it. Yes, a house makes him. As every serial killer, he makes a mistake. In 1989, he leaves Kirby Mazrachi behind and doesn’t kill her. Kirby, now an adult, wants to track him down and figure about the murders. She enlists the help of a Sun-reporter named Dan and the hunt for the killer then begins. To add to this, there is another angle, which I will not give away in this review.

This is the plot of the book. It seems very simple, however it is not. The writing is razor sharp and sometimes even gruesome. “The Shining Girls” is perfect for supernatural fans. I was a little hesitant to read it at first, however as I turned the pages, I became more and more engrossed in the writing. Lauren takes readers to worlds beyond and then right back, spinning between realities and mind games. This makes “The Shining Girls” what it is. A read which must be savoured.

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Book Review: I Will Have Vengeance: The Winter of Commissario Riccciardi by Maurizio de Giovanni

I Will Have Vengeance Title: I Will Have Vengeance: The Winter of Commissario Ricciardi
Author: Maurizio de Giovanni
Translator: Anne Milano Appel
Publisher: Europa Editions
ISBN: 978-1609450946
Genre: Noir, Crime
Pages: 192
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

Crime fiction is not everyone’s cup of tea – to read or to write. It is more so difficult when you are writing crime fiction novels based in a time different than yours, you have to but after all keep in mind how the readers are going to react to those times and situations. At the same time, a writer needs to be more so intelligent when it comes to the plot and the overall series (because when anyone writes a crime novel, according to me it more or less turns to be a series). These and a lot of other elements make for a great crime novel, when synchronized and almost singing to each other.

“I Will Have Vengeance: The Winter of Commissario Ricciardi” is one such book, written with keen observation and some humour (in some places if not all) by Maurizio de Giovanni. At the core of the novel, as the title suggests is its protagonist, Commissario Ricciardi. The action takes place in Naples. It is 1931 and winter. The cold winds are biting and Ricciardi knows that something is going to happen. Sure enough, a murder takes place; that of one of the greatest tenors the world has ever known – Maestro Vezzi and that too in his dressing room at Naples famous San Carlo Theatre. The enigmatic and quite cold Ricciardi is called in for an investigation, with his loyal colleague Maione. The two make for a fantastic detective duo I have read about in a long time. The murder and its solving make for excellent reading, and that too because of a secret held by Ricciardi.

Maurizio de Giovanni wrote a short story at first and introduced Ricciardi in it. From there on it won a writing competition, and then paved way for other three books in the series. What struck me the most and stayed with me about the book was the setting. Naples in 1930s was something I had never thought I would read of and that too in crime fiction, however I did and I loved it. Ricciardi is a man with a lot of baggage attached and at the same time, the characterization is humane and subtle. There are hilarious moments throughout the book and the writing is sharp and unsettling as well.

At one point the story did lose some pace, but I ignored that aspect, as it lunged right ahead and got me back into the story. This has been the first crime fiction for me of the year and I could not have been happier about the choice. Europa Editions has introduced the “World Noir” series and this is the first installment. I am sure the other titles will be as riveting as this one. At the same time, I cannot wait to read the other three titles published in the Ricciardi series (hoping they will be translated in English). This translation of the first novel by Anne Milano Appel is almost bang-on with description and the sense of place of a crime novel. The great thing that worked for me as well was that I read it during winter (the apt season), so the “relate” factor was high. A brilliant read nonetheless.