Friday, 29 May 2015

No Mark Upon Her - Deborah Crombie

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A master storyteller whose crime thrillers are quite a delight!

This whodunnit is based on the rowing race world, a world that I have often fantasised about. I remember watching the Oxford/Cambridge annual boat race on TV and wondering what it must be within the sport. Crombie showed me a glimpse of that competitive tight knit community through this book.

She paints a very vivid picture of the life of a rower and the kind of world they live in. The story is a standard who dunnit and perhaps it would have helped if I had read from the earliest novels of the Kincaid and James. However, although it would have helped, it did not leave me stranded in anyway. The story ties in beautifully with the past of the detectives and takes their story forward while they investigate yet another murder.

A rower who is also a police officer is found drowned while out on her daily training. Kincaid and James feel the pressure as the met's reputation is at stake. But when a member of the rescue team, that discovered the dead rower is assaulted, Kincaid and James realise they need to dig deeper to uncover the truth.

What works:
  • An atmospheric story about the rowing world, even as Kincaid and James get on with their lives on a parellel level.
  • It offers a fascinating insight into the politics and the tenacity that governs the sport.
  • The writing is so smooth and engaging that it just sucks the reader in and keeps her hooked till the end.
  • The writer obviously has mastered the craft very well and writes with a smooth panache. Reading her is enjoyable for her turn of phrase and vivid descriptions.
What doesn't:
  • Nothing really. It is a great read, a joyful suspense. What more can a crime buff ask for?
After reading this, I picked up its sequel Necessary as Blood and half way through, it is equally engrossing. I read somewhere that Crombie has been compared to Elizabeth George. Being a hardcore George fan, I was a bit miffed. But now that I have read Crombie, she has her own style and it is unfair to compare her to George. 

I will be reading more of Crombie for sure, just to see if she can sustain that magic in each of her novels.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

The Rackeeter - John Grisham

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A cracking read that brought me out of my reader's block.

For the last couple of months, I have been grappling with "reader's block".

This has happened to me before. To counter it, I usually pick up something lighter, preferably a thriller to pull me out of the spell. This Grisham book was my saviour this time.

A well known federal judge is murdered. A lawyer wrongly convicted of embezzlement is counting years in jail. The FBI is under pressure to find the killer . The lawyer approaches them with the killer's identity. Then begins a cat and mouse game where the lawyer Malcolm, enters the witness protection programme, changes his identity and then things go a bit awry and Malcolm is on the run.

Is he saying the truth? Will the FBI catch up with him, forms the base for this exciting story .

What works:
  • The simple way in which he draws the reader into the story. It operates on a very elementary level by introducing main character of Malcolm, but slyly builds up the pace and the plot.
  • The reader is in for a smooth ride. The plot is laid out in characteristic Grisham style. He forces the reader to keep on turning the pages, effortlessly.
What doesn't:
  • While the plot flows seamlessly, the story on the whole doesn't amount to much. It is a fairly straightforward cat and mouse story with no complexities of characters.
  • The story takes the reader on a roller coaster ride, however it leaves the reader unsatiated at the end of it. The ride is fun but after it is over, it doesn't leave the reader with any lingering aftertaste.

Althogether, an enjoyable read, that keeps reader engaged. I was a hardcore Grisham fan in my teens and twenties, but his later books were quite disappointing. I am not sure if this one is one of the earlier one or the latter ones....

But it is a good one. Recommended.