Wednesday, 31 August 2016

House of Silk - Anthony Horowitz
A contemporary story about the great maverick detective.

I have associated Horowitz with children's books and was pleasantly surprised to discover that he had written a screenplay for a lot of crime dramas  Midsomer Murders.

I was keen to see how he had handled the Sherlock Holmes series.I was more interested in reading Moriarty but I was glad that I got to this one first since it was the first in the series.


Holmes is dead, Watson is in a care home and he writes this story from there. The story goes in flashback from when he comes from dead at the falls. They settle down to normal life. Watson is married and once when his wife is away visiting, he meets up with Sherlock. He finds himself on time as a visitor comes calling at their door. leading way to another mystery for them to solve.

What works:
  • Horowitz's grasp of the Doyle style is good. It reminded me so much of the master storyteller and Horowitz had clearly imbibed the original Holmes series . 
  • It was easy to see flashes of Doyle characters make their way into the characters in the new series.
  • The story is action oriented such that you have to be alert lest you miss out an important development.
What doesn't:

  • It is dark and while there is not much poetic justice as with the original series.

Overall it is a good read and has prompted me to look for more of Horowitz and his Sherlock stories.

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Playing It My Way, My Autobiography - Sachin Tendulkar

photo courtesy:
A book about a man who lives and loves the game.

It is no surprise that Sachin's autobiography made it to the Limca Book of Records. For someone who is considered "The God of Cricket" the autobiography is bound to generate interest and expectations.

But does it live up to it?

I am not a fan of cricket. I love Sachin though and was curious to find out more about the person behind the Superhero avataar. The contents chronicles interesting points of his life including his marriage to Anjali, his wife. Sounded good, settled in for a long haul.


Sachin takes us through his childhood, his first break and then his entry into international cricket. It chronicles his highs and lows and the struggles that went behind his mystical persona wielding the willow at the crease and churning out records. The book is packed with photographs and ends with his retirement speech.

What works:
  • The book feeds the reader's curiosity about how this cricketer meteoric rise from humble beginnings. It traces his rise from a rookie player to the doyen of international cricket he subsequently became. 
  •  The writing is good and the narrative is so smooth that it wades through each phase of his life with ease. Well written.
  • I have not followed his career closely but for those who have, will feel like walking down the key- Tendulkar-moments lane. 
  • It is funny how Tendulkar admits his superstitions - like not watching the last ball of their World Cup win or eating at the same table twice/thrice in a row to invite luck. Amazing that such a great player resorts to such antics instead of his skill. It goes on to show how desperate these guys are at the top. 
  • There is a bit of self congratulating when he talks about how he figured out Murali's Doosra before the players. But then, it shows how good he is at the game too. 
  • It is commendable how he talks about injuries during matches. We as spectators see only the performance and not the grit of these players who battle various injuries to play the game.

What doesn't:
  • If  you are looking for gossip and masala about controversies, Tendulkar and Majumdar steer clear of it. 
  • There are some titbits, though, like the instance of Bhajji-Symonds spat, that is the extent of it. Match fixing allegations or the Chappell episode are just glanced over. The book is not a hotbed of gossip where Tendulkar settles scores or voices resentments. 
  • The most he does it is lay out his disappointment with Dravid for not letting him complete his double century, but he talks of it like .
  • Couldn't understand the point of having the scoreboard of the matches mentioned. But then I am a cricket novice.
The farewell speech was touching, so was the reaction of his family. I remember waiting to hear about Tendulkar's retirement, thinking he was past his best. I was relieved when he finally did. However, reading about it made me realise how tough it must have been for him .

It is a well written book about someone who thought of cricket and nothing else.This book reflects just that.

Monday, 15 August 2016

The Mahabharata Code - Karthik K B Rao

An intelligent tweak to the ever popular Indian epic.

Looking at Indian fiction shelves, the mythological genre has never been more popular. No wonder then there is an upsurge of books exploring the famous Mahabharata epic from various angles. A lover of the genre, I feel however, Mahabharata and Ramayana have been explored too much to my liking. 

Therefore my initial reaction to this one: Gosh, not another one!" But you couldn't deny that the premise was intriguing. A past-present concept coupled with a bit of science fiction with a sprinking of truth distilled from the Geeta. was compelling enough to apply for a review copy on the Book Blog tour. 

Narayana Rao, a NASA scientist goes on the Mars with his team after they receive mysterious signals. He ends up participating in the reenacting of the Mahabharata with Vyas as the mastermind. His son is groomed to be Krishna and then events unfold where technology and manipulation force Narayana Rao to question his beliefs and his mind.

What works:
  • The concept. Rao uses technology and contemporary language to present his version of Mahabharata. The style is fluid and smooth and his version of the events in the epic work.
  • The language. I read a review saying that the language was far too informal. But for me, that was the USP. It drew me into the story and empathise with Rao as he explains the dilemma of  growing up in a different country, yet rooted in Indian mythology and ethos.
  • It is very easy to identify with the character as he talks about the lifestyle and mindset indicative of today's generation. It has shades of humour, yet is philosophical in nature.  
  • Also, it is noteworthy, how Rao uses technology explain mystical events. It is bizarre and preposterous but Rao makes it work with language and compelling narrative.
  • My favourite was the exchange between Shristi and Narayana Rao. The conversation about materialism and its value was very well done. Also, The distilled truth from the Gita is presented so well and in a matter of fact style here.
What doesn't:
  • Nothing really. The fact that the author managed to convey the essence of heavy dose scripture in such a simple, effective format is quite impressive for a debut author. Obviously the subject is close to his heart; it reflects in the book too. 

Overall, The Mahabharata Code is lighthearted and entertaining at one level. At another, it makes you think and re-read chapters and ponder over it.

For me, that is a good package and a cracking read.

Recommended for anyone  who appreciates good writing, self deprecating humour and a good story.

Friday, 12 August 2016

Vikram Rana investigates - Sharmistha Shenoy

An interesting thriller set in Hyderabad.

Like the author states on her bio-profile, I love reading thrillers too. So I jumped at the chance to review this book when it came through tbcblogtours. 

Indian whodunnits are something I have watched more on TV. I was looking forward to the reading experience.

This book held promise. It has not one but two crime stories. Terse, compact and plunging right into action, these plot driven stories offer a fascinating insight into the high society and its inhabitants.

The protagnist Vikram Rana reminded me of Rowling's Cormoran Strike, both embarking on their first case after a stint elsewhere. But that is where the similarity ends. Rana is a more conventional and stable character than Strike.


Vikrama Rana is an ex-cop turned detective. He lands his first case when a close friend calls on him to solve a murder. To get to the killer, Rana will have to wade through murky secrets and lies, while trying to balance a feisty domestic front.

What works:
  • The setting. This is the USP of the novel. I loved the way Shenoy infuses the story with Hyderabadi names, food and flavour. What sets a thriller apart for me, is the setting and the backdrop. This book scores on that count.
  • The protagnist. Vikram Rana is an interesting character with his own set of vices. His relationship with his wife and their domestic banter is portrayed very well. It is interesting how Shenoy had etched out the two characters. Only wish Gopi Reddy had such a distinct persona as well. The stories change but these characters will remain constant through the series. Developing these characters better through each murder case will add value to the series.
  • The suspects. Shenoy lays out an interesting set of characters in each of her cases. They represent different social strata and contribute to the story in their own way. 
  • A fast track read. The stories are quick and compelling perfect for today's restless readers. 
What doesn't:
  • The story is action oriented and focused towards containing the reader's attention. However, the plot twists could have been worked better and the characters could have a bit more depth. 
Barring few typo errors, the book is like a quick snack. An ideal travel companion for those holiday weekends.

Detective aficionados will like this more.

Disclaimer: I received a copy from the author in return for an honest review.