Darkly Dreaming Dexter – 5 very bloody stars
Dexter the oddball. Forensic Analyst by day and Killer of Killers by night. Our lovable friendly neighborhood serial killer! No one knows the secret that he vanishes the murders slipped through fingers of law. But what if some one knows who he is or who he was? Will Dexter discover himself or destroy?
Jeff Lindsay is an incredible writer. Using simple words and exceptionally calm wordings, he can create suffocating suspense. Dexter, Debra, Harry – all are products of mesmerizing characterization. I can never stop reading this book over and over. Dexter is one of my top most favorite fictional serial killers (I know, I know. That is a very very odd thing to say). Never ever have I have rooted for a murderer this much. In my opinion never has the POV of a serial killer been explored like this before. But I am afraid that saying anything much about the book might be revealing.
So it is a humble request of mine that any thriller, suspense lover should read(taste) this.
PS. Separate your mind from the TV series to experience the true flavor.
Romantic Bouncers – 4 stars
Millions of Indian teenagers dream of putting on the jersey of Indian Cricket team but only the brightest of all gets the chance. Rabin is one the dreamers with a shining girlfriend, a few friends of the same feather and a father in Narcotics Control hell bent on him having a traditional and safe ‘naukri-wala’ life. But little do people know when drug and corruption slip in ever-day lives and dig their claws in the flesh of innocence. A story of a ambitious dreamer’s struggle to lurch out of the dark alleys of Kolkata and stepping in the limelight of playing for a cricket crazy nation.
Let me take a moment to talk about current status of Indian novels. A huge portion of Indian writings are now done by bored out IIT/IIM passouts or Bankers whose products can be simply put as “less than 200 hundred pages of funny/romantic things done by young and horny people whose lives suddenly take nice turns within last 30 pages”. It is a sad dark time for Indian novels where reading a third book feels repeat full of same old funny/romance cliche with sex thrown in to make it crispy. And then come authors like Ram Vignesh who not only breaks free of these ‘setups’ but also takes daring risky steps of writing books which digs deeper in to the psychology and dark corners of human mind.
Frankly, I don’t read romantic novels. For me, “Romantic Bouncers” was a cringe-worthy name but somehow the premise at the backcover promising an unique blend of Cricket and Narcotics felt appealing. Although the name sounds like a book of love and even though the book contains the love life of our hero, Romantic Bouncer is not a romantic book at all. It is dark, deep, realistic and sometimes raw. But the strongest is the narration – abrupt, discreet and complex with going back and forth. I am not saying that it’s never seen before but it felt incredible to hear an Indian voice finally taking things up a notch. Our protagonist Rabin feels like the-boy-across-the street from the start and we can all relate easily to his struggles. But even before I knew, I had completed the first half of the book and realized that the book had sunk me like a quicksand. And damn those pages about drug lords and streets of Kolkata! When we watch/read foreign TV shows or crime thrillers we all somehow feel that “those type of things are too much for our alleys”. Ram Vignesh has excelled at that part. His descriptions are neither over the top, nor lousy. And apart from being a little cinematic at some places, they are tight, hard and as real as our knuckles.
I will not get into the story much to avoid the risk of spoiling anything but one thing is for sure that Ram Vignesh is one author to keep an eye out for. I recommend this to any romance, fiction or crime fiction lovers and request to welcome this new wave of Indian writing.
P.S. A warm thanks to Mr Vignesh for providing a copy to review.
Shutter Island – 5 stars
When a delusional child murderer named Rachel Solando escapes from the home of Ashecliffe Hospital for the Criminally Insane placed on Shutter Island, US Marshal Edward (Teddy) Daniels and his new partner Chuck Aule are sent to investigate. From a barefoot mentally disturbed woman pulling an impossible escape leaving cryptic codes to the doctors behaving in most nature – Teddy and Chuck become more and more sure about this case being a larger game for something else. With an ulterior motive to find his wife’s insane killer Andrew Laeddis who was transferred here 2 yrs ago, Teddy digs deeper. As a killer hurricane blows down on the island, Teddy begins to see that he may never get to leave Shutter Island because someone or something is trying to drive him insane!
Now that I have sat down to write a review, it feels impossible to do so because I still can’t comprehend that I have finished the book. Words from here, lines from there are still clicking and rattling in my mind. I finished this in 2 days like my life was depending on it! After a long time I felt a rush like this. Dennis Lehane has created a masterpiece to remember.
What drives a mystery novel towards the final pages? Who, why and how – these three questions. Sometimes one of them gets answered before the others. But Shutter Island answers none of these till the finish. Instead it creates such a tight web of more and more and more questions that the reader is driven almost mad with curiosity! Have you ever felt like running faster and faster to find a way out because the walls are closing in from every side? I hadn’t till I read this. The pressure, the delusion, the rush and the confusion – all made me run for last pages and when I reached there, it all blew in my face. I just sat there trying to gather it all in. I couldn’t settle down till I had gone back and forth three times and all the pieces of the puzzle were set into there places firmly and tightly.
A must read for serious mystery lovers. Prepare yourself for one of the most epic twist of all time!
The Mark – 3.5 stars
Buying a book just because it is cheap due to some offer was a huge gamble for me but the good news is I won!
It was a huge surprise when the book turned out to be a smooth crime thriller as promised in its catchy premise – “Right as I’m about to die, I realize all the myths are fake. There’s no white light at the end of a tunnel. My life isn’t flashing before my eyes”!
Henry Parker is a newbie journalist waiting for a snoop to catch. One night he tries to help a man form being physically abused and -poof- he becomes a snoop with the Police and killers on his heels with zero idea of what is happening.
Mentioning anything more than that might spoil parts of the story. SO all I am gonna squeak is that this is no historical or mythical or sci-fi or fantasy thriller. It is a plain hardcore good guys-bad guys thriller set in urban city with us, the people. Without any all-knowing or action-crazy hero Jason Pinter has written a gripping book.
You may not be toppled down or marked forever(pun intended) with The Mark but it is a sweet thriller which will keep you guessing!
Vigilante – 4 stars
It may be an unpopular opinion but now a days a large percentage of detective mysteries cum thrillers tends to emphasise on making the problem somehow personal to the protagonist of the story. Either their past comes back to haunt them or the killer somehow is related to him/her or for some reasons the killer targets our protagonist. The plus point about these type of novels is that they are catchy and can create gripping situations to keep us on the edge; the result- best sellers. But the negativity lies in the familiar taste and repetitiveness. If one reads a certain amount of detective thrillers then this set-up becomes repetitive too fast. That is exactly why Vigilante feels like a fresh breeze!
A serial killer is killing other criminals but looks like he is doing it from behind the bars!
And that’s it! There is nothing more to talk about the premise. Just a pure cop thriller with a good mystery. No overly complicated personal problems, no past and present tying up together and there is nothing personal about the killer. There is a serial killer and DS Jessica has to catch him before the body count keeps increasing. Does it sound purely delicious or not?!?
The writing is smooth and soothing but still creates a hidden chill without using any explosive chase or cinematic action! There are many lady detectives in crime thriller field today but DS Jessica instantly stood out of the crowd as soon as I got to know her. She is energetic, goofy, young and so grounded and relate-able that she feels like one of the friends of ours. That is how I like it! What to say more? The focus of the mystery switches back and forth from one suspect to another which creates a nice guessing game for readers too. For me, that is very important in a mystery thriller. If it can keep me guessing till the last, I relate to it much more. Because it feels great to be a part of the search instead of just watching it from distance.
Although this is the first book by Mr Kerry Wilkinson for me, I am hundred percent sure that it won’t be the last. I suggest any mystery lover to read this and enjoy the forgotten taste of old school mystery novels.
Disturbed – 5 stars
It is very hard to write a proper review of this book because if I try to talk about the premise or concept then it would seem very simple. Also it doesn’t contain any detective, chase, fight scene or dashing protagonist. Yet it turned out to be one of the most catchy and suspenseful thriller I have ever read. And that is exactly why I loved it so much!
Molly is a newly wed who is still trying to figure out how to win smiles from her stepson and stepdaughter from her husband’s last messy marriage. With her stepson’s school still trying to cope up with two recent scandal and tragic incidents and all the neighbours still being best friends with her husband’s ex-wife, Molly has a lot on her plate. But when a serial-killer known as the Cul-de-Sac Killer (who murders families living in Seattle homes) turns his gaze to Molly’s neighbourhood things get a lot lot worse for Molly. With everyone Molly knows turning out to be not who they are, each passing day Molly becomes more and more convinced that her own family is the final target of the killer.
Kids and families are all this book has. But I had no idea of how much of a suspense and mystery can be built with just that. And the twists- oh my god! I bit my nail, I scratch my head again and again but the book just never ran out of twists and turns.
It felt like I was having a conversation with Kevin O’Brien-
Me: Is he the..?
Me: Is she a…?
Me: Aha! He it by doing…
Book: Nah. Try again.
If I try to say anything more, it might ruin the book for you! So just read this book if you are a suspense and mystery lover.
All I can say is, “Believe no one and nothing is what it seems!”
The Last Ember – 4 stars
Jonathan is an american lawyer who has a nice profile for case related to relics because he was once a doctoral student of classics at Rome. But when he is called back to Rome for a simple case related to an ancient stone piece, he finds a message encrypted in it. With help of a few friends from the past that he had left behind, he discovers a conspiracy so hidden and ancient that no one knows or believes it. But little does he know that the terrorists are also trying to destroy every trace of it which may cause an unrepairable damage in Jewish-Christian history. With a shoot-at-sight on his own head and terrorists at his heels, his only way to survive is to find it first.
This by far the most underrated novel I’ve ever read. Dan Brown, Steve Berry, Sam Bourne and numerous authors have made “Treasure hunting” a highly popular genre among today’s books and as too many writer are writing, one starts to notice some clichés and to get bored with same formats and pitch-perfect characters where no one forgets anything they ever had read or done. And that is where Daniel Levin has entered with a a very very fresh take.
Daniel Levin himself is a lawyer and if read carefully, it can be felt who the hero Jonathan is a traced on. The writing is fluid and the book doesn’t give headache with unnecessary infos(
take that David Gibbins). But what I liked most about this book is that the characters are not perfect. Not as good or bad, I mean no one is a perfect professor(don’t get me wrong, I like Robert Langdon but still sometime he feels like a computer) or assassin or collector and everyone has their shortcomings and lacking. Thus they feel very realistic and grounded. With some little poke in religions and a very nice threat hanging over head, Mr Levin has written a stupendous book.
Nothing feels forced or too much complex in the Last Ember and that simplicity is what makes this very enjoyable. As a début novel, this really strong and others really have to watch out if Daniel Levin develops more.
I highly recommend this book to any mystery, thriller, treasure loving readers.
The Torso – 3 stars
Inspector Irene Huss is good at balancing home and office but some cases cannot be contained in the files at office. When parts of human torso start washing up at beaches, it looks like just another serial killing at first glance but Huss tries to solve the case by pulling some old and new ones, she discovers a puzzle with roots deeper than she could imagine. With one corpse being identified as a girl she knew and another corpse being identified as son of another woman known as Huss, she feels how much personal it is this time for the killer and herself.
Now that is an excellent story premise. But sadly the book delivers less than promised. First of all, the length. The book drags so much (more at the first half) that it could have shed about 30 pages easily.
“Maybe it would have been more elegant if the shoe had had a bit of a heel to go with the nice pants, but if you were one hundred and eighty centimeters tall without shoes, you don’t wear heels. A short pass with lipstick would have to do as a means of freshening up her makeup. On the way down the stairs she twisted her arms into a new trench coat-style jacket. It was blue, the color of her eyes.”
Not so frustrating yet? Ok, now imagine paragraphs after paragraphs written about how our heroine had to face the problem of changing clothes quickly because someone was at the door or how she had to face the problem of changing her sweaty bra. There are things like these scattered among a crime thriller about serial killer investigation. It feels so frustrating and boring that even if you just say, “Meh” and skip 2-3 pages you won’t feel that you have missed something important.
But even after all these frustration, the book still manages to keep you interested because the mystery is very good and because Inspector Huss is damn good at what she does. I almost felt like vouching for the book to better when it ended.
To be frank, I want to read more of Inspector Huss mystery series but I am also very much afraid.
Eeny Meeny – 3 stars
Two people (who know each other) are abducted and they are given a choice. A revolver with one bullet in it. Only one gets to live by killing the other (Saw – movies anyone?). Now DI Helen Grace and her team have to find the mastermind when these type of killings start happening all over the town. They have to catch the murderer fast before it starts getting personal. The story is pretty straight. One after another incidents and DI Helen starts to get the feeling that the murderer is actually targeting her and all of the killings may somehow be related to her(touché).
This book is one of those books which build up incredible psychological mysteries but sadly fail to deliver satisfying solutions. The writing style is very engaging and smooth. But the unnecessary chapter breaks are really frustrating. There are so many chapters which run maybe for just 1 or 2 pages. Scratch that, there are chapters which are even less than 1 page. Chapter breaks are important for a novel and I have read other books too which have many chapters (eg. John Verdon). But they feel fine only when those are relevant/necessary.
The psychological satire is very well written by M. J. Arlidge. The minds of the victims are explored deeply. But at the end the solution or the identity of the murderer is very sudden which makes it bland. Have you read Now You See Me or The 7th Victim? Because then you already know the answer! Although The 7th victim itself felt very simialr to Now You See Me, after reading both of those, Enney Meeney feels like a complete cliché novel at the end. But if you haven’t heard/read any of those mentioned, you are in for a great ride!
I had very high hope with the novel because it has mind scratching mystery, appealing characters and greatly explored human psychology. Only if the ending had delivered more, this book would have been awesome.
Amazonia – 4 stars
4yrs ago, a government scientific expedition team lead by Dr. Carl Rand had vanished in the unknown depths of the jungle of Amazon. Now after all these years one of the team members- a special force soldier comes out of the jungle and dies within hours from multiple diseases, scars and molestations. But, he has come out with both of his arm although he had gone in with only one! Now the government decides to lead another expedition to trace back the missing years following the dead soldier’s path with a team of scientists and soldiers. They also enlist Nathan Rand(son of Carl Rand) who wants to solve his father’s death at any cost with the help of his friends. But little does he know that there is one more contender of their findings who lurches behinds them hiding in their shadows while the unseen horrors and ancient secrets of Amazon waits for all of them!
Ok, I was hooked with just the premise itself! The plot is very engaging. I have read many science fiction and adventure novels but mostly those focus on technologies very much. But rarely comes novels like Amazonia which focuses on the nature and its horror! the wilderness, the jungle, its animals, weird bugs, medicinal leaves – all of these knits a gripping and enjoyable story which is decorated with stupendous action, chase and one after another twists. The jungle’s description and the actions are written so well that it feels like happening in front of the eyes like a movie (will come back to this point). With betrayal, revenge and a good villain thrown into that, James Rollins has really written a fantastic gripping novel.
Each of the characters are living through the pages and feels very very realistic. Manny, Prof. Kouwe, Tor-Tor became friends of mine too along with Rand. Nathan Rand is one of the best heroic characters that I have read. His anger, sadness and bravery really leaves a mark on the reader’s mind.
Sadly the books is very very cinematic at some places. It kind of does feel like a sci-fi adventure movie with little bits of Predator thrown in. But what really hurt me was that the 2nd half of this book is almost a blue print of the movie AVATAR by James Cameroon!! Amazonia came out on 2001-02 whereas AVATAR was out on 2009. The jungle, animals and intriguing story elements are so similar that it feels uncanny to be ‘just a coincidence’! It even felt as if Mr. Cameron ripped off some of the pages of this book to write the script. I usually like movies of Mr. Cameron but this sad realisation left a bitterness when I finished the book.
I highly recommend this book to any science fiction or adventure lovers.