Lethal White

30 03 2019

Lethal White

This is the fourth book in the Cormoron Strike series by J K Rowling (pseudonym – Robert Galbraith) and it’s just as addictive and enjoyable as all the three that came before. Actually, I think each book is better than the previous one.

Lethal White is a long winded blackmailing and murder mystery which runs over 600 pages. As a rule, I mistrust huge books. It is usually unfathomable to me that an author needs more than a reasonable 400 pages to say what he/she wants to say. I’m sure there are lot of great books that are longer, but I cannot vouch for them personally due to my tendency to generally avoid huge books. I know I’m missing out on great stuff there (I’m thinking Lord of the Rings!), but I need to get over my anxiety of big books. Is there an actual technical term that describes my phobia? I wonder! A little digression – I managed to read Goldfinch (over 750 pages) and I absolutely loved every page of it!

In the case of Lethal White, I was genuinely perplexed as to how a murder mystery book can span over 600 pages. It just seemed either impossible or preposterous to me. Nevertheless, as you know, I’ve ploughed into the book and enjoyed it very much. Rowling’s writing is just delightful. The way the characters were captivating and the plot engaging, I actually felt bad when the book ended. I feel that in many ways Cormoron and Robin, the chemistry between them, and their lives are actually more intriguing and appealing than the investigation itself. It adds to the appeal of the series a lot. Lethal White has lot of characters and parallel threads, and despite that it’s rewarding.

In the acknowledgements section, the author claimed that the Lethal White is by far the most complex to write in terms of the plot. I can totally understand. It’s been 3 years since her last book – Career Evil. I hope she doesn’t take that long for the next one.  Career of Evil (Book 3) is my favorite so far in the series.




Cut-like Wound

17 05 2013


Cut-like Wound by Anita Nair is a psychological crime thriller. Even though I absolutely loved her Ladies Coupe and Mistress, I was skeptical about this book as this genre is a deviation from her usual stuff. Having no prior experience with desi-crime thrillers also contributed to my apprehension. But I was to have a pleasant surprise. The book is an absolute page-turner. The story is well-crafted and narrated beautifully. She set her story in and around the world of transgenders, which presented a very refreshing and new backdrop. It actually adds to the appeal of the book.

Her portrayal of Gowda as an intelligent, middle-aged, not-so-successful in his career Inspector makes him not too intimidating and the readers won’t feel compelled to be in awe of him right away.

Color enters his drab life in the form of Urmila, his college-love.  Gowda gets carried away but not without initial resistance. If Anita comes up with more crime thrillers featuring Inspector Gowda, I’ll watch out for what happens to his affair with Urmila. 🙂 My guess is that the family man in Gowda will take over sooner or later and put an end to it. Because I believe that all affairs come to an end. An “affair” is temporary by definition. 😛

The way she unveils the psyche of the criminal and explores its dark corners is commendable. This book is going to be made into movie soon and I’m curious to see how it turns out. It is easy to maintain suspense about the identity of the criminal with the readers, because they have only the author’s description to go by. I wonder how the filmmakers will manage to keep the viewers in the dark.

PS: Part of South Asian Women Writers Challenge


28 03 2013

Mediocre and amateurish. I can think of no other words to aptly describe this collection of three Mumbai-based crime thrillers by Piyush Jha. I purchased it almost on a whim from the bestseller’s list on Flipkart against my prudent self warning me otherwise. Even as I was hesitating before hitting the magic button, I remembered that the book was featured in The Hindu with a moderately positive review. That did the trick and I went ahead with the purchase. (Regret!)

mumbaistan-3-explosive-crime-thrillers-Just into a few pages of the first story, I was stuck by the crude way the story was being told,  I cringed at the dull and familiar scenes unfolding , and I distinctly sensed the ‘filmy” style. Indeed I wondered aloud – “outright filmy”. Only then I bothered to check out the author’s bio on the first page. And not surprisingly, I discovered him to be a film director. Ha! This piece of information only made me more weary than before as I went back to the story and embarked on the reluctant journey of treading through the pages. Leaving a book unfinished is something I would do rarely, and that too only after I exerted my utmost will to complete it somehow. My principle is simple -“finish what you start”. It has both advantages and disadvantages. On the positive side, in many occasions I ended up having a better opinion of the book than I started with. On the downside, I had to endure some very stupid books. But usually, I take great care in picking up my reads so, the latter percentage is rather small.

Coming back to Mumbaistan, as I mentioned earlier, it has 3 stories in it. The titles of the three stories shout lack of creativity and/or intelligence and added to my horror:

  1. Bomb Day
  2. Injectionwalla (What!!!)
  3. Coma Man

The first one is about terrorists, police informers infiltrating the enemy gang and busting their plan to blow up BSE. I gagged and almost puked at certain scenes. Above all, the ending. 🙂

Injectionwalla (God save me!) murders his victims by injecting a poisonous drug into them. Actually, he is a hero of sorts as his targets are members of an organ racket, who exploited ,and thereby caused the death of, many innocent people. Initially, he meant only to take the life of a renowned doctor as an act of personal vengeance for his father’s death. But his lover persuades the reluctant protagonist  to go on a killing spree and finish the other members of the racket as well. And can you guess the bait? – sex and blowjobs!! (Speechless! 🙄 😯 )

The last one seems slightly better only because by that time one gets somewhat used to the lousy , unimaginative and bland style. Sigh! It is about a man who gets out of coma after 19 years and ventures out in search of his beloved wife.  In the course of which, he recollects the details of the incident that caused his condition.

Warning! Spoiler below.

Even though the three stories deal with completely different types of crime, there is a common thread that connects all of them. It is this: In all the three stories, it is a woman who masterminds the crime involved. The typical twist/surprise element in the climax!

The contrived stories failed miserably to impress me. 😉

When I say “filmy”, I refer to commercial film stuff. I don’t mean to undermine films in any way (whatever kind they are of). I enjoy them a lot myself. However, I believe that commercial movie stories don’t make good literature. To comment on Piyush Jha – I don’t know about his movies, but I feel that this book is a disaster despite it being a bestseller.

Considering that I’m judging this work a bit too harshly, let’s look at it from a different point of view. May be the book never aimed to become a piece of literary art. May be it only aims to appease a certain section of readers, in case of which it is a success of sort. May be it all comes down to just a terrible mismatch – between the reader and the book. 🙂

Oh, last but not the least. I almost forgot to mention Ekta Kapoor’s review on the book cover. It says –  “A potboiling page-turner packed with three main ingredients: Entertainment, entertainment and entertainment.”

I was almost ROFL upon reading it. I’m sure she didn’t even glance through the book before coming up with it. So cliched! Entertainment????  😆 I don’t see how “crime thrillers” and “entertainment” go together. 😕 (unless they are movies, of course! 😉 )

Next by Michael Crichton

19 10 2009

Next is Michael Crichton‘s last contribution before his death (there are two posthumous  novels – one not yet published). As in all his works, he blends facts with fiction to create a riveting read. It’s impressive to realize how much research goes into each of his novels. I love his techno-thrillers. In Next, he talks about certain controversial and ambiguous issues of genetic engineering and voices out his concerns on behalf of general public. His conclusions and advice in the end do make lot of sense. He emphasized on how Universities and pharmaceutical companies are exploiting people for their own profit. He brought to notice how absurd the whole gene patent thing currently is, which values the profit of researchers over the gain to the taxpayers who funds the research.

I felt that the plot has a little too many threads and I kept losing track of some here and there. The author obviously had a lot to say. Some of the threads are:

  • A selfish and manipulating head of National Institutes of Health
  • A venture capitalist waiting to overtake a genetic company he funded
  • A scientist who illegally uses his own genes to create a trans-genetic ape
  • A talking orangutan in Sumatra forest
  • Glowing leather turtles on Costa Rica beach
  • A talking grey-parrot who can imitate any sounds and even perform arithmetic

There are many others like these. There are even related news paper articles now and then (some of them really gruesome) – about blonds extinction studies, people eating their own fat, artists creating  various trans-genetic pets like giant cockroach, permanent pups etc. and lot more.

This novel really provides lots of information about genetic engineering in a very interesting manner.