lexlingua: (fanfiction)
I went on a mystery marathon this 2015, pulling out old mystery books which had been made into movies or TV shows. So, in a way I cheated, but I blame it all on The Silkworm, which was my first mystery book in ages and which made me want to read again about the human propensity for murder and mayhem. Here’s the brief run-up:


Every Secret Thing (2014)
This mystery movie is more of a psychological intrigue, and is based on Laura Lippmann’s book of the same name. Two school girls were convicted of killing an African American baby girl, now they have been released. But the same murder happens again – did they or did they not do the second murder as well? Actually, were they guilty of the first murder, in the first place? Everyone’s hiding a secret here, and you don’t know whether you should applaud or berate them for keeping such secrets. Detective Nancy Porter comes across as a mild-mannered and soft-spoken investigator, an unusual characterization for a crime detective. Not sure if its true to the book though. All-in-all, a disturbing but brilliant plot. Rating: 9.5/10

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lexlingua: (Books)
The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith
Publisher: Hachette Audio (2014)
Narrated by: Robert Glenister

Private investigator Cormoran Strike returns in a new mystery from Robert Galbraith, author of the #1 international bestseller The Cuckoo's Calling. When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, Mrs. Quine just thinks her husband has gone off by himself for a few days--as he has done before--and she wants Strike to find him and bring him home. But as Strike investigates, it becomes clear that there is more to Quine's disappearance than his wife realizes. The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen-portraits of almost everyone he knows. If the novel were to be published, it would ruin lives--meaning that there are a lot of people who might want him silenced. When Quine is found brutally murdered under bizarre circumstances, it becomes a race against time to understand the motivation of a ruthless killer, a killer unlike any Strike has encountered before.

To be honest, I don’t think I would have read this book if I’d not known that Robert Galbraith was J.K. Rowling. That’s not an aspersion on the quality of the book itself; however, several mystery books come out every year, how many of them actually get pulled into the light? But The Silkworm did, because, well, it’s the second book in the new mystery series by Rowling.

The blurb does a good job of explaining the plot and Glenister narrates the audiobook well, especially the character of Cormoran Strike. It’s clear from the audio version that Cormoran is a gruff and large man, a good employer and a kind man. I personally think that women always make better audiobook narrators because they have a broader range of voice modulation for both male and female characters. Most male audio narrators make women sound as if they are screeching, whispering, or flat-out childish. Glenister doesn't do that, so that's to his credit.

There is a lot of focus on the actual process of detective work, even the smaller daily rituals (sometimes more than the focus on the dangerous side of a detective’s work). Inevitably, therefore, the book is not very fast-paced and despite the dark tenor of the premise, there wasn’t really a time when I was on tenterhooks as to what would happen next. Well, The Silkworm is definitely not a “thriller”. But the whodunit reveal towards the end was quite unexpected, and for that, The Silkworm gets brownie points. I haven't read the first book in the series, so I can also tell you that The Silkworm can be read as a standalone, which is something that Rowling aka Galbraith has always managed exceptionally well.

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lexlingua: (fanfiction)
"Truth is the daughter of time, not of authority."
-- Francis Bacon
The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey took me by surprise. A mystery book-- arguably, again in the top ten list of most mystery fans-- which begins when a convalescing detective from Scotland Yard finds something wrong in the portrait of King Richard III of England.



Josephine Tey re-creates one of history's most famous -- and vicious -- crimes in her classic bestselling novel, a must read for connoisseurs of fiction, now with a new introduction by Robert Barnard

Inspector Alan Grant of Scotland Yard, recuperating from a broken leg, becomes fascinated with a contemporary portrait of Richard III that bears no resemblance to the Wicked Uncle of history. Could such a sensitive, noble face actually belong to one of the world's most heinous villains -- a venomous hunchback who may have killed his brother's children to make his crown secure? Or could Richard have been the victim, turned into a monster by the usurpers of England's throne? Grant determines to find out once and for all, with the help of the British Museum and an American scholar, what kind of man Richard Plantagenet really was and who killed the Little Princes in the Tower.

The Daughter of Time is an ingeniously plotted, beautifully written, and suspenseful tale, a supreme achievement from one of mystery writing's most gifted masters.



Well, take a look at the picture to your right. Do you think this is a good man, or a bad man? Or is it simply a man in suffering? Is it even possible to deduce character from the lines on one's face? The real deal is that this man is Richard III, who has been condemned in most history books-- including school textbooks-- as the evil uncle who killed off his two very young nephews in order to usurp the throne of England. Grant (our hero detective)  who suffers from acute boredom in the hospital, decides to dapple into the mystery of this much reviled man.
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lexlingua: (Divinity)
The Man Who Was Thursday, the title alone makes you want to grab the book. It definitely helps that since its publication in 1908, the book has gone through a series of covers, each better than the next.

The book begins with a poem called the ‘Nightmare’, which I posted on my blog recently, and seems to suggest that the entire book was just a horrid old dream. The first chapter too paints a psychedelic imagery of red brick houses and red sunset and a red haired man, i.e. the Saffron Park. It does all feel like a dream, till two poets begin to debate on whether order or chaos is the true spirit of poetry. I kid you not, one of these poets is a man of law (an underclothes policeman called Gabriel Syme) and the other poet is an anarchist named Gregory.

I have read that Anarchists in the early 1900s regularly shot people and Presidents and caused ‘reigns of terror’. (That is an exaggeration, no, it isn't.) They may not call themselves that anymore, but every secessionist movement and every terrorist outfit is definitely a manifestation of anarchism?

Anyway, to cut a long story short, the debate gets really heated, and Gabriel Syme outwits Gregory to reveal some unsavoury secrets. With some quick and clever thinking, our genius and poetic hero, Syme, manages to infiltrate a band of anarchists, called the Council. Each member of this Council is named after a day of the week (here lies a hint), and Syme is appointed to the post of Thursday. Syme’s real goal is to flout the plans of the Council, save the world, and expose the notorious head of the gang, the man everyone calls Bloody Sunday. Will Syme succeed?

Stop here, if you don’t want me to ruin the book for you with my spoilers.

Read the rest of Spoiler-Filled Review.... )
lexlingua: (UserPic)
Today I couldn't resist myself and bought The Complete Father Brown Stories by G.K. Chesterton. I have been meaning to read up on Father Brown for a really long time now-- he is supposed to be the most famous detective after Sherlock Holmes. In fact, in most of the greatest mystery books's lists, you will not find a single Sherlock Holmes mystery, but you'll definitely find Father Brown.

Father Brown is not as dashing or energetic as the Robert Downey Jr. version, nor is he as striking a personality as the Granada versions's Jeremy Brett. (I'm not going to mention the BBC modern make-over version here, except that I just did.) Father Brown is one of those unassuming, ordinary-looking average men who are more than what they appear on the surface. He carries an umbrella, wears his monkish robes, fumbles and stammers (not sure about this one). He is a man of religion-- a priest sleuth-- though in the mystery genre, the detective is more often, a man of science. But as Father Brown will tell you, a detective need not be a man of religion OR science, but only of reason.

Anyways, the first story I read is The Blue Cross. And what struck me while reading was this little gem of a passage:

"The most incredible thing about miracles is that they happen. A few clouds in heaven do come together into the staring shape of one human eye. A tree does stand up in the landscape of a doubtful journey in the exact and elaborate shape of a note of interrogation. I have seen both these things myself within the last few days. Nelson does die in the instant of victory; and a man named Williams does quite accidentally murder a man named Williamson; it sounds like a sort of infanticide. In short, there is in life an element of elfin coincidence which people reckoning on the prosaic may perpetually miss. As it has been well expressed in the paradox of Poe, wisdom should reckon on the unforeseen."

I found the story to be a small miracle too. You can get it at Adelaide Books.

And here are some mystery-solving tips from Father Brown:
#1 When tailing a criminal, always leave behind a trail of clues for the police to follow.
#2 Always remember-- a thief loves to swap the original with a duplicate.

Stay tuned for more Father Brown!

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