Monday, 29 April 2013

D is for Double, Double by Ellery Queen

This is my post for Letter D for Crime Fiction Alphabet 2013.

Do you remember this nursery rhyme?

Rich Man, Poor Man,
Beggar Man, Thief,

What comes next? Does it matter? It does. Somebody is killing off people according to this rhyme. First the 'town miser' died. Nobody knew he was a rich man. Then the rich man committed suicide. Only he wasn't rich. He was bankrupt and only way out was suicide. When the 'town drunkard' disappeared, it wasn't difficult for Ellery Queen to guess that he was also the 'beggar man' and somebody was killing people probably with no reason but in accordance to a rhyme. Next, the thief was killed before the eyes of Ellery Queen. Will he find out who comes next? And stop the killings? Everything is not as it seems. Everything is Double, Double. There are various versions of the rhyme, which one is the serial killer following?

Did I guess the killer? I did, but then I didn't! Everything is Double, Double. Here is my full review.

Monday, 22 April 2013

C is for The Case of the Late Pig by Margery Allingham

This is my post for Letter C for Crime Fiction Alphabet 2013.

Do you love Wooster and Jeeves? Imagine Wooster and Jeeves solving a murder mystery. A mystery where the same man is dead twice and once murdered! And the man a school bully known to everybody as 'Pig' Peters. This mystery narrated by Albert Campion has a definite Wodehouseian feel to it. The interactions between Campion and Lugg, the village and its characters are straight out of a Wodehouse novel.

The story starts with the announcement of R I Peters funeral in the 'Deaths' column in the newspaper and an anonymous letter addressed to Campion about Peters' death. As a school boy, Campion promised to attend 'Pig' Peters funeral after an unpleasant bullying incident in school. And Campion attends the funeral as promised.

Few months later, Campion starts a murder investigation. Who do you think is dead, this time? It's our late Pig Peters again. So what is happening here? Who killed Peters? Who is sending the anonymous letters to Campion? If Peters was dead this time, who died before? Whose funeral did Campion attend? Can one person die twice?

While part of the mystery may be guessed, part of it is not so obvious, this is a short novel with lots of fun.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

The Oracle Code by Charles Brokaw

After reading The Da Vinci Code, I am in constant search for historical thrillers with some history, intrigue, lots of puzzles, science, mythology and twists and turns. The Oracle Code by Charles Brokaw published as an ebook in 2012, is the fourth book featuring Thomas Lourds, Linguistics Professor from Harvard. I haven't read the first three books: The Atlantis Code, The Lucifer Code and The Temple Mount Code.

In this book, Thomas Lourds is working with his archaeological friends in Afghanistan trying to solve the code in an ancient scroll written in an ancient language. Boris, Lourds' friends, is looking for the tomb of Alexander and he discovers a scroll that could lead him to the tomb. While tomb of Alexander is of importance to Archeologists and historians, why is the Russian President Nevsky interested in the tomb? What is so special about the tomb that he employs an assassin to follow Boris and Lourds closely? Is there really something in that tomb that could regain the glory of Russia? It is not just Russians interested in the work of these Archaeologist, most of the work happens in Afghanistan so Taliban also shows some interest. Will these Archaeologist find the tomb of Alexander against all these forces?

What I really liked in Dan Brown's books is that the clues, puzzles etc are shared with the readers and readers can have a go at solving them. While I understand it is not possible for readers to solve something written in an ancient language, still I wish there was something for me to solve, and the only puzzle shared is quite obvious. It is not really interesting to say Lourds is sitting in his room trying to decipher something in an ancient language, is it?

The Russian angle is interesting showing the conflict between new Russia and Old Russia. The need to move ahead and the nostalgic feeling to bring back the glory of the lost past is shown by the journalist Anna Cherkshan and her father, General Anton Cherkshan. The young journalist represents the New Russia ready to embrace capitalism and ready to bring to light the atrocious plans of the tyrants, the General has seen the glorious USSR and wants to bring back the glory to the broken Russia.. But I feel the sudden change in the General in the end is quite out of character. We also get a glimpse of Ukraine and its political state and conflict.

The starting and the ending sequences are thrilling but I wish there were more twists and turns. I have a problem with the ending, Lourds goes looking for something but finds something else and the story ends, meaning it doesn't really end. I wish it is more conclusive, he finds what he goes looking for, and finishes this mission.

DISCLAIMER: I received a free ebook in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated for my opinion or this post.

Monday, 15 April 2013

B is for Below Suspicion

This is my post for Letter B for Crime Fiction Alphabet 2013.

We all know what Above Suspicion is. But what is below suspicion? In Below Suspicion by John Dickson Carr , featuring Barrister Patrick Butler, Dr.Gideon Fell explains that in a murder investigation no one is above suspicion. But some are below suspicion, like the investigator, the butler, maid, and servants who have no motive. In this book, the murder is committed by somebody below suspicion. With such a big clue, did I figure who the murderer is? No! Carr has created a perfect smokescreen I couldn't see the truth until the revelation. Here is the synopsis:

Patrick Butler, a barrister, is one hell of a defending lawyer nicknamed 'the Great Defender', he could always get his client free out of prison, even when he is sure that his client is guilty. Patrick is never wrong and he never loses his case. Joyce Ellis is accused of poisoning Mrs.Taylor. Joyce worked as a companion-nurse-secretary to Mrs.Taylor and pleads vehemently that she is innocent. Patrick feels otherwise.

When Mrs.Taylor's relative Richard Renshaw also dies by poisoning by the same substance, suspicion falls on his beautiful, blonde seductive wife Lucia. Should I say Patrick falls for Lucia and believes she is innocent? Can he prove that Lucia is innocent? Who killed Mrs.Taylor and why? Who killed Renshaw? Patrick Butler, brilliant though he is, now needs the help of Gideon Fell to solve this case.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Arctic Chill by Arnaldur Indridason

Ten-year old boy Elias is found stabbed to death near a block of flats near his home in Reykjavik. Elias is of mixed Thai and Icelandic origin. Is it the reason for what happened to the young boy? Is his killing related to the recent argument over immigration in his school? Or is his half-brother implicated? Is there some other unknown reason for killing? Is his death related to drug dealing in the school grounds? Detective Erlendur along with his team tackle this case.

I read Hypothermia by Arnaldur Indridason last year. While the mystery was very obvious, the book was quite haunting and Arnaldur creates quite a chilling atmosphere in Hypothermia.

As the dead boy is of mixed origin, Arnaldur takes on the issue of immigration in Iceland. We get arguments from all the sides. The anti-immigrant teacher, who vehemently hates immigrants and is quite vocal about it. The hardworking immigrant trying to make a decent life trying to stick to her language and facing problems learning a new language. The immigrant teenager who does not belong anywhere, who feels he is 'neither nor'. Neither an Icelander nor a Thai. The tolerant Icelander who does not mind immigrants and pro-immigrant Icelander who welcomes immigrants from his own personal experience. Yes! Yes! This is a crime novel but this is the major issue that it deals with. Erlendur meets all these arguments during his investigation. But this is not the only angle the investigation takes. Erlendur finds that there may be a paedophile residing in the area and not difficult to guess who. The case becomes complex when Sunee, Elias's mother doesn't trust the police and hides information and her other son. And there is the question of Sunee's elusive boyfriend. Is he somehow involved? Why didn't Erlendur impress on Sunee that she cannot hide important information?

Erlendur's back story of losing his brother in a blizzard is repetitive as I read all that in Hypothermia, though Hypothermia follows Arctic Chill and I never read books in order. Couldn't help wondering if his back story will feature in all his stories in detail. Arctic Chill is not as haunting or chilling like Hypothermia but here I couldn't guess the killer. Well, nobody could. I am looking forward to read other Reykjavik murder mysteries especially the one that won the CWA Gold Dagger. This one didn't win, the cover is misleading. This book is published in English in 2008 and translated from Icelandic by Bernard Scudder and Victoria Cribb.

This is my post for Letter A for Crime Fiction Alphabet 2013 and counts towards various challenges.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Crime Fiction Alphabet 2013

Crime Fiction Alphabet 2013 hosted by Kerrie @ Mysteries in Paradise, begins Monday 8 April, that is, tomorrow. Last year I participated in this community meme and got some great crime fiction recommendations, got introduced to some great blogs and bloggers. So I am signing up again.

Here are the rules

By Friday of each week you have to write a blog post about crime fiction related to the letter of the week.

Your post MUST be related to either the first letter of a book's title, the first letter of an author's first name, or the first letter of the author's surname, or even maybe a crime fiction "topic".
So you see you have lots of choice.
You could write a review, or a bio of an author, so long as it fits the rules somehow.
(It is ok too to skip a week.).
In the past participants have shown considerable creativity with extra rules imposed on themselves: e.g. authors only, crime fiction from a particular country only etc.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Two Evils by P J Tracy

The story starts with the kidnapping of four small girls from a Reservation, then a war veteran goes rogue killing terrorists and then the story moves on to a terrorist plot to kill all the 'infidels' on a particular day. Will Monkeewrech team along with Magozzi and Gino save the day? So where does Monkeewrench come into it. They are a group of guys now writing educational games, sometimes helping FBI catch culprits. Grace of Monkeewrench team, after several close encounters with serial killers, is gone sailing with John Smith, FBI, and confronts assassins trying to kill him. Who wants John Smith dead? Then it looks like there is a 'jihad' against John Smith, so anybody associated with him could be an easy target and so our dear Monkeewrench team is in danger of being annihilated. Gino and Magozzi find a war veteran killed in a shooting in Little Mogadishu and they find that he is also probably responsible for another killing in the area. Then all these seemingly unconnected events come together bringing out a greater plot to cause violence and havoc.

The mother and daughter team of P J Tracy are among authors I look forward to read. I read 'Want to play?' a few years ago. I was a gamer, not the First Person Shooter kind, but strategy and Simulation kind and a serial killer story related to video games and a team of Video games creating geeks involved in solving the case, appealed to me. I loved the story, twist and turns and most of all I loved the characters Grace, Annie, Harley and Roadrunner. I read two other books by P J Tracy. I don't remember much, but I think I liked them.

In this story, one of the two evils is not evil at least not to the authors, even though Gino has an existential crisis, 'what do you do to guys who kill evil guys?' The surprise in the end, is no surprise and can be easily guessed. There are some small surprises but that's it. It is a short novel and I would definitely like to have seen more of the Monkeewrench team in this book. Oh poor Grace! She may hide in Mars but violence will follow her. Not the best book by the mother and daughter team of writers. If you want to try them, 'Want to Play?' is an interesting thriller and far better book than this one.