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Posts tagged ‘Mystery’

Finally, The Wonderful October!

In the words, of L.M. Montgomery, via Anne of Green Gables “I‘m so glad I live in a world where there are October“. I cannot think of a more perfect way to show gratitude for the month of October…fall is here and winter is on its way. It means relief for the searing heat of Indian Summer, wood fire smokes, festivals and celebration and finally a year end, where for the mad year of 2017, I can slow down a bit and take a breathe to read and write! Needless to say, I am overjoyed that October is HERE!

From a bookish perspective, I am hoping to finally get going and pick the pace up! As I write this, I am conscious of the fact that every time I have made a statement like that this year, it has turned into an unmitigated disaster! So I am keeping all my toes and fingers crossed for this month and hoping things will go as planned! To begin with, I am coming at a near close of The Pickwick Paper by Charles Dickens Read Along, organized by O. It was the longest read along ever and I was pleasantly surprised at how much I loved this book on this revisit! I will also finish the much delayed The Raj at War by Yasmin Khan and I really have to stop procrastinating and finish Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol. In terms of new books to read, a whim took over me couple of weeks back and I started re-read the Anne of Green Gables series by the brilliant L.M. Montgomery. I am currently on Book 3 – Anne of the Island and I hope to finish the series between October and November. I am also re-reading Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I have no reason to re-read this novel that I have read 1236 times, except you never need a reason to re-read an Austen! Speaking of re-reads, I was looking over O’s blog and I saw she was planning to re-read The Brother Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky again; I loved the book when I read it more than a year back with Cleo and Ruth’s more recent review was making me itch to back and read it again. Therefore I re-read The Brother Karamazov again, only this time, I take my time to ponder over many instances of brilliance of Dostoevsky, something I did not do fully, the last time in my haste to reach the end! I do not see myself getting around to it till end of the month and will probably take the whole of winter to finish it!

To end, in other reading adventures, the October round of Dewey’s 24hrsReadathon is coming up – 21st October is the date. I have been having so much fun since I joined up last October, that there is no way I am passing this one up! I have yet to decide what books I will read for the event, but I am sure, I will have PLENTY to choose from! I know for a fact that The Rector by Margaret Oliphant, recommended by Jane and pending from September will for sure be on the Reading Plan, but I have yet to decide on others! This is the 10th anniversary of the event, and the hosts are running a 30 days short challenge to celebrate the occasion and you can find the details here. Finally, there are also hosting the short run up weekend challenges to the main event – this weekend (Oct 6-7), they are asking you to read a book that has been on your TBR for more than a year – considering I have endless number of books in that category, it took me some time to narrow it down and finally I decided to ease into it with a fun mystery – The Nine Tailors by Dorothy L Sayers. I loved her when I read Busman’s Honeymoon and I am hoping to enjoy this to a T! Also for the October event, in a departure from my usual Reader only participation, I have offered my self as a host for a couple of hours, so that I can help the hosts in a small way as a show of thanks for the awesome event they have been hosting for years now!

That’s that for the month folks! Happy October and lets be thankful that we live in a world with October 😉

The Return of the Maddness – Updates on 24 hours of Non-Stop Binge Reading

Here we go –

Update 1

Hour 1  –  05:27 PM IST

The Pile –

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Let’s Start!!

Opening Survey from Dewey’s 24hour Readathon

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?

India

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?

Toss up between Bones of the Hills by Conn Iggulden & Men at Arms by Sir Terry Pratchett

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?

Something I make myself – Chocolate Fool; a concoction of Greek Yogurt, Cream and Chocolate
4) Tell us a little something about yourself!

Full Time Project Manager, Part Time Writer (wish it was in reverse) constant reader, frequent traveler, occassional cook, daughter/sister/friend and trying everyday to be a decent person
5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?

I participated in the 2016 October Readathon. The one thing I did do differently was while I still have a motely crew of books, I kept the number of books in the list on lower side, so as to not confuse myself and lose precious time in deciding what  to read next!

Update 2

Hour 4 – 08:49 PM IST

Books – Switching between Men at Arms by Terry Pratchett (Page 70) and The Histories by Herodotus (Page 255)

Take on the Books –  Herodotus is brilliant as he takes on a sweeping narrative, part history and part derived from myths, across ancient Greece, Persia, Libiya and India. I am fascinated with the descriptions of the Scythians and think they may be closely related to present day Mongols. Will look it up later. In Men at Arms, Lance Corporal Detritus (Troll), Lance Corporal Cuddy (Dwarf) and Lance Corporal Angua (Werewolf) join Vimes, Carrot, Fred and Nobby to find out what really happened the Assassins Guild! Brilliant, funny and idealistically real, Sir Terry as always takes my breathe away – I am still laughing aloud at head honchetta/honcharina/honchessa!!

Snacks Update – Dinner – Tuscany Chicken & Pasta Salad

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Update 3

Hour 8 – 00:36 AM IST

Books – Bones of the Hill – #3 The Conquerer Series by Conn Iggulden (Page 106)

Take on the Books –  One of my all time favorites! I love this entire series that Mr. Iggulden has written about the rise of Chengez Khan and his dynasty. Stripping away commonly held myths, with deep research, this historical fiction constitutes everything that a good historical fiction must have – powerful narrative that mixes easily with the time it was set in, with great story telling and accurate history! This volume is an especial favourite – the first that I ever read, and was mesmerised by he brilliant writing as I rode with Chengez Khan to conquer Persia and Europe. It also has one of my biggest book crushes of all time – Subutai is right up there is my pantheon of bestest bookboyfriends, along with Fritz William Darcy, Captain Alex Randall and Ari Ben Cannon!

Snacks Update – Water & now Coffee

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Update 4

Hour 12 – 04:31 AM IST

Books – Bones of the Hill – #3 The Conquerer Series by Conn Iggulden (Page 249)

Take on the Books –  Still loving the read. Though the change in the character of Changez Khan from a far seeing ruler to someone blinded by personal prejudice is a bit difficult to digest, but then sometimes success does change a person completely. The narrative is still brilliant and I who usually skip battle scenes, is hooked on page to page. Subutai still rocks!

Snacks Update – Sandwich and Rose Tea to fight of slight onset of sluggishness!

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Mid-Event Survey!  
1. What are you reading right now?

Bones of the Hill by Conn Iggulden

2. How many books have you read so far?

Half way through two different books

3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?

Reading till the end with minimum or no sleep…can my body do it? that’s the question!

4. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?

Some, but good interruptions; using them as breaks!

5. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far?

How much I still enjoy the event! Also trying to keep up on social media can be a tad taxing!

Update 5

Hour 19 – 11:46 AM IST

Books – Bones of the Hill – #3 The Conquerer Series by Conn Iggulden (Page 260)

Miscellaneous Note – no traction as fell off to sleep for 5 hours! 😦

Snacks Update – Masala Tea to get the day going!

Update 6

Hour 23 – 04:01 PM IST

Books – Bones of the Hill – #3 The Conqueror Series by Conn Iggulden (Completed) Men at Arms by Terry Pratchett (Page 107)

Take on the Book – As always, Bones of the Hill leaves me speechless. The rise and the betrayal are overwhelming and it leaves much to ponder over, especially when one cannot really dismiss the thoughts under the guise of fiction. The rise of the Mongols did happen and what the great Khan went through despite all the negative history surrounding him, cannot be evaded Mr. Iggulden tries to give Subutai the due he deserves in the books of history – unfortunately, the Mongols produced a host of brilliant men 800 years ago and giving space to all of them is an ask. Despite the author manages to etch out the great General’s character and bring in the more humane side of him, especially when he leaves for his final command under Chengez Khan; your heart torn as you see one of the best General’s is history of warfare struggle to keep his loyalty to the Man who had raised him and to the boy who looked up to him. One of the best pieces of historical fiction, where Mongols, come alive and you can hear the war cries assaulting you from the pages of the book!

Snacks Update – Lunch – Traditional Indian Dal (Legumes) Rice & Saag baji (Spinach fry)

Update 7

Hour 24 – 05: 28 PM IST

Books –  Men at Arms by Terry Pratchett (Page 213)& The Histories by Herodotus (Page 321)

Take on the Book – Brilliant, intuitive, kind and hilarious – simply put. vintage Terry Pratchet

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Snacks Update – Tea

Closing Survey

1. Which hour was most daunting for you?

Early morning – around 6:00 AM

2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a reader engaged for next year?

  • Historical Fiction – The Conquerer Series by Conn Iggulden
  • Fantasy/Humor – The Discworld Series, especially the Vimes & The Witches novels by Terry Pratchet

3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next season?

I think you guys are just perfect! Though I think the Goodreads page could be simplified instead of multiple threads!

4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?

I think the Mini Challenges were awesome!

5. How many books did you read?

2.5

6. What were the names of the books you read?

  • Bones of the Hills by Conn Iggulden
  • Men at Arms by Terry Pratchet
  • The Histories by Herodotus

7. Which book did you enjoy most?

Bones of the Hills by Conn Iggulden

8. Which did you enjoy least?

NA…I chose well this year! I loved everything I read!

9. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?

I repeat, once again, on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the highest, I would say 20! Role would be a Reader, maybe even a host!

The Return of the 24 Hour Madness….

I have not been keeping well for sometime now, sleepless nights due to sever bronchial asthma. The biggest project of my career goes live on May 1st and it could set me up for next 3 years or make me look up other jobs! Minor domestic crisis continue to plague me. Life can hardly be called a bed of roses; but do I care? Am I really worried that my life is falling apart?!?!?! Nope…the only thing I give a damm about at this point is that the Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon is BACK!!! April 29th, 8:00 AM EDT the non-stop reading binge starts!!! Wooohooooo……I CANNOT wait!

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My first Readathon was last year in October when I stumbled on Brona’s post on her Readathon prep. This is exactly why you need friends…..to drag you and tempt you into madcap adventures! Of course, not that I really need tempting to read a new book or participate in reading events! Anyhow, I attempted it last year and had a ball! Scratch that, I had a ball time 10! There is no way I was passing the April event up, even if it meant working late into the night to ensure Project launch on Monday goes smooth and I have the weekend to READ!!!

Now to proceed to matters, of actual importance – what do we read??!!! That, delicate and difficult question, that haunts each reader’s life; such a wonderful pain! I have my list all set, though again, I am not really sure, if I will be able to cover all or some or even in the end, throw up all the careful planning, to re-read Harry Potter, but for now this is what it looks like

  1. The Histories by Herodotus – Many of you are aware that I am reading this with Cleo and Ruth as part Reading The Histories for The Well Educated Mind Reading Challenge. Both Ruth and Cleo have finished while I lag woefully behind. Having said that, I am loving this narrative and I hope to cover some significant portion, through the Readathon
  2. Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol  – This comic satire of Russian feudalism and bureaucracy set in 19th century is an absolutely wonder to read. Again, this is something I am reading with Cleo and again while my progress is slow, I hope, seriously hope to make some progress over the weekend!
  3. An Incident of the Fingerpost by Ian Pears – A whodunit is a must to break the monotony, especially if it’s a whodunit set in medieval England! Really looking forward to this one!
  4. Bones of the Hills – #3 The Great Conquer by Conn Iggulden – Can I possibly do any reading event, without atleast on hardcore Historical Fiction. The answer naturally is a big NO!!! This time I revisit and re-read an old favorite; Conn Iggulden’s marvelously researched tale of Chengiz Khan and his army is a fascinating read, away from all incorrect myths and gory descriptions. I finished Part 1 & 2 over this last week and now move on to part 3.
  5. Men at Arms by Sir Terry Pratchett – Could I possibly consider any reading event as complete, without one homage to a comic and humane narrative of mankind and its his frivolousness? Nope!! We go “detectoring” with Commander Vimes and his crew in the greatest city of Discworld, Ankh-Morpork!

My update style will remain same! I will have a 24 hour open blog update which I will try and update every 3 odd hours. I will also try to be more diligent and in fact use the Twitter and Goodreads pages for well needed breaks!

My cheering squad, I look at the same two – Brona & Cleo – some serious cheering required!!

This should be yet another restful weekend, which  should ensure I am all ready for the big launch come Monday! However, Monday is still far and for now, LET’S READ! Counting down the last few hours!

Murder in an American Farm

As part of my Victober Reads, I decided to read The Dead Alive by Wilkie Collins as part of the Read a Victorian novel where a plot is afoot category! This novella was one of Collins’s earlier works and is supposedly based on a true story, based on the Broon Brother murder case.

The plot unlike other Collin’s plots, is based away from England and set in rural America.Philip Lefrank, an overworked and now sick lawyer is advised by his doctors to take a break from work for the sake of his health. He therefore sets off to America to visit some cousins of his who run a farm – The Medowcroft of the Morwick Farm. He arrives at Morwick station and is met my Issac Medowcroft’s eldest son – Ambrose, who appears to be a handsome and personable individual and who entertains Lefrank with interesting and candid conversation all the way to their journey to the Mrowick Farm.There he finally meets his host and the patriarch of the family Issac Medowcroft, his daughter, his daughter, a grim faced unhappy looking Miss Medowcroft and their cousin, Naomi Colebrook, with whom Ambrose seemed to be in love. The atmosphere of the house seemed strained and Lefrank was glad to retire to his own room. When he came down for dinner that night, he was introduced to the younger brother Silas and yet another person, John Jago who apparently ran the farm on behalf of Issac Medowcroft. It is soon apparent to Lefrank that things are not as they seem and there are tensions and undercurrents at play in between the Medowcroft household. The brothers do not like John Jago who seems to have the good opinion and trust of the elder Medowcroft and Miss Medowcroft for sure did not like Naomi Colebrook.  After dinner, Naomi, seeks an interview with Lefrank and shares her angst about the continuing tension and unpleasantness in the household and seeks his help in trying to speak to the brothers. It is at this point John Jago approaches Naomi and requests to speak to her, to which Naomi agrees, setting of a series of events, with unforeseen results.

This is not perhaps one of the best works of Collin’s and it lacks the plot tenacity of The Moonstone or the Women in White. But it is Collin’s and till the end, you are kept guessing what and who? The ensemble of characters like all of  Collin’s works have a large range -the now enfeebled patriarch, the angry woman scorned, the gentle heroine, the good brother and the weakling and the strange outsider. You name it and they are all there and they are woven so  well in the plot that it seems like taking even one of them out would leave a gaping hole in the narrative.The women do seem to verge at two ends of the spectrum, but this was a Victorian man writing the novel and allowances have to be made for that day and age!  The narrative without doubt the tale is kind of uni-dimensional. the length of the novella and the vivid characterization ensures that the story does not come across as flat. It straight forward no frills and no gore writing that brings the reader to the climatic end, smoothly and tries up the lose ends cleanly.

A very good one time, read it through the night novella!

The Madness Updates

Beloweth are the updates of my valiant attempts at this 24 hour readathon!!

Update 1

Hour 1  –  18:47 IST

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins.

Page 112 of 323

Take on the Book – intriguing. Seems to be veering around cliches but yet not fall into them. Difficulty in developing empathy for the protagonist; but its getting better so one never knows!

Snacks Update -Water & Nuts

Update 2

Hour 4 – 20:40 IST

Still on The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins.

Page 201 of 323

Take on the Book –  Still intriguing. Cannot like the protagonist; she goes around doing nasty things and then cannot believe she has done it! No idea why everyone has patience with her! Plot line seems to go around traditional damsel-in-distress-syndrome where only a strong but have suffered much man can redeem the protagonist. If I was not curious as to who the killer is, I would have barfed  by now! But I plod on!

Snacks Update – Butter Milk – the bestest drink in India!

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Update 3

Hour 6.5 – 00:00 IST

Finished The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins.

Thinking of Starting The Book of Snobs by WM Thackery and then varying the pace even more by also starting on the Land of Seven Rivers by Sandeep Sanyal

Take on the Book – Some bits cliches and some bit contrived but still very readable, at least a good one time, curl up and read it on kind of read. There are parts that you get completely hooked on to as well plot turns that are clever and your appreciate the craftsmanship of it it! But not startlingly HAVE TO READ variety!

Snacks Update – Took a break and had Dinner with flatmate!

Update 4

Hour 10 – 2:39 IST

Started reading Land of the Seven Rivers: A Brief History of India’s Geography by Sanjeev Sanyal

Page 41 of 352

Take on the Book – Easy to read for a layman. Shares interesting information about how Geography shaped the evolution of Indian History, though I do feel a very strong Right wing leaning! But then that may be nothing and I am only on Chapter 2 for now.

Snacks Update – Water/Milk and the much awaited English Shortbread

Note – Maybe last post of the night as really need to get some shut eye to be bright eyed and all active for remaining day tomorrow!

Update 5

Hour 15.5 – 8:00 IST

Woke up an hour back after napping for couple of hours. Finished early morning chores and now back in the “Reading Zone”!

Continuing with Land of the Seven Rivers: A Brief History of India’s Geography by Sanjeev Sanyal

Page 69 of 352

Take on the Book – Well researched. Provides Historic and scientific insights to keep the narrative grounded in facts. But still cannot quite overcome the feeling of Right wing leanings, especially since we all know facts can manipulated to prove anything! But still early in to the book to draw a firm conclusion!

Snacks Update – Masala Tea

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View of the valley, which my apartment overlooks. This is what my balcony opens to & my favorite reading spot

Also because I missed the Mid -Event Survey, posted about 2 hours ago, on account of it being like 6:00 am and snooze time, I post the updates now –

Mid-Event Survey

1. What are you reading right now?

Land of the Seven Rivers: A Brief History of India’s Geography by Sanjeev Sanyal

2. How many books have you read so far?

1…I think speed reading is not my thing!

3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?

The one I am currently reading!

4. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?

Some. Despite pre-planning people did call, though I managed to keep the conversations short!

5. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far?

The adrenaline! I never realized the rush one gets in this kind of break neck virtual club reading event!

Update 6

Hour 19 – 11:00 IST

I cannot believe I am feeling so very nostalgic about the up coming closure! I will so miss this event!!

Continuing with Land of the Seven Rivers: A Brief History of India’s Geography by Sanjeev Sanyal

Page 119 of 352

Take on the Book – Well researched. Some very intresting learnings. Like the Yezhedi Tribe in Iran shares common DNA with the North Indian population and that there seems to be a movement of this population not only from Iran to India but also back to India. Extremely well written descriptions of the epics connecting with current Indian fauna and flora, proving the possibility that the events of Ramayana and Mahabharata may have actually happened. The only take is, this is a well researched and well written history, the claim to geography remains limited to the two major highways that link India north and south and east and west, which have in operation since centuries.

Snacks Update – Big Lazy Sunday Breakfast – Very English! Toast, Eggs, Sausages, Pot of Tea and Juice. Sunday indulgences, since Monday to Saturday its oats or cornflakes!

A friend of mine shared this on Facebook and I think it sums my Readathon Sunday just perfectly!

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Update 7

Hour 21- 13:52 IST

Boooohoooooo!! Someone make the time stop!!

Continuing with Land of the Seven Rivers: A Brief History of India’s Geography by Sanjeev Sanyal. Also started on The Book of Snobs by WM Thackeray for change in variety.

Page 147 of 352 for the former and Page 26 of 130 for later

Take on the Book –  Land of Seven Rivers is getting better by the minute. Loving the rich historical and now significantly enriched geographical history that shaped the fortunes and lives of India, both land based and maritime. Loaded with facts and filled with some very interesting insights into the neglected everyday history of common man, I am at this point super impressed with the book . One of the best Historical reads in a long time. Thackeray is brilliant as always, but I will do a separate review for his book as part of my Victober Reading Update!

Snacks Update – Lunch –  Grilled Fish

Update 8

Hour 24- 16:37 IST

This is the end, my friend!

Continuing with Land of the Seven Rivers: A Brief History of India’s Geography by Sanjeev Sanyal. Also read up  The Book of Snobs by WM Thackeray for change in variety.

Page 278 of 352 for the former and Page 56 of 130 for later

Take on the Book –  Land of Seven Rivers is the HIGHLIGHT of this reading event for me. Rarely am I ever so impressed with Indian Historians but Mr.Sanyal’s work is indeed quite good. In-depth research, an easy to read narrative, that mixes facts with some wonderful lesser known nuggets of history. For the first time, after many years of reading History, I had a sense of Ah! So that’s how that happened!! Having said that, the geography part of the book is limited. Its picks up and then loses the strain and does not quite fulfill the promise of a “geographic history”. There is of course a distinct right wing /nationalist twang to the book, but it is not a blind absolutely fundamentalist approach. It’s more of a belief system that kind of guides the narrative.

Snacks Update – Yougurt

The 24 Hours Madness

Ok….so here’s a discovery, well not really a discovery, more of declaration of a well known fact – I am completely and obviously crazy!! Yes, I am aware that many of you always thought so, but I guess I am pointing out the obvious!!

After an extremely stressful week at work, where I got less than cumulative of 28 hours of sleep, I am happy that the weekend is finally here! I have a lot of things to do including cleaning the house and getting some shopping done, which HAS to be done because next week is Diwali, the big festival of the Indians! I have some reading and blogging planned as well, but nothing out of the usual. I am all set and I have a plan and schedule for the two days, that is until I decide to casually scroll through Twitter and stumble on some comments by Brona and bam! all plans are in disarray and there is a whole new plan in place!

What am I ranting about you ask? I am referring to the bi-annual Dewey’s Readathon, which kick starts on Oct 24th 2016 at 8:00 AM EST which translates to 17:30 Indian Standard Time and for which, I hang my head in shame as I say this, I have SIGNED UP! The idea of course is to read non-stop or with mini stops for 24 hours straight! You can find the details and whats and hows here.

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Yes, I can hear the “naturallys”, but come on, how can I pass up a reading event???!!? I will hold of the cleaning till Monday and I will negotiate the shopping time, opting for online stuff if need be. But participate I shall, even if I do not make it to the participant list, on account of signing up a bit too late!

Anyhow, now that my ranting and self motivation and self exoneration is over, let us proceed to matters of greater significance like, what shall we read? There are loads of suggestions on the website and after scrolling through quite a bit, this is what I came up with – a mix of many things!!

  1. The Girl on the Train by Patricia Hawkes – am on page 62 as of today and shall attempt to finish via Readathon
  2. New York by Edward Rutherford – This one is a chunkster and I have only waded to page 183 so far so, only approximately 680 [pages to go; but its historical fiction and Rutherford does write extremely gripping plots, so I am kind of kicked about it
  3. Dombey and Sons by Charles Dickens – Yes, I am still struggling to finish this! Yes I know I am really dragging this out and yes! I do have every intention of finishing it!
  4. The Book of Snobs by William Makepeace Thackeray – This combines well with with my Victober event and breaks the monotony of serious reading. Thackeray’s take on on people who look down on those considered as “socially inferior” should be interesting. Page count 143 per Kindle Edition
  5. Land of the Seven Rivers: A Brief History of India’s Geography by Sanjeev Sanyal – Just because I am curious and because I need to variety while reading. Page count 352 per Kindle Editio
  6. Five Little Pigs by Agatha Christie – When the chips are down and interest flags, who but the brilliant Ms. Christie can keep us going! Look forward to keeping me going in this story of miscarriage of justice which I have for some reason never read before!Page count 286 per Kindle Edition
  7. Jerusalem  – A Biography by Simon Sebag Montefiore – It’s History, its Middle Eastern History and the first couple of pages are very very good! Page Count 628 of which I have read 94.
  8. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – You have to allow me one Austen to keep my spirits up towards the end when everything buzzes! I know the work by heart and I will glide through it when the going gets tough!

Now about the real time updates and such like, well I will update as I go along. I am not committing to an hour or two hours or any such frequency. More like when I need a  break and when I want to wander around a bit! I will also try and be deligent and keep one and all updated on Twitter and Goodreads and make an honest effort to make the posts interesting and hopefully nail baiting!

That seems simple enough!! I should be well rested and bright eyes and bushy tailed come Monday, when another crippling work load comes crashing on my head!! In the meanwhile I hopeth, that I can convinceth Cleo and Brona to helpeth me through this task!! Guys – NEED HELP BADLY!!!!

Now that I have jumped, I will try and get some good sleep and ease in for the reading tomorrow so that come 17:30 IST, I really do set off!!

The Parisian Murders

Again, this post should have been written like anons ago, but as I have been explaining, practically in all my posts of May, that, Travel, illness, weddings and other social events kind of got me completely off tracked….however, I am back and like they say, lets get the show moving. As part of 12 Months Classical Reading Challenge, where the April theme was “A classic you’ve seen the movie/miniseries/TV show of”, I read Murders at Rue Morgue by Edgar Allen Poe. Now, as God be my witness, with so many films and television shows based on books, I have no idea why at that point I was penning the list did I choose this one! Except, that I made the list right after the Winter holidays, where I spend another film watching marathon on every single film starring Val Kilmer. To take a minor detour from the usual book review post, let me quickly give you a background – I was 8 when I saw Top Gun….it was nearly 5 years since it had originally be released in US, but India was still playing catch up. A cousin of my best friend had gotten a VCD of film as a gift to her and we sat down to watch something that had  been cool in US 6-7 years back! Oh! Well! While my best friend drooled over Tom Cruise (natually) I was completely mesmerized by the golden haired gum chewing bad boy – Val Kilmer. I feel in love and I am still in love though I know he is old and well not as happening as he used to be, but hey…this true love and true love abides! Back to present day, while I books own my soul and I do not like films too much, there are times when I indulge and Val Kilmer movie marathon was one such indulgence. For those who do not know his film credits by heart. The Murders at Rue Morgue was a made for television movie in 1986 and had a pretty impressive star cast of George C. Scott, Rebecca De Mornay, besides Kilmer. While I saw the film, I had never read the novella and it made sense to read Poe as part of this event!

The Murder at Rue Morgue begins with the narrator sharing with the readers a theory on analytic and analysis and how the latter influences the former and then introduces us to his friend Auguste Dupin, a brilliant man not particularly social with certain eccentricities with whom the narrator shares an apartment. Their daily routines of reading through the day and writing and debating and walking the streets of Paris in the night, is disturbed as the news of the gruesome double murder of  Madame L’Espanaye and her daughter in the Rue Morgue, erupts in the city. The details of murder are bizarre and grotesque – the Madame L’Espanaye throat is badly cut that her head is barely attached and her daughter, after being strangled, has been stuffed into the chimney. The murder occurs in an inaccessible room on the fourth floor locked from the inside. The neighbors who heard the screams of the two women and ran into the house claim that they heard two voices talking – one in French and the other in another language, which each neighbor accounted for differently; one called it Italian, another Spanish, yet another English and another said Russian. There seemed no clear motive for murder either ; the mother and daughter were quite retiring ladies who saw very few people, but  shared a mutual affection. It was an interesting fact that Madame L’Espanaye had made a withdrawal of $4000 a day before her murder, but the money was found stewen all over the chamber. The police arrested the clerk who worked in the bank and has escorted Madame L’Espanaye back to her house, after she made the withdrawal, but they are unable to establish a motive and most importantly explain the murders. Dupin who had received a favor from the bank clerk starts his investigation to clear the latter’s name and reveal a most unusual and improbable events that led to the murders.

This was the first tale where Poe had introduced his now famous Dupin and he does full justice to his character. Dupin is not flamboyant like his competitor Mr. Holmes and he does not display any habits like violin playing or indulging in drugs. He is however eccentric, anti-social, connoisseur of books, with brilliance that like a streak of bright light hurtling at you. The mental processes which Poe showcases through Dupin are steeped in psychology and human behavior and the reader has to pay very close attention to all the details to genuinely enjoy the marvels of a brilliant mind. The novella is not a nail biting mystery, where you are hanging on by each page, but a slow revelation in intellectual persistence and layer by layer, the mystery is revealed. The conclusion, I thought both for the film and book was a bit exotic  and sensational – but then considering the time and audience the books were being written for, it seems to also kind of fall in place.  The language is simple, but since Poe uses a lot of psychological analysis in moving his plot forward, it is not a breezy mystery read to be rushed through! A very fine read and though I have not yet given up my devotion to Holmes, I have every intention of exploring a bit more of Mr. Dupin’s mind!

A final P.S. note before I end this post – this film is the an example of very reason why I do not like watching films based on books! On reading the novella, I discovered there is no Horace (Val Kilmer) and Dupin played by Scott is an old retired police officer who was discharged from the police force for disagreeing with the chief! There is his daughter played by De Mornay who is engaged to philandering but innocent of the murder bank clerk! I understand taking artistic liberties, but this is just stretching the whole liberty to a new height!! Stick to the books I say!

 

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