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November 30, 2012

Book Review - 102 : Secret of the Scribe





Author : Douglas Misquita
Publisher : Lead Start Publishing

A cave-expedition to the remote borders of China and Tibet unearth enigmatic discs that are believed to be of extraterrestrial origin. But their discovery is quickly squashed and erased from official records. When venture capitalist Mark Steinberg launches Linguistics, Inc. and unveils cutting-edge Nanotechnology-based communication, an enthralled human race is ready to proclaim the written and spoken word a thing of the past. 

But unknown to the world, Linguistics is setting the stage for total control. Leading the scattered resistance movement, Lance Michener wants to shut down the Linguistics network before the damage is total and irreversible. At the center of the conflict is the hunt for the mythical Book of Thoth - the Book of Wisdom of the Gods; a Book that contains the secrets of the language of all earthly species and languages yet unknown. And as Linguistics ushers in an era of global mind control, the race is on to prevent The Book from falling into the wrong hands.

Douglas pack in the same elements of fast pace adrenaline pumping action sequences as his debut novel, Haunted. Transported through various locales, the narrative remains true to its sequence of events though clearly the cliches of good vs evil are carried in yet again done-to-death scenes. Where the author does set up the plot competently, he falls short in building an interesting central character or even bit-piece players who are worth rooting for. Instead, we get long passages detailing the settings - from confrontation scenes to near escapes, from action sequences to mythical creatures but the emotional connect is sorely missing as a reader. The author knows this material inside out, but the way it has been put forward makes it an exercise in excess. 

I am going with 3/5 for Douglas Misquita's second offering, 'Secret of the Scribe'. It is well mentioned and researched book, but it requires deft touches of a publisher and editor to market and trim the material respectively. A voice which needs to be encouraged because of a unique style and scarcity of such fiction in Indian arena, but not before doing a lot of basic things right.

November 25, 2012

Book Review - 101 : The Celestial Hunt




Publisher : Kaveri Pathippakam
Author : R. Devikumar

The plot starts in the city of Vizag -India, with Rajesh, the son of a renowned writer Ram, picking up a mysterious book named “Providential Psyches’ authored by Sangfrod.In the meantime, Eliza meets Graham on Boracay Island – Philippines, and presents him with a painting with the name Sangfrod engraved at its bottom and asks him to decipher it. Anil, physicist and the protagonist, designs a time machine and selects three people – a wicked politician, a powerful religious leader notorious for inciting communal tensions and a terrorist kingpin, for a time travel.

The author starts with an interesting premise and that particular interest in the exploring this genre is evident from the preface itself. He makes some genuine observations about the time travel and situations the various characters find themselves in but the writing is full of grammatical, punctuation, spelling and English usage is particularly terrible. All this takes away from the experience of reading the book which is sad because it had the potential to be much better.

I am going with 1.5/5 for R.Devikumar's 'Celestial Hunt'. It deserved better editing and publishing, it would have been far more rewarding read.

November 21, 2012

Book Review - 100 : (In)eligible Bachelors




Author : Ruchita Misra
Publisher : Rupa & Co

Written in the form of a diary in the first person, the book talks about Misra’s protagonist, Kasturi Shukla, a 24 year old pretty middle-class girl from one of India’s finest B-schools. Happy-go-lucky Kasturi has some really grave problems of her own, the topmost of which include her mother, who is hellbent upon marrying her off as soon as possible. And she wouldn't hear a NO from Kasturi on that matter. Kasturi’s father has no say in the matter and chooses to remain outside than watch mother-daughter fighting it out at home. Rest of the story is about men in her life and the complications there after.

The book works typically as yet another chick-lit, saved tremendously by witting writing by the author. It is not path breaking writing nor it intends to, but just allows you to have a time-pass read. The twist in the story is too close to the twist in Chetan Bhagat's debut novel 'Five Point Someone' and there are too many formulaic incidents for my liking. Grammatical errors apart (i read the first print), the book is fast paced and does not delve too deeply into any of the issues it claims to be handling in the narrative.


The writer makes some interesting points but coincidence is one big plot twist which is thrown in so often, it is clear that the author has taken the convenient route than a harder one. Even though occasionally indulgent, the book moves at a brisk pace and dwells little on the major plot points. The lead character, Kasturi is charming yet displays vulnerability as easily as cockiness. The author did manages to bring out the dichotomies of her life well and influence of other characters are bounced off well.


I am going with generous 2.5/5 for Ruchita Misra's '(In)Eligible Bachelors'. Read within realms of a chick-lit and you will not be disappointed with the book. It is a witty, fast pace read which is good time pass read for a lazy Sunday afternoon.


November 14, 2012

Book Review - 99 : A Mysterious Death at Sainik Farms





Author : Rukmani Anandani
Publisher : Rupa & Co

Ugrasen is murdered at Sainik Farms residence, the case is brought to the notice of detective Ganapati Iyer by the deceased's niece Anjali, who suspects some sort of foul play. Ganapati accompanied by his friend and flat mate Vinayak reaches the crime scene to find a bunch family members who may be privy to lot more information than what they are letting on. Here on, its a cat and mouse game to find the killer and solve the mystery shrouding the death of Ugrasen.

Ugrasen is a successful man and demands that his children meet his ideals of success. He is also domineering and rather stubborn, believing that he knows what is best for his adult children and is constantly pressuring them to do as he demands. This sets up the mystery rather nicely since he has ruffled quite a few feathers and caused his family to be frustrated with his high-handedness.

Unlike most Indian mystery novels, this one relies more on observations rather than interrogations and hence, make the material less verbose.The writing at times appears contrived (She' from the Lucknow branch of my mother's family). The mystery, however is not tight and it is quite likely that you will be able to guess the killer much before the climax. The number of characters pile up and almost all of them come under scanner for being accused of murder. The relationship specially that of Ugrasen and his wife borders on soap-opera melodrama and his relationship with a nubile assistant is stretched beyond means.

There are interesting portions which keeps you glued though the journey does get bumpy. The detailing of the house and their personal lives is done at length and takes you to the center of action. The fact that murder investigation is triggered  by an adolescent girl is cute in itself though lends less credence.

I am going with generous 3/5 for Rukmani Anandani's 'A Mysterious death at Sainik Farms'. It is not the best murder mystery you will read this year, but it keeps you just that bit interested. With more interesting central protagonist detective, this book could have been a more rewarding read. In its present form, its a one time read.

November 5, 2012

Book Review - 98 : The Bankster





Author : Ravi Subramanium
Publisher : Rupa Publications

My feedback for Ravi Subramanium fiction work has always been mixed, but this is no hidden fact that he knows his audience well enough and does not shy away from the fact that there are enough stories to be told within the banking sector, enough plot lines to be explored within the banking realms and yet not feel literally claustrophobic about the next piece of writing you are presenting to your readers.

The Bankster, Ravi's latest offering takes you through continents and runs into a multiple narrative structure. The scene of the story varies from Mumbai to the peaceful Cochin to the beautiful Vienna and the dusty Angola. From high corporate parties to large scale village protests, the author manages to capture all the flavors of Indian brains.

Bankers build their careers on trust, or so everyone thinks, till a series of murders threaten to destroy the reputation that the Greater Boston Global Bank (GB2) has built over the years. Who is behind these killings, and what is their motive?

When Karan Panjabi, press reporter and ex-banker, digs deeper, he realizes that he has stumbled upon a global conspiracy with far reaching ramifications a secret that could not only destroy the bank but also cast a shadow on the entire nation. With only thirty-six hours at his disposal, he must fight the clock and trust no one if he is to stay alive and uncover the truth.

There is the usual workplace politics at play where salaries are increased at the click of the mouse to accommodate inflated egos and unconcealed greed and performance targets are achieved at the cost of betraying trust. Pacing has never been the problem with Ravi's books and even in this one, splattered with banking jargon and few grammatical errors, things moves at a frenetic pace. Karan's superhuman effort to solve the mystery on the basis of the clues takes a bit of improbable route but it neatly ties all the clues in the end. The portions of ipad and sync with other apple products requires some immediate editing in the next version, cutting down the material by good 20 odd pages. The ACP becoming DGP at around 150 page are just some of the editorial glitches and nitpicking i can think off.


I am going with 3/5 for Ravi Subramanium's latest offering, 'The Bankster'. If, like me, you have read most of the author's books, you will wonder where the graph of his writing is going. There may be enough stories to tell in the banking sector but shouldn't the legacy of the writer be to create different worlds? For the fans of Mr. Subramanium, they will not be a tad disappointed. It offers another competently written, racy mystery thriller waiting to be explored.

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