Friday, July 31, 2015

Short Notes: The Killings at Badger's Drift by Caroline Graham




Retried school teacher Emily Simpson and her friend Lucy Bellinger, both denizens of a village called Badger's Drift, have an unspoken competition going on between them as to who would first spot a rare variety of orchid. While walking through the woods one day, Emily spots the orchids and is most ecstatic. However, she also stumbles upon a couple making love out in the open. Desperate to get away, she looses her footing and thus reveals her presence to them.

The next day, she is found dead. Nobody has any suspicions but her friend Lucy Bellinger insists that her friend was murdered. Her insistence brings Chief Inspector Thomas Barnaby and Sergeant Gavin Troy to the scene. More killings follow. Slowly, the facts emerge and the killer is revealed.



Sex lies like a miasma over the entire village and novel. Every one, it seems, has only one thing in mind. No relationship is sacred. Trust and loyalty are things of the past. What then is the appeal of the book? To me, it was the strained relationship between the two policemen. While Barnaby is a (thankfully) non-demon-ridden policeman, it is his Sergeant's thoughts on the privileged class, and homosexuals that I found humorous, especially as they revealed so much about him. Till the time when Troy remarked (regarding a gay character) that such people ought to be castrated. And then it wasn't funny anymore as it brought to my mind the tragic story of the cryptographer Alan Turing.

*

First Line: She had been walking in the woods  just before teatime when she saw them.

Series: Inspector Barnaby #1
Publishing Details: NY: Avon. 1989
First Published: 1987
Pages: 260
Source: Open Library
Trivia: The book has been made into a TV drama.

Other books read of the same author: None

*

Submitted for the Crimes of the century meme @ Past Offences. July's year was 1987.

Short Notes: The Lessons by Naomi Alderman

One reviewer describes Naomi Alderman's campus novel The Lessons to Donna Tartt's The Secret History. I agree. Both books promise much but deliver little.





She would have just been shattered, the parts of herself which fitted together so neatly now suddenly painful, never again as comfortable as they had been.

Set in Oxford, the novel is about James Stieff, a young man from a not-very-privileged background, who lonely and desolate in his first year, is co-opted in a group centred around the wealthy, charismatic, self-destructive Mark Winters. What follows is the usual vicious cycle of drugs, sex, and booze. While the events in Oxford are still entertaining, the novel loses much of its steam as the group moves apart and the final section between Mark and James is a big let-down.

There was just one point in the novel that intrigued me.


SPOILER AHEAD:


Why does James leave that note for Mark to call up Franny for news of Nicola? Doesn't he know that Mark would harm himself when he learns about Nicola's marriage? And now with nobody to save him, Mark would die. I think, he does know and this is the only way he visualises a freedom for both Mark and himself. Mark would be dead and then finally, he, James, would be free of him. What do you think?

I am a coward, I thought, but at least I am free.





*

First Line: When I returned from San Ceterino late in the afternoon, I found that Mark and his friends had thrown half the food in our kitchen into the swimming pool.

Publishing Details: London: Viking, 2010
First Published: 2010
Pages: 279
Source: CL [823 A27L]
Other books read of the same author: None

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Short Notes: Deshdrohi by Yashpal




 Bhagwandas Khanna, a doctor in the British Indian Army, is abducted by the Waziris, a Frontier tribe, near the fluid North-Western border of British India. That is the beginning of an adventure that sees him being converted into a Muslim; being sold-off in Ghazini; slipping in Soviet Russia and experiencing first-hand the great Socialist experiment; becoming a staunch communist; and eventually being smuggled back into British India in order to propagate the communist ideology even as the second world war rages on...

Meanwhile, Raj, his wife, tries to commit suicide on hearing of his (alleged) death and when saved from doing so, joins the Congress in order to fight for the freedom of her country.

Will their paths ever cross again? And if so, in what circumstances?

Uneven - some parts are interesting, some most boring- the novel is good enough for a one-time read.

*

First Line: Ajaani andheri raah par use ghasite liye ja rahe they.

Publishing Details: Lucknow: Viplav Karalaya, 1958
First Published: 1943
Pages: 298
Source: OTS since 2004
Other books read of the same author: Dada Kamrade


Thursday, July 16, 2015

Popular Post

One of the things about blogging that I enjoy is the popular post feature. It is fun to see which of your posts has had the maximum number of views. For months now, a post on Agatha Christie's Twelve best books that I did way back in 2012 occupied the number 1 position. So much so that I had even stopped thinking that it'd ever change. But recently there has been a pleasant change. A review of E.P. Oppenheim's The Strange Boarders of Palace Crescent has pushed the Christie post to the second spot. This gladdens my heart tremendously since I not only relished the book but also enjoyed writing a post on it.




So thanks to all those who read it and double thanks to those who made the effort  to leave a comment. You know when you enjoy a book, you want others to respond to that enthusiasm. So thanks a lot Freda, Margot, Prashant, Tracy, and Ann.