Thursday, December 28, 2017

How to Pray to the Deities - A Book on Malaysian Chinese Rituals

Though we can now access a lot of things from and about different countries, in every land, there is that which people from elsewhere might overlook for one reason or another. Primarily, we are all designed to enjoy according to how we’ve been programed early on. Secondarily, we seek, like the famous Mulla Nasrudin story, only within the limited areas of our existing knowledge. 

This habit of ours is most evident in our reading tastes: most of us continue to read “favourite” authors throughout our lifetimes, ignoring vast realms of genres and writings from other continents. At some point in my life I realised that if I went on re-reading Tolkien and Rex Stout and other old favourites, I’d lose out on knowledge about so much else. Perhaps it was easier for me as, from a very early age, I began to select books out of the blue from the libraries to which I had access. It was thus that I drifted through Salinger and Hesse and it was this trait which re-surfaced, later in life, allowing me to transition from fiction to other writings, quite painlessly.

Although at first, in our years in Malaysia, I was hard put to find access to books (India spoils one that way, given our plethora of secondhand booksellers - still true, hopefully), later I found at least one second hand book shop and other ways to get at reading material.

I cannot honestly recall where I bought a book called “How to Pray to the Deities, a compilation of Deities, Myths and Chinese Traditions and Customs”. The book says that I cannot reprint or reproduce any part of the book and I am thus denied sharing the joy of the illustrations with you.

I was often charmed, when observing my Malaysian Chinese neighbours, at how similar their rituals were to our “Hindu” ones in India. Lighting incense, shrines at home and by the roadside, temples and gods/goddesses. 

You can see the red shrines in the houses, one to the left of the white car parked inside the house to the left and the other to the extreme right. 

So, let’s peep into this book through my eyes! Fortunately, I got quite a bit of the book online from a forum:

Monday, December 11, 2017

Science in Literature - Fiction, Verse and Prose

It’s not an easy interface, some would say. Yet, on the one hand, science is a set of methods which can be used to examine everything. And, in fact, on so many levels, science has sought to unravel the workings of all aesthetics, including literature.
But that’s not all. It is rare to find a real scientist who has no love for reading. Not just the reading of scientific literature - a class of writings seemingly far removed from the core purpose of literature and that is poetry, and prose of a pleasurable kind. All excellence, at the end of the day, is infused with multiple excellences. And good science writing reads as good as any best selling piece of literature.

All people of quality in any walk of life are usually those who have quantitatively and qualitatively gulped down the best of human endeavours. And that is how excellence in output very naturally evolves.

I’m, at present, working with Madhu to train Indian scientists to write science in a way that is transparent and easy to read for, at least, academics or scientists in other fields. While I’ve no head for science, I find it pretty cool in its rigour and other pursuits. But I basically delight in fiction and verse. A world many would deem irreconcilably divorced from the realm of scientific endeavour.

And, yet, even fiction and verse have a method to their seeming madness and not a day goes by that a scientist somewhere is busy untangling that which constitutes good writing. Madhu uses his workshops to explore the art and science of writing and their role in constructing science writing.

Some years back I had started a Facebook Page - Writer Rites - to bring good literature to people. Using a Ray Bradbury ‘challenge’, I devoted myself to posting, every day, one short story, one poem and one bookish article. Usually, based around a theme.

Increasingly, at least once a week, I’m seeking to bring science as a theme.

There is a challenge I face, though. And it’s not only the imagined divide between literature and science. There is, also, the issue that science, in the attempts at ‘science popularisation’, among other things, has come to symbolise, for the layperson, various peculiar things - doomsday science fiction,

peculiar animal behaviour from cute to grotesque and a disturbing role of doling out dos and don’ts that borders on exactly what religions do.

And, thus, I undertake to unearth fiction/poetry by scientists or fiction or poems that showcase the joys of scientific endeavour.

Here's a sample from November:

The Solitude of Prime Numbers, By Paulo Giordano

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

R K Mohapatra's Handy Guide to Investment - a Value-Added Volume

A book for these times. The world has been reeling from an economic downturn for some time now. Perhaps India has been somewhat sheltered from this slump. For one thing, not many Indians have, in any case, access to our Government’s schemes for its citizen. Illiteracy, for one thing and corruption, for another, have kept us working hard, with low or no expectations for relief. However, we’ve now in power forces that seem bent on creating waves. Demonetization apart, we’re being bombarded by various financial experiments and it is natural for some of us to wonder what will happen and how we will be affected.

Thus, while this book might be a solid guide for financial planning, one wonders how its advice will work in the new contexts - today’s news says our FDs may be in danger.

However, Mohapatra’s book contains principles which are the backbone of good financial planning and will be a boon to all Indians, and, I daresay, to a great many elsewhere too.

Investment - Risk and Growth is a 136 page book, with 7 chapters, 3 annexures and an appendix. The 10 page introduction is rich, in itself,  with sane and sensible advice and cautions. The print and font and quality of the paper are honest and lend to ease of reading. Using tables and infographics, the author leads the reader through the essentials of financial planning before launching into more details in the chapters that follow.

The chapters cover the various investment options and instruments along with the risks and benefits of each. The annexures provide handy tables for those who plan to take serious steps to empower themselves financially. And the appendix provides a cost inflation index which is as recent as was possible for the author.

Priced at 200 Rs., this book would make a fine and worthwhile gift to any young person but also a nice one for older people as well as those who have retired. For anyone who reads this valuable resource can then be an asset to any who turn to them for advice. I would go so far as to say that it should be available to undergraduates too. After all, in our times, it is better to be well prepared well in advance.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Swinging through a bundalo of Tarzan Memorabilia - Kreegah!

Tarzan swung into my life, somewhere in the 70s, via comics.
From Jim, the Photographer,
Though these gave me some inkling of the highlights of the apeman’s life, it was only when I introduced my son to Edgar rice Burroughs that I, perhaps, gained more information. It was also in the days when my son was a little boy that I saw my first Tarzan film.

My main takeaway from the Tarzan stories, though, remains how Tarzan learns to read. This fact of the legend is, in fact, the theme/title and more of many erudite papers!

Here is a little boy, alone in the wilderness, surrounded by all that remains of his parent’s belongings. This ‘Mowgli’ proceeds to teach himself to read. And, later, to write! Anyway, read it for yourself in Tarzan of the Apes.

Food nourishes the body. Books feed the mind. With this in mind, I often look back at books I have read when young and what they fed in me. Books shape the outlook and, to a certain extent, I ought to admit that the Mowgli/Tarzan/Phantom tropes worked/work to form my reactions to the world. I refuse to say further because, though books might be construed as endorsing this or that, it is the worse crime to condemn books on the basis of such and such bias in the author.

Just as books take us into diverse times/spaces, ‘real’ or fantasy, in the course of a reading we also cruise through inner worlds. And this space is necessarily organic, biological, hormonal and more that is, sometimes, not hygienic or palatable to all/some of us at various points in time. It is a complex relationship and the more profitable move would be to let books be. They are like travelogues and will give us all a diversity of perspectives. Such diversity is good for survival.
That said, I endorse Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan, along with his other fantasy works,  as worthy of being read.

My latest encounter remains the latest film.

But I look forwards to catching up on more Edgar Rice Burroughs creations, in the meantime.
This winter gift someone a great read

Friday, September 01, 2017



On the western highlands of Scotland, a springtime storm pummels the coast while Kristie's brother is out fishing. When he fails to return home, Kristie turns away from her list of chores to search the loch in an effort to ease her pregnant sister-in-law's fears. Instead of finding Domnall, she discovers a naked and battered man washed up on shore and worries he could be a thieving reiver or worse--an Englishman.

When the handsome outsider wakes, he is unable to remember who he is or how he came to be there. Although the feisty and melancholy Kristie isn't keen on him remaining, her young neighbor, Jock, takes to the playful stranger and names Creag after the rocky crags where the loch meets the sea. Not long after the lad speaks of selkies, magical seals who shed their skins to live as humans, Creag dreams he is swimming deep beneath the waves.

Kristie is desperate to keep the farm running for her missing brother while Creag's sleep is filled with strange visions--glimpses that may reveal secrets to his past, but he may soon wish they were only a dream.

**CONTENT WARNING: Due to mature content, recommended for readers aged 18+**

Shapeshifter Sagas {Western European Myths from the Middle Ages}

Widow {13thc. | Black Shuck | England}
Scars {10thc. | Fenrir | Iceland}
Tides {10thc. | Kraken | Great Britain/Ireland}
Outsider {14thc. | Selkie | Scotland}

Available to buy from....   Paperback

Also Available
Widow (Time of Myths: Shapeshifter Sagas Book 1)
Lady Rayne has few options as a young widow. Either her father will marry her off to a wealthy nobleman--no matter how old and disagreeable he may be, or she will become a nun like her aunt at Grimsford Abbey. The choice is easy: her interest in writing is not supported in the dark halls of her father's home. Rayne eagerly anticipates becoming a scribe and learning the art of illumination and book making. But first she must travel along the treacherous roads of East Anglia.

Far from the confines of Norwich, Rayne hears fables of an enormous ghostly hound called the Black Shuck. She tries to ignore them until she finds herself staring into its expressive brown eyes. With every heartbeat, her chances of reaching Grimsford Abbey disappear. If only she could live to tell the tale.

**CONTENT WARNING: Due to mature content, recommended for readers aged 18+**

Scars (Time of Myths: Shapeshifter Sagas Book 2)
Along the breathtaking and unforgiving coast of Snæland, Ásta’s ancestral farm is plagued with bad luck. The kinless maiden’s turf walls continue to be found damaged, and there aren’t enough farmhands to maintain the property. Claw marks in the dirt revive old memories of the wolf attack that left her scarred, and she begins to fear the whispers are true—that Fenrir, son of Loki and king of the wolves, has come to claim her and her land.

Torin often leaves his uncle’s farm in the southern hills to track and ensnare valuable gyrfalcons. His secret ability to turn into the birds he trains means his falconry skills are unparalleled, earning him precious silver and gold. If the ghosts of his past didn’t haunt him daily, pushing him to numb his senses with drink, Torin might have married by now—as his uncle often reminds him. He knows the time has finally come to find a wife and settle down.

During the Althing, the gathering of the year, Ásta’s ability to maintain her property comes into question while Torin wonders if a woman in jeopardy of losing her farm is really worth the trouble.

**CONTENT WARNING: Due to mature content, recommended for readers aged 18+**

Available to buy from....   Paperback

Tides (Time of Myths: Shapeshifter Sagas Book 3)
It’s Leif’s eighth summer going viking with his father on their ship the Kraken—and he’s had enough. For as long as Leif can remember, his father has claimed to be a descendant of Ægir, god of the sea, and has exploited their shape changing ability—all this to amass enough gold to gain entrance into the ocean god’s halls. Leif hopes that time’s drawing near so he can free himself from Ragna’s domineering shadow.

On the green hills of Éire, Eilish is content learning traditional folk cures from her father until a Finn-Gall raid disturbs the peace. Desperate to protect Eilish from harm, her father cuts her hair and disguises her in his old clothing before she’s ripped from the only home she’s ever known. Sold as a thrall in Duiblinn, she must hide out as a young man on a ship full of barbarians.

Now Eilish, who fears she’ll become Ægir’s next sacrifice, and Leif, who isn’t prepared to stand up against his father’s powerful wrath, must face the tides of change—no matter how ominous they may seem.

**CONTENT WARNING: Due to mature content, recommended for readers aged 18+**

Available to buy from....    Paperback

About the author
Natasha was born in Nevada City, California. Being an only child, she resorted to using her imagination while exploring the forest surrounding her home (a nasty habit she hasn’t been able to break). Her natural interest in fantasy ignited when her parents read The Hobbit to her as a youth, and from then on anything seemed possible. Once awarded with a Hershey’s bar ‘the size of a Buick’ in her high school English class for creative writing, her passion and interest in literature has never dimmed.

She now lives in Littleton, Colorado, with her husband, two children, and two dogs.

Find the author on the following sites...

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Monday, August 28, 2017

Russian Fairy Tales - Good Reads at Any Age

When I was a little girl, Soviet books were freely available, cheap and very popular in India. I had some too but my favourite was Vasilisa The Beautiful: Russian Fairy Tales.

But this was not the book I had. Mine was this:

Vasilisa The Beautiful: Russian Fairy Tales

Now, in a great many of these fairy tales, the heroine, Vasilisa, in this case, is a stepdaughter and her stepmother and stepsisters ill treat her. In this particular story, they send her to get some tinder or some such thing as they've run out. She has to go ask some from Baba Yaga, the witch with the switch.

This is among the many tales that formed my own private set of values. On her way into the house of the witch, Vasilisa first meets resistance from the gate. She oils it. And then there is one thing after another and when she has to flee the witch all the things that she helped help her back. 

Emelya and the Pike was also my favourite. This was about a lazy boy who agrees to throw a pike back into the water. The grateful fish then grants him a boon. He can summon its magic power at any time, saying: 
  By the Will of the Pike, Do as I like!
I also like The Silver Saucer and the Rosy-Cheeked Apple for the girl in this story gets these things from her father and has a whale of a time with them. Obviously, that then draws the jealousy of her sisters upon her and things transpire. Of course, things work out in the end as it's a fairy tale!

Sister Alyonushka and Brother Ivanushka has, again, a wicked stepmother! I think that, had these tellers of tall fairy tales been alive today, they'd have had a great many slander lawsuits flung at them. 
By Matorin Nikolay Vasilyevich [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
The Frog Tsarevna, I now find, is actually Vasilisa the Beautiful - at least that's what I'm forced to believe given what the latter throws up there:

Wee Little Havroshechka was not among my well loved tales but quite a delicious one. 

 Marya Morevna the Lovely Tsarevna , I know I loved it but the story I've quite forgotten! Rereading it now, I find it absolutely spot on - dark and delicious with Koshchei the Deathless who's not quite as cool as Baba Yaga. But he's got my respect, nevertheless:

Ivan Bilibin [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Ivan - Young of Years, Old of Wisdom has always charmed me but, like Maria, he has not held sway over my memory. Here too it is the villain who's caught my fancy: Zmei Gorinich. And it has The Self-Playing Psaltery, the Dancing Goose and the Glee-Maker Cat. 

I would dearly love to reread them all down to the last one, The Seven Simeons - Seven Brave Workingmen.  

I hope I have stirred your appetite for these lovely stories. In parting, I leave you with "Twelve Months" which I read in another book.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

A Devilishly Good Read - Tess Gerritsen's The Mephisto Club

I’m toying with giving up my library membership as my eyesight finds it harder and harder to cope with ‘real’ books. Reading on an app is so much easier. And handier. The latest visit to my library was during a slightly stressful time. I, thus, happily grabbed the book suggested by the librarian. And that was a Tess Gerritsen.

“I write because I love to tell stories, and I can’t think of a more amazing job than to sit at my desk and listen to fictional characters having conversations,”

Now, I’ve never heard of her before. And, while I’m far from a reader of best sellers, I’m one of those who simply has to know the plot before I plunge in, be it a film or a novel.

But the author has this going for her, in my eyes, that she's a medical person and into anthropology. I’m a doctor’s daughter and medicine often involves detection and I'm a huge fan of medicine and detection. As for anthropology, that's also fascinating - a rather messy area but quite full of things that read as juicily as fiction, one has to admit.

And then I used to be a fan of the Bones series. Alas, I’ve only read the one Bones book by Kathy Reichs as my library has mostly her books for young adults.

I’d planned the book to keep me company while I was home alone for the week. As it transpired, I read it through one night. Of course, that’s mainly because I skip and read. To be fair, life is short and, to lovingly read line for line, it would require writing that really takes my breath away. Or a plot. I'm both hard and easy to please.

The story lived up to the blurb’s promise of blood and dismemberment in dollops and lusty globs. Speaking of which some intercourse is interspersed. Quite juicy what with a Church Father being one of the participants. There is an amusing piece which would give you a rough

The novel is devilishly engaging - the Devil figures all over the place. Obviously! Mephisto! For me, as a non-Christian residing in a country where the majority are Hindus, the book offered some trivia about the concepts of the Devil in ancient Christianity. In general, it is a fairly informative book.

The ambience is alright but somehow rang a bit Agatha Christie to me. Which is why it just might be a hit with the ladies. Not to mention the fact that the author is highly cited as feminist. Well, apparently, to look deeper into that I'd have to read another of her books.

There is a more overt feminist slant here than in earlier books. Both heroines are far more capable and resourceful than any of the venal, stupid or criminal males they encounter.

A bit of a Roman Holiday feel in some chapters - such passages in a book are often as good as a trip to the place.

I’d absolutely try more of her in the meantime - perhaps for a nice vacation read this winter. Reading has become an ill affordable pleasure in today’s fast paced world.

In the meantime, this is a book which would go down well with fans of crime fiction who like their corpses in a far from neat condition.

Also, it has a lot of cute family scenes and offers a good representation of women as professionals and men as caring family persons. We still do require enough of this in our diet to change things for the better.

Lastly, I do think I’ve watched a show or two based on her stories.

So do yourself a favour and buy this one now - it’s got goats, for one thing, and is quite evocative of some good old time evil!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Another Deliciously Dark Nesbo - The Snowman

Hot on the heels of Hole’s The Redeemer, I’m racing through another Jo Nesbo:
By now we know that Harry Hole struggles with an alcohol problem and we’ve seen his efforts to work out in a basement gym.

We are privy to the fact that he had and lost a once in a lifetime love: Rakel. And the Snowman rocks because we get more vicarious drool time via extended peeks at quality time between the two lovelorn love birds. Thrillers, when the author is male, often appear to be thinly cloaked excuses for a male romantic genre. In other words, here is where we women get to glimpse what might be romance from the male point of view.
In The Snowman, we might have a serial killer or such is what I gather and I’m past the page 100 mark. Now, it’s interesting that we seem to require exotic criminals - psychopaths and serial killers and all. Personally, I find the Higashino approach more satisfying - of finding the criminal or crime in the most ordinary, as a chance surrender to a dark instant.
As for other highlights of this very yummy read, we have, interspersed, snippets of what Indians call ‘gyan’ - info/trivia… So far we learned about the mating habits of some kind of seal and about an interesting veterinary procedure using a fascinating cutting and cauterising implement.
It’s so sad to find readers at a library endlessly borrowing an Alistair Maclean or Jack Higgins when Nordic Noir titles gleam outstandingly at hand!

So, if you are one such, loving the crime genre but stuck in a worn out groove, or if you know of anyone wallowing in such stagnation, do just buy The Snowman.

And what better time than with the film being released this year?


Wednesday, July 05, 2017

A Taylored Read - The Escape by C L Taylor

A most marvellous monsoon wedding anniversary in Goa was much boosted by some very entertaining reads. In fact, I was glad to find a goodly pile of novels and other books in the reception at the Lazy Frog, Carmona.

 All my choices were thrillers. And, besides The Redeemer and others, I had The Escape by C.L. Taylor.  

What impressed me about this novel, for one thing, are the strong friendships between women. Mother and daughter, friends and even strangers. I was almost envious!

Also, though this is not an outstanding book by most measures, the author has managed to offer the portrait of a certain type of man. Men are, by and large, very nice. However, it is possible to find some traits such as portrayed in this story in a scarily large section of the gender. I do hope that will not be taken as any sweeping indictment of the sex. It just happens that there still exists a tendency to not only downplay but, worse, take advantage of certain anxieties a women might have or express. Some 'feminine' moods or mindsets, a section of society might, sadly, readily agree upon as typical. And, alas, there are men who do not seem to be able to restrain themselves from using these manifestations in a woman to help label her unsteady or even unreliable. I realise that this is a most messy paragraph! Basically, it's all too easy to allege that a woman is being governed by her own 'unnatural' urges. The contradiction is that these are considered natural in a woman as opposed to some supposedly calm and rational behaviour in men.

Jo Blackmore becomes a typical case of how terrible it can be when such a thing happens. Now, who's going to believe a thing she says? And, more importantly, who's going to believe her innocence?

There’s the tension of being on the run with a little one in tow but Taylor’s focus and forte relinquish this line and opt instead for some amazingly magical scenes like the one where Jo has just entered the quaint hotel in Ireland and something happens. There is an almost glow to that scene or maybe the Feni at the Seaman’s Nest on the riverside just kicked in.
I sort of had the same experience - the use of the present tense was a bit distressing, if I remember right. But, like that person’s friend, I soon couldn’t put it down.

I’m not sure if I’d deliberately look out for more by C. L. Taylor but it was just right for a rainy holiday read and I see that she hits the right note with many female readers on Goodreads and elsewhere.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Redeemer - A Redeeming Read by Jo Nesbø

I will never feel happy confronting my vacuum cleaner now that Jo Nesbo has revealed its sinister possibilities
Indeed. And that is a powerful reason for lovers of the genre to read the redeemer. What more can we ask for than a nice gruesome scene or two cozily ensconced in the cold hard body of a narrative?

The story opens with some boy-girl stuff. Youth camp. For me it brings back memories of a Soviet novel for young adults. Fancy that! Ages ago, in the early seventies, there existed young adult fiction. In a commie country! Somehow we are constantly made to feel that repressive regimes spell the death of good literature or art. Yet time and again this stifling of creativity spawns a significant and commanding outflow. A vanguard. Avant garde...  To return to the book in hand, the Nordic countries all share somewhat of the same pool of archetypes as the ex-Red countries. This factor might be what makes for the popularity of the Nordic Noir genre.

The camp is part of the Norwegian Salvation Army’s setup. 

I knew precious little about the Salvation Army save through mentions en famille. My folks had been in the UK before I was born. But all I was privy to was a sense of contempt and grudging admiration. I can’t really tell you if this attitude was on par with their outlook on people from the Hare Krishna foundation or the Jehovah's witnesses. My only takeaway is how the author has brought in a well known entity without introducing flavours of approval/disapproval or any such thing. Yet it makes for authenticity and atmosphere. And fits well with the broader theme of the region’s struggle with drugs. A thread that runs through the works of Mankell and others from the area. Also, besides the world of the addict, we are exposed to the measures set in place by nations in that part of the globe - drugs distributed to addicts via a governmental initiative. While I cannot say for sure that this novel applauds or denigrates such policies, it is, undoubtedly, a healthy piece of information for readers in other parts of the world which trudge through issues across the inhospitable terrain of colonial hand me downs. The pleasure and value of books is that they divinely allow us into the many worlds of others, other regions and other practices, thus enriching and empowering us. 

The setting set, the novel rapidly plunges the reader into the scene of what is surely a rape. The rapist’s face is not seen but surely we know who he is. Flashes of a disturbed personality emerge early. As if this were not enough to get the adrenalin flowing, we are presented the hero, Harry Hole, and there is a ferocious dog attacking him. For me, this dog remains a major highlight of the story. Because, as it so happened, we were chased by a very angry dog around the time I’d read that chapter. The universe’s way of making a book more exciting? More pertinently, my dirty habit of skipping pages and reading a book every which way has left me in the dark about the abovementioned canine. And so I am tortured by the following questions:
Who killed the dog?
Who ate it?

And this brings us to the genre of the serial detective. This protagonist remains one and the same across a series of novels. Disconcerting if badly handled as the reader has to be privy to things that have happened to the protagonist earlier than the now of the novel. I would say that the author has done a good job of it. We painlessly get to know that Hole drinks way too much. That he had a love interest. That things have soured between them. That this is because of the compounding of Harry’s determined pursuit of a high ranking wrongdoer in the police ranks to his habit of consuming massive amounts of alcohol. 

Crime and punishment on many levels, then, is also a charm of the book. Sooner than you can say genocide you’re transported to the Serbia-Croatia conflict. Time past and time present fuse explosively to bring some answers and more questions in an entertaining roller coaster ride that has you hurtling through romance, horror, geographies and urban landscapes such as shipping containers. 

Ladies and gentlemen, we now have an assassin. A hitman in Hole country. He doesn’t speak a word of the local language. A challenge in itself. But who is he after and who has he shot? And why? Who hired him? There are challenges for the detectives as well - here’s a man with a face that can’t easily be recognised. A good ploy in a detective novel: you’re given almost everything on a plate and yet none of those clues work. Only Harry Hole knows the whole story! 

There are enough spoilers online to help you make up your mind about reading this book or not and so I’m done so far as that goes. Were I to know a book had all or some of the above ingredients I’d buy it in a flash.

Having read it on a monsoon vacation in Goa, I’d fulsomely recommend it to anyone who loves a good crime read. Best read when it’s raining outside. Ideally served with cold meats or anything that works all the better to get you into the Nordic Noir mood.

2017 promises at least one Harry Hole film. I do hope I get to see it.

Friday, May 05, 2017

My Degree of Obsession with Patterson's Degree of Guilt

Somehow, this was a rather satisfying courtroom drama read after ages. I have no idea why but I feel it can be remade as a very nice Japanese dorama.

I’ve cut my teeth on Perry Mason - our family had loads of those. And libraries all around had all we didn’t. But I doubt anyone can have read all of them these days let alone all Erle Stanley Gardner's output.

And, of course, years later, John Grisham took over that spot on the bookshelf.

After that the genre did not throw itself my way until I found Degree of Guilt by Richard North Patterson in a relative’s house. I needed something to read and I read it.

It was just one of those books I couldn’t really put down and was very handy as it came at a time when I was home alone and I don’t sleep well at all at such times, especially on a hot summer's night. So bad reading light and all, I sped through the book in a couple of days and nights.

I liked it from a couple of points of view, and one of those is the whodunnit part. Perhaps it’s because at two points I guessed the ‘who’. Not that it was easy but I liked the way it was crafted.

It’s fairly pacy, racy in a minor way and has all the huge drama of a TV Nordic Noir drama.

Apparently there’s a TV movie of this book too! I’d want to watch that. Though someone says it’s a mashup of two of his books.

Basically, the protagonist is a male lawyer. He has a son. The mother of the boy is a major mystery figure. She has a nice figure too, one figures out from Page One on.

The lawyer has a sidekick - a she. She’s smart. And go figure! Maybe not hour glass but good enough to warrant a scene where the abovementioned two ladies subliminally sniff each other out warily and with veiled hostility.

The book opens with a corpse. A dead man with his pants around his ankles.

The man is a writer. With a mother complex. And a perverted degree of fandom for a certain actress.

The actress had committed suicide sometime before the book begins.

And then there’s a psychiatrist, also dead a priori.

And he has a daughter and he left tapes of his sessions with clients.

Go figure! And a lady judge.

Yes. All that makes for a good slavering read! Don’t save it for a rainy day - this summer read: