Friday, March 16, 2018

When today meets tomorrow

“You are close to hitting the half way mark. People like us should already have our own legacy by this time and yet here we are, chatting and cribbing over typical middle class worries”
We met after a really long time and were chatting about our college mates. When the last memory you have of someone is over 20 years ago, it’s hard to imagine their present day situations. Seems some of our friends had divorced and remarried. While some were undergoing treatment for depression. There were some really astounding success stories and many had bitter experiences in their personal life. I was basically lost after the “half way mark” comment by my friend. Suddenly the difference between being old and feeling old struck hard and it really hit its mark. All of a sudden there was a nervous rush of all those things that I wanted to do and still haven’t even started. The moment you realize how little time you have left, every second seems to rush by even faster. Was feeling giddy for a while with so many thoughts that everything became a blur.

It’s not an earth shattering revelation or a profound thought, but it set a lot of things in perspective. The first thing that struck me was, how I want to be remembered. To be honest, I am that kind of person who is more comfortable, being hidden in plain sight. Yet another face in the crowd. Like, E pluribus Unum, out of many – one. Hadn’t really thought on creating legacy, leave alone a will!!! I always went with the tide and never felt any particular delight in fighting against it, choosing the easier of the options. It took a really long walk back home to clear my mind. Incidentally, the cab ride that I had taken, dropped me on a different route back home and it went through those streets where I had grown up as kid. Even though I have been living across four streets in past 3 decades, very rarely I take that route or visit those streets. Not a single house was how it was back then and every one of them had undergone renovation or been rebuilt. The narrow lane house where I was in my kindergarten, had another row house bang opposite to it, where some of my primary school mates were living. The entire setup had now become a whole apartment complex. The LIC agent who used to pester everyone for policy had a green colored house that was no longer green and was more of grey. Probably the house ran out of insurance or he ran out of the house. Either way, looked like it was up next for demolition and might soon be seen as a Sale ad in local paper.

The Naadaar kadai, provision store, had become a departmental store. My dad used to carry me to that shop as kid and he would be giving me packets of dry fruits to eat whenever I visited. The adjacent clinic, belonging to our family physician, remained the same with a new color coating and a compounder. Bang opposite to the clinic used to be a flour mill belonging to my school mate, who died in a bike accident even before he could finish graduation. The 5X5 petty shop had given way for a spacious stationery shop. Once, while coming back from tuition, I found a bundle of currency notes lying on the road and I had put the entire note on a nearby temple hundi. Though my mom scolded me for even touching something lying on the road, that didn’t belong to me, and was worried that someone might come and claim it from us, she was secretly proud that I didn’t take the money. Even that temple was undergoing rampant renovation. All of a sudden, it seemed everything had changed around me and all those changes happening right in front of me, without even me realizing. When I reached home, after quite a nostalgic walk, the moment my kid saw me, he shouted “appa” and came running. I never realized when I got used to being addressed as “appa”. Not sure about other “first time dad”s, but for long I never quite got accustomed to being called like that, for the word always meant my dad to me. With him not around, it still meant him. And being addressed by the same “role” as him, was scary to be honest for the responsibilities it carried along with it.

But it’s not scary anymore and I’ve gone to relish being called like that. In fact, at times I long for it, when he continues chant for his mom to attend his beck and call. Slowly the changes that I saw seemed to merge into a known pattern of what was happening inside my house, my own life and the fear slowly faded away. That familiar sense of rocking tide of time, that sways me often, yet carry me on its journey came crawling back and filled the void of nothingness with a small thing called hope. The clock might always be ticking but rather than watching it tick to oblivion, there are better sights still available and when they take such cute shapes, doting on you to play with them and make them laugh and quote a movie dialogue, not sure if courage came in but fear did move out.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Redbreast by Jo Nesbo - book review

Finally I managed to finish reading the book after almost a month since I started. Was never a big fan of Nesbo, with his novels lying unread for past 4 years. I found them to be way too slow and the characters way too complex for me to understand and follow. But after Devil’s star, wanted to give the series a try and started with “Red breast”. To describe the novel, one can reference the Ford escort car used by Harry Hole, the hero, in the novel. It’s made to sound like a scrap-on-wheels which has to be pushed really hard before it starts to run. The first half of the book, especially those detailing the war zone, were like pushing that car, uphill, with a safety pin. I almost gave up and started googling to figure out the end. To my surprise, apparently, this book had won several prestigious awards and was supposed to be one of the author’s best efforts!! I decided to plough through a little bit more to see where it leads and to quote the car example again, whether its scrap or not, once you cross the halfway mark and from the time the story starts to revolve only in the present, it’s as if the car goes on a free fall with no brake to stop!!!

The story has everything. Love, revenge, multiple personality disorder, serial killing, War, very interesting history of Norway’s role on WWII, twist after twist that gets carry forwarded into subsequent storylines in the series, highly and extremely complex characterization and some neat lift and shift from “Day of the jackal” towards the end. The detailing is what was killing on the previous book by Nesbo and he goes overboard again. There is a scene where Harry calls another person from his room after reaching his house. It takes three full pages for Harry to get into his house, have a look at his room, description of things that lay there and by the time he picks the phone, if you are still awake, you would feel drowsy to say the least. It was storyboarding on words for every single situation, location and even for characters that makes it an overkill. Especially the war portions that were supposed to set the tone for the second part, could’ve been edited mercilessly. Till almost 50% into the book, you’ve no clue where the story is heading. It starts off with a bang though, literally. There is an misunderstanding by Harry, leading him to kill a secret service agent, mistaking him for an assassin after the US president life. And interestingly he gets promoted for this deed rather than censure. There is a painstakingly detailed reason for this promotion that has been forcedly introduced to link a love angle way down the line. Certain sections felt, they were added as an afterthought, once the first draft was readied.

Gils verdict – For those who are planning to read the Harry hole series, better check the order in which the series has been written, for there are quite some spoilers, if you happen to read in the random order that I tried. Since I started reading the series in haphazard manner, I already knew of a spoiler. Guess, the Harry hole series have two storylines – one involving the past of Harry and his idiosyncrasies and the second specific to the novel’s reason which could be about some serial killer or assassin who are either killed or caught by Harry. So no wonder the novel is tedious as both the sections are given equal weightage. When I was reading Devil’s star, it felt very much a part of a long running series, with Nesbo, assuming the readers to be familiar with Harry and other characters in his life, doesn’t do much of introduction. It gives a sense of thrill as well, to read a random book in a series and trying to match the cause with effect. Redbreast refers to the small bird otherwise known as Robin. By the time you finish the book, it might have laid few eggs and the next generation of Robins would’ve been up in the sky!! Overall, if you survive the detailing onslaught and the dragging war sections, the second half of the book make a quick read and for history enthusiasts, it throws a whole new light on Norway’s role in WWII.

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Interview with Bragz

For long I have wanted to conduct an interview of a famous personality. I always love to ask questions than answer and reading the interviews on the dallies and weeklies, always used to wonder how the preparations would be. When I finally managed to coax one, I was at a loss as to what should i ask. For those who are regulars in this blog space, Brags is not just my source for novels that I get to read and enjoy, he is also an established author by himself. A true svaymbu if at all anything, he sculpted himself into what he is now and has already published 3 books with lots of short stories series in the offing. A versatile person, who dabbles into lot many things, be it online marketing, content creation, a master on trendy apps, event management and a well-known blogger he was kind enough to share his experiences and thoughts for some of the most trivial questions he would’ve ever been questioned across all the interviews he had ever faced.

Brags- siru kurippu varaiga

Siru kurippu ellam kashtam. I was born and brought up in Tirunelveli. Had a good schooling and great experiences there. When I finished college, I had no clue about what to do and I joined a data entry company. Things were going good until my mother sought transfer to Chennai where my brother was working. So we had to move as a family. That is how I was uprooted. It took one year to get a job and I stayed in that job for four years. And the rest of the jumps happened so quick for me and I donned a variety of roles in the next six years. Like any good parents, my parents want me to settle down. When marriage alliances didn’t work out, they tied me down to a house loan EMI. That is how I settled down in Avadi.

How important was the decision to move to Chennai from native a factor in deciding who/what you are now? Was it a good or bad choice?

I guess it turned out pretty well in the end. I can’t imagine what I would be doing if I was still in Tirunelveli. It is a great place, there is no doubt about it. But Chennai shaped me and it taught me what I really wanted to do and introduced me to some great human beings. These guys were so selfless and took time to teach me stuff and were happy to see me succeed. It was definitely a good choice which I didn’t make. But I made the best out of it. For first three years in Chennai, I didn’t like one day in this place. I always wanted to go back. But then the city grew on me.

This multi-hatter personality as author, writer, online apps enthusiast, networking, sales, movie enthusiast - was this planned? How it happened?

None of it was planned. . In fact almost all of it happened accidentally. The biggest plan I do is to plan my next meal. I don’t look beyond that. So when I came to Chennai and couldn’t find a job, I spent the whole time in Connemara Library. That is how I improved my English. And to have it in practice I kept writing my thoughts down, first in a diary and then in blogs. And slowly I had some traffic generated for blogs. I was good with fiction than non-fiction because my imagination was colorful rather than my mundane life. While I was at it, I got a promotion in work to marketing department. FB had just rolled out the business profile and stuff at that point of time so I was trained, given workshops regarding the future of it. So that is how I moved into Social Media marketing. Before Social media happened, we had to hard sell everything. The thing about bringing new leads organically and nurturing them and making the masses who had no idea about services to be ready for us, was interesting and I grasped the basics in a very short time.
While these things were happening in the professional front, I became a member of Indiblogger and eventually I was introduced to Chennai Bloggers Club. The things I read in the library days came in handy and in fact I found a lot of people who were experts in their respective field elaborate what they were working on. When I moved to night shifts, I had to travel three hours one way in cab to office. So I always had movies in my phone to kill time. Slowly I moved beyond Tamil, Telugu, English movies and started exploring new movies. I always had a thing for stories. It can be from movies, books, series or people. I take a keen interest on that. And that is how all these things happened. I was just seeking and genuinely interested in their stories.

Why writing?

Why not writing? Basically I like to be left alone and at the same time I long for company. When I go out with people it is very easy to put me off and for me to get bored. Writing came to rescue. And I was amazed by the connect it gives with other people. Writing is only next to music in that aspect and I can never be good at music. So I took the next big thing. Also, I stammered a little bit when I was a kid. The urge to tell all I want without stammering and also without interruption is a deep buried need of mine. Writing fulfils it.

What does security means for you - financially, personally, professionally

I wonder whether this is a trick question. Because I for one will never know what security will mean. Financially, Personally and Professionally. But I know this, if I am getting enough dosage without any problem for a period of time, I grow uncomfortable. I feel like I am worthless even if I had people around me, earning well or a good job. I like challenges. So security means, alarm clock to wake up and run.

Would you say writing for you or anyone who aspires,  can become a career at any point of time? do you think our country has mature space for budding writers to choose it as a career which pays their bills?

Not only writing, but people practicing any art forms have tough time. Unless we put our mind and soul to the art and gain fellowship it won’t pay the bills. As a matter of fact, people have started consuming art for free. We don’t buy music anymore. We just stream. We don’t go to art shows. We google. We are heading towards the world of atlas shrugged and I don’t see a light at the end of tunnel.

What motivates you to do whatever things you do?

To the things we love doing, I guess there is no need of motivation. If I had to push myself to do something I don’t do it. It is as simple as that. I really do not have any motivation other than being happy while doing things.

Interesting. How do you know the things you love? for people who work for payslips on 1 st day of the month, work is not a motivator but more of a monotonous and unavoidable routine. what is your take on this?

The question answers itself I guess. As a developing nation, we were taught and we preach that we have to contribute for the greater good. Sometimes it also means we sacrifice our time and effort too. When I met with an accident, I had lot of time to think about what I really I wanted to do. And what would give me peace. Most of us don’t have that time for reflection. We have filled our free time with one chore or another. When we get out of that routine, we can see what is that we really like doing.

And after that, a little bit of market research and loads of networking, we may find a way to earn doing what we like to do. It’s hard work and takes a lot of time. But it’s worth it.

So many people listen/respond for your posts on SM/FB. What is the reason according to you? Not many get such response. And what is the secret behind your popularity amongst your friend and peers

People really care about me that is for sure. I don’t know if I am popular or not. Regarding the social media posts, I try to keep it less noisy as possible. I don’t comment on or share other people’s posts unless or otherwise I have firsthand experience in the matter discussed. And I don’t make status just like that. In the years I have been in social media I have curated and curated my friends list to  have some good people who are up for discussions both online and offline. Perhaps that makes engagement easier in my blog posts as well as social media posts. And as I said I am always eager for stories. When I show genuine interest in people, they give you back the attention you deserve.

There are lot of debates in SM on what is art and who is an artist? what is your stand on this?

The debates in social media is just noise. Art and definition of artist is very personal for each individual to put it up for discussion. But generally, the debate comes out because of self-proclaimed artists giving out their work too soon. That is an insult to the process. To me art is something that is structure less and is ultimate expression of our thoughts and ideas. Artist is someone who evolves enough to understand his thought process and express it with utmost sincerity and honesty. Rest is just bull crap.

How do you manage your time? for a person who is always punctual how do you keep up amidst doing so many things?

I just do one thing at a time. I suck at multi-tasking and I would never venture there. Most of my plans are done in the weekend. Or at least a day before. Whenever I get out of my house to meet someone I would club it with other chores or schedule meetings with people on the same day. It helps a lot. I have this Sunday evening ritual to set down an agenda for the week. The tasks listed down during this session will take priority over anything that comes adhoc. I have dedicated time for my hobbies as well as profession so that they wouldn’t overlap.

Any tips for writing? reading?

There can be only one tip as far as I am concerned. If you want to be a writer, you just have to sit and write. And then start taking courses, seek feedback, write again. I really don’t have any tips for reading. Before reading there is a process called seeking. If you are not aware of what you want to read and why you want to read, the tons of book you peruse have no meaning at all.

Wishing Bragz much more success in all his endeavours. Visit his blog

Monday, March 05, 2018

Old issues plaguing new solutions

“Is your software racist” screamed a headline on a magazine link that I happened to visit from a blog. When I read the content, it was right out of nightmarish scenario, that is scripted on Hollywood sci-fi movies, where the machines take over the mantle from humans. But unlike the stories that find fault with AI going awry, this article, explores the reason why those mistakes could’ve happened in first place. After all, machines/robots are supposed to be subservient to humans and when they go against the very purpose of their creation, it raises lot of questions, which are bordering on moral or ethical while the answer is more of technical. To put it simply, the articles lays it all on bad coding!!! As simple as that.

Calling it “bad coding”, might be trivializing the issue in a giant sweep. For the issue which the author infers is far more dangerous and something that is quite common place, even in this age of “politically correct” world – racism in other words. The example which probably led to that article being conceived started as a simple translation error where in a tool kept assigning specific work types to specific gender, when the actual script being translated was gender neutral. To put it simply, unless absolutely specified, the tool translated roles like doctor, military etc as male dominions and addressed the person as “he” while roles like nurse, teachers were set as “she”. At the outset it might seem like a trivial issue, not worth all the ruckus. But the issue is far more deep rooted than mere symbolism of feminism and chauvinism. Consider a case of face mapping apps. At the outset it sounds fascinating that a dumb terminal can read your picture and identify you amidst so many scores of pictures and truly it sounds an amazing invention, especially while screening out known delinquents in a crowd and a handy tool for police. But it has a very serious flip side to it when the advanced version of the tool, clubs dark skinned people in same category as apes and gorillas which has raised a furor, courtesy Google’s photo recognition tool in 2015. One can’t blame the tool for it simply responded to the way it had been programmed. When the revelation dawns on you, it becomes all the more critical and a cause for worry, as the depth to which racist thoughts have reached into the collective subconscious of people is alarming, when people unknowingly and unwittingly make such errors.

The issue with problems like racism is that, many a times they are not “visible”. Meaning, the generalizations and stereotypes have been in existence for so long that, despite the volume of voices fighting against them, winning and even silencing the perpetrators to a major extent, the scars haven’t healed fully and considering that its translating into technologies that is supposed to be the liberating factor, the war seems to be never ending. To me, if I have to point to a singular main reason for racism, I would name trust as the key issue. If you tend to trust a person who speaks your language, looks like you, behaves like you more than anyone who looks alien, talks alien and even behaves alien, would you be called as someone who is racist or someone who don’t trust outside people easy? If you form a opinion based on personal incidents or read or observed, about a specific set of people, are you racist or an informed opinionated person? If those thoughts, result in actions towards such people, that may cause them physical or mental harm, are you considered to be securing yourself as pre-emptive or as the world collectively called as racist? If such prejudiced thoughts, formed on basis of ill-advised information, result in intended harm, then it truly fits into the category. But what about those, who in real life are decent people, devoid of any prejudices, but subconsciously, due to years of repeated visuals and interpretations, even for fun sake (though technically they are not) carry it on to their work, which results in a product that is perceived as racist? Especially for those products, that are not immediately identifiable till such incidents, mentioned above, flare up?

Considering that every single government worth its salt, is planning to remove human interference in many areas, especially in fighting wars to policing, by replacing such activities to supposedly unbiased  systems, it all boils back to the age old question of who will guard the guardians. For, end of the day, however sophisticated the tech maybe, it still relies on data provided by humans. As long as the base data itself is biased, there is no solution that would be fair for all. With Alexa, Siri and a whole lot of supposedly intelligent response systems cropping up every single day, hopefully there should be an universally acceptable, unbiased framework that forms the guideline and basis for these in future. But then again, wouldn’t we be reinventing the same wheel? Only time will tell.

Thursday, March 01, 2018

Erotic stories for Punjabi widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal - book review

As almost always, the book courtesy goes to mister Bragz. When I got the book, I wasn’t quite sure whether I would manage to finish it. The title, needless to say, projected it as an “interesting” genre. Suddenly the Indian writing space seems to be abound with stories about Punjabi clan. Probably I’ve woken up to it so late or coincidentally the Indian authors those I read, had set their premise on similar setup. Whatever the case maybe, I found that, more often than not, stories involving Punjabi characters were Dolby stereotyped with surround sound setup thrown in. There would be definite mentions of alcohol, pubs, unnecessary detailing of the locality, especially if its America/Europe, probably trying to show off that they know what they are describing maybe. The Punjabi characters would be projected as brash, with every alternate line of dialogue splashed with liberal dose of local language, most of them alcoholic with the lady characters engaging in drinking binges and above all, when you read such stories, it would either form a mental picture of Karan Johar-ish Bollywood movies or you would never be able to relate to any of those characters. Stories would be around NRI romances and their trauma/tough times in adapting to “phoren” culture.

If I’ve to say anything about this book, in one word, it had disproved almost all of the above prejudices of mine. Yes. The lady lead smokes without abandon and majority of the characters suffer from cross culture confusion. Yet the way in which the story takes shape around those characters, with the central plot as mind boggling as “Fight club” movie, its aces all the way. The fight club reference ran on my mind right from the first erotic story written/transcribed on the “coaching class” and thought there were quite some similarities, especially on the rules of the class. Just like the first rule of the fight club “you do not talk about the class” and the second rule being a repeat of the first rule. Needless to say, the charm/ingenuity/release/attraction/fame of the class, results in both the rules getting broken and what happens next is told in a clichéd fashion. I didn’t like ending as it felt too rushed and as if the author couldn’t figure out an ending worthy of the storyline.

The title has a clever twist as its not Erotic stories “of” Punjabi widows but “for”. It would be revealing too much to explain more on it, but there lies the soul of the book. It’s not your run of the mill feminist monologues or trove of titillating tales. More than anything, it’s funny and at times heartwarming and throws a whole new light on the life and times of elderly widows, their inhibitions and earnings and if given a choice what they can cook up in their imagination. Throw in a mix of honor killing and moral policing alongside a peppy heroine, you’ve got your Bollywood movie script ready-made. I first thought of Kangana Ranaut for the role and later felt she might be too brooding or Kareena Kapoor, but she is too flaky and possibly older for the role. Anushka sharma of “Band Baja Baarat” would have fitted Nikki’s character perfect. A new face, if she can pull it off, would be a wonderful choice as well. To counter balance the rebellious Nikki, her elder sister Mandi, is all desi out and out, including her doubts and confusions. Their parents face the tribulations of those that are typical of Indian parents with kids opting for non-Indian lifestyles. Every single one of the widow character is a gem on their own regard. The premise of erotic stories not just serves as click bait, but a pretty good ploy to bring out the treatment meted out to them and our mindset in general of them. But, as I said, the ending felt all cinematic and rushed. Maybe, the author already had decided for Bollywood, on mind, while finishing it.

I loved reading the book and I am pretty sure would be seeing the onscreen version of it sooner than later. Hope the celluloid version lives up to the book.

Monday, February 26, 2018

The never ending show

“The show must go on” –
the favorite cliché of entertainment industry.

A statement with far deeper meaning than the superficial one of literal continuance.
People in public domain, be it politics, sports or movies, are like products with expiry dates. Very few of them manage to prolong their end dates and for some, the public ensures it’s never ending. The famed lime light, not just puts the spotlight on the personality on focus, but also ages them quick. Few years back, while watching Wimbledon, my friend who is a die-hard Fedex fan, couldn’t stop admitting, grudgingly though, that Nadal was far better on that match. He went on to wonder that they belong to the same age group, yet the stamina and power of Nadal was impossible to imagine. I was stunned for a moment and immediately googled to figure out his age and was surprised to find that Nadal was in his twenties!!! Ditto for cricketers, who despite being on TV month after month featuring some tournament or other, often retire from their field even before they hit mid-thirties. But, when you see them in person, they often appear older than people who are much elder to them. May be it’s the constant attention of media and repeatedly seeing their faces splashed across all forms, we/ I tend to assume they are aged? Don’t cross question the statement like “Does that mean seeing someone regularly makes them old? Then what about those in your family?”. There is no rhyme or logic behind that thought process just that I often tend to assume people in public spotlight especially movie stars and sport stars look aged pretty fast.

That’s why when I got to know that Sridevi was only 55, when she breathed her last, I was shocked and was pretty sure they got the numbers wrong. But astonishingly it was 55 and I was dumbfounded to say the least. For someone who has been acting in movies since the time  of MGR and his peers, she must’ve been in her pre-teens when she was donning roles much elder to her age. I read some articles about her earlier life and it was nothing short of trauma. For those who consider the current day reality shows as abusing childhood in children, hers is a case in point from few decades back. Her on screen persona and the kind of acts that she has played in tamil and telugu industry and the roles that she started with in hindi industry, especially the sobriquet with which she became popular, definitely had a bearing on her personal life as well, with lot many cursing her to be family breaker. Popularity on public domain, invariably has a fallout on the personal life of the stars and Sridevi was no exception to that. No doubt she is one of the most celebrated artists across decades and some of her performances, especially in tamil movies like Johnny and Moonram pirai are sensational. With such childlike enthusiasm, one couldn’t be faulted for assuming, she was a grown up with a child’s mind, whereas it was vice versa.

With condolences pouring in by the second on social media on her demise, there are those who, as always, take contradictory positions, questioning the extraordinary show of sympathy and affection. Worldwide, sports and movies are two domains in which people attain cult status pretty quick and supporters and detractors aside, their claim to fame or infamy will always be set on stone. Agreed that there are so many burning issues raging the nation at present. In few days’ time Sridevi will be as fresh as the news of yesterday. But come her daughter’s movie launch, everything would be back on forefront with renewed vigor. Hope her daughter doesn’t go through the same cycle and have an easier and comparatively normal life.

But again, its show business and you would never know.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Devil's star by Jo Nesbo - book review

Jo Nesbo - Latest addition to list of new authors I’ve started with. Though the series has been on the backburner for about 4 years now, when Brags first shared the list, I thought it was too dark and slow for my taste. But after getting accustomed to lot like Peter Swanson and Tudor, thought of giving it a try. Seems like, psychotic, dark, serial killer murder mysteries are toast of the town at the moment I guess. Probably, the popularity of such themes and topics, with their ingrained evil that is glorified all throughout in immaculate detailing, it has made the readers and general audience alike, numb towards such incidents when it happens in real life. An age old case of art mimicking real life or vice versa. But still, before reading these books, I thought people who make stories out of these should either be psychotic themselves or would’ve underwent/witnessed similar trauma in their own/relations life and predominantly they are recap of real life incidents. But the more commonplace, such dark themes happen and the ease with which more and more authors spin their yarn of imagination around such sickeningly evil themes, makes me yearn for Sherlock and his complexly simple cases. Agreed that they are as similar as chalk and cheese genre wise. Yet, in the name of thrillers, the kind of stories that are in circulation are really scary. Especially when you begin to think from the author’s point of view for inspiration!!!

Getting back to the book, Devil’s star is the first book that I read in the Jo Nesbo series involving Harry Hole, his policeman hero. Apparently it happens to be a middle part of a series involving Harry, for there are quite few throwbacks to what happened on previous installments and alongside the serial killer storyline, there is a parallel track of avenging the death of Harry’s friend. Probably I’ve been reading way too many novels with recurring theme of murder and how “innovative” the way in which the killings happen. Right after the third kill in the story, when the police are wondering on the motive, I felt somehow that the killings are way too perfect for such a small window within which the event had happened and it didn’t fit in. To my horror, when Harry arrives at similar reasoning for figuring out the actual perpetrator
I was stunned. High time to opt for a different lighter theme of books for study.

Gils verdict – For someone who is reading Jo Nesbo for the very first time, it felt, this book was written from title to end approach. I guess to justify the title, the serial killer character is created and is half baked with barely much detailing on the “how” part of the killings. The “why” sounds even stupider and doesn’t make sense. Originally the intent might just have been to create a story of how Harry avenges his friend’s death and to fill up the gap in page count, a serial killer portion has been thrown in. Might make a lousy episode on CSI or pretty soon some Malayalam director will make a suspense thriller out of this storyline, which will be copied by other language guys by default.