Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Snowman by Jo Nesbo - book review

I would never know if I am in binge reading mode of pending books from 2014 or I really do want to finish this Harry hole series. But with 5th book on the trot in this series, should say, I am much more comfortable reading this author now as compared to book one. There is a general familiarity about the repeat characters and even the places and newspaper that are referenced. The cold climate, the regular pub which Harry visits, his dormitory like house and its greyish hue, his nicotine addicted chain smoking drive and his off-on relation with alcohol and his girlfriend, most of the setup carry a sense of familiarity and luckily, even though I boarded the series halfway, have been almost reading it in a sequence. With that background, I can safely say, Snowman is the best of the lot till now.

This one is much unlike the other novels. Its fast- for a change and is quite racy. Though there were still many chapters (read murders) that could’ve been chopped off/edited and it still wouldn’t have made any difference to the ending and would’ve only made it racier, it was still at a manageable level. The parallel story track was almost non-evident, except for the initial portion where Rakel (his girlfriend) splits up and meets someone else and even that has been threaded into main storyline and for the fact that it leads up till the climax is simply brilliant. The storyline is maybe a Norwegian equivalent of Jack the ripper myth, only in this case, the villain is quite closer to the hero. But the twist would hardly be surprising if one sees too much logic into a thriller novel. When the key informant is found to be lying about one of the various who-dun-it’s he should’ve been a suspect halfway into the book and not so late. It robs off the surprise factor in the end. Other than that, it’s quite interesting and with so many murders happening and with each murder a new suspect being identified and with each of those suspects ends up getting killed, it’s a bloodbath out there. Wonder why the chief never complaints to Harry after each time he comes up with a  suspect (and the sureness with which they claim him to be the villain) only to end up being wrong. No one says a thing about how sure Harry always is and how unsure he becomes once the suspect is either caught or about to be caught. The most lenient of police chief character ever I would guess.

Gils verdict – Snowan, I feel, is the best book of the series so far and as compared the previous books the translation was much better and crisp or maybe I am getting used to the flow. Either way, this book would be a delight to thriller genre fans.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Linkedin Park

Gilsbert is seen channeling his inner KJY, belting out the devotional song in all his splendor, passion plus-sed.
The reason for such a travesty being, junior had taken to listening YouTube song videos and by chance had stumbled upon the video of KJY singing the song and had taken an immediate liking to it.
He always try to sing the song with his own lyrics and would be seen humming it during all his play time.
Gilsbert, was doing the lyric correction, telling junior about the right pronunciation when he saw the next door neighbor, who usually pass by, stopping near his house.
“Unga paiyana paaditrunthaan?” asked him with a curious look.
Gilsbert, beaming with that “Eendra pozhuthil perithu uvakkum than maganai chaandron ena kaetta thanthai” look (en thaai thaan peruma padanuma..naangalum paduvom. Ennelaam padaporengarathu poga poga theriyum!!)
“aamaanga. Intha song ivanuku romba pudikum”
The moment he heard the word “song” that guy gave a look as if I had uttered bad word. Avaru avlo peria Aiyappa baktharnu how will I know.
“Mazhalaiya paadran. Aanalum lyrics cleara solran..paatu classla serthu vidunga”
Having said that, the gentleman left. Aprum thaan gilsbertku mandaiku mela mentos bulb erinjuthu.
“mazhalaiya paadraan ok. Aana lyrics seria paadraannu solitu poraaray” nu. Then only the realization came that, thaan paadinatha thaan kuzhantha thanama irukunu that guy sollama sollitu poirukaarunu.
All poramai pudicha ulagam I say.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

All the beautiful lies by Peter Swanson - book review

I was way too anxious, eager and enthusiastic after reading the first three novels by Swanson and was awaiting his next release for almost 4 months. May be the disappointment on his latest novel was because of the hype generated by his previous three blockbuster releases, but even if I had started on this one as the first of the lot, it wouldn’t have made much difference, but for the fact that I wouldn’t have bothered to try the rest of his novels. After reading this one, felt that either he was In a deadline rush to finish the script or simply gave up. The premise is nauseating to say the least – incest. And like the pattern he follows from his previous novels, where every character is as damaged as the villain – rather the most negative of the lot, here, with such a disgusting subject, every single character undergoes abuse or has illicit relations. Adultery is the norm or almost like way of life for every character.
The biggest put off being the weak characterization –the strong point/USP from his previous novels, where we tremble in trepidation along with the characters and even the gore and violence felt part of the characterization, how much ever disturbing they were. But in this novel, he pushes the limits and with every single character repeating the same doesn’t make it a genre by itself or justified. The reason for the murders, if at all they are ever justified, is simply non-existent. The Tarantino-ish ending doesn’t come as a surprise but make it more shabby and the final act of revenge makes the whole setup look like a B grade flick. There is no real suspense or drama and the whole premise is a sham. For a novel titled beautiful lies, surprisingly everyone is truthful and open, despite being on the wrong side.

Gils verdict – to describe the book in one word –YUCK. The most beautiful lie about the book would be the author himself, who simply doesn’t do himself any justice if any one bothers to compare his other works with this one. May be he himself will reject this as a bad dream. I would still recommend his other three books to read though. A definite pleasure for thriller fans. But this one – stay away.

Monday, April 09, 2018

Redeemer by Jo Nesbo - book review

Yet another one on the Harry hole series and the more I read into the series, the more I am convinced that there is a definite template emerging, just like other series of novels. Like the previous novels, climate takes place regular mention and is almost omnipresent. Maybe there is a strong underlying reason to the repeated reference? May be its a metaphor to the kind of characters involved in the stories- harsh and unyielding, changing colors and basically cold in nature, literally and figuratively. The other common aspect that could be noted was the reference to America and its presidency. There is a grudgingly sarcastic attempt to mock Norway’s dependency on USA and for Norway’s role or the lack of it on the major wars. In this book, it’s the Serbian war which takes the parallel story route alongside the recurring storyline involving Harry, just like Redbreast, that dealt with Norway’s role on WWII. There are lot of interesting titbits around the salvation army. You wouldn’t have guessed the kind of role they play in countries like Norway and how rigid their setup is. Interestingly, the role played by Women in that organization and how men try to vie for their attention. Racism, as a topic, is fleetingly touched upon across the series. Be it the way, Muslims (Pakis) are being addressed or reference to neo-Nazi culture, it skims the surface, leaving lot left unsaid.

There is heavy dosage of alcoholism and smoking as a recurring habit and even though there are attempts to showcase how the lead characters are trying to rehabilitate themselves out of them, you could almost smell it out of the book!! For the fellow followers of the series, a major character gets killed. Blame it on the translation or the edit, the chapters involving first person narration of the happenings are way too confusing. With both the contract killer and the villain, talking in first person, it is very difficult to follow who-is-whom. The twist in the end towards the “whodunit” would’ve been more surprising, had only the in between sections been trimmed down. Like his other novels, the sheer volume of description on set piece items is humongous and guess it might occupy more than 40% of the word count of the novel. One word about Harry. He is not your everyday detective ala Sherlock or Poirot, but surely he gets his job done in his own way. But with so many sidetracking incidents strewn all over, his skills gets sidelined.

Another point, that I keep forgetting to mention is on the translation. I googled to find out that the translator does similar works for lot many Nordic authors. As much as one has to appreciate his efforts in turning out reams after reams of stories and trying to get the essence of the original carry forwarded, one cannot help to feel that, the original might still be a lot different and concise.

Gils verdict – To say in a single line, Redeemer is the story of a brother against brother. The motive and means, make it an twisty tale of love, revenge and greed with a whole lot of Serbian war thrown in, as backdrop to facilitate a single character. Still can’t say if it’s the best of the series till the rest are completed.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Of actions and consequences

When someone who is unaware of cricket looks at the events of past week and its culmination, they wouldn’t be unjustified in their astonishment, seeing grown men cry over not being allowed to play as punishment for cheating. Be it at school level or whatever level its being played at, sports is something that is beyond exhibition of physical ability or skill. It’s often seen as the last remaining bastion of sacredness and something that is regarded very highly by nations world over. Any act that brings disrepute to the game is never seen lightly and usually the punishments vary depending on the nature of the crime. Yes. The word is “crime” for disobeying the rules of a “game” supposed to be “played” on the field. Such is the amount of importance society assigns to sports. Even in country like India, where its often lamented that neither the government nor the parents, give enough attention or patronage, people get  decent paying jobs, seats in good educational institutions on “sports quota”. Being good in any game is considered a matter of prestige not just for the individual but also for the region they represent. It’s in this light that the ball tampering saga has been investigated and the guilty party penalized.

What pains more is that the culprits involved where world beaters on their own. Smith was touted as the next Bradman and Warner can win wars on his own on his given day. Had they tampered with their bats to score more heavily, it might have gone down the likes of Ben Johnson and his doping scam. But more than influencing their score line, their efforts in trying to win over the opposition by altering the level playing field to the advantage of their team had extrapolated their misdeed to monumental level. As it is the potent of Aussie attack is world known and trying to add more edge by tampering the ball felt like an overkill to any bystander. On closer inspection, it throws bad light on the way their bowlers have been picking wickets all while and discredits their honest efforts. Considering that Starc is already out of the last test match under injury scare, only adds more fuel to fire.

All said and done, banning the best bats in business for an year sounds way too harsh. As much as their acts have brought disrepute to a nation priding itself on its sports glory and how much ever one argue that it might set as a deterrent for erring players in futures, the loss is as much for the game as much for the individuals. Of all the person, Smith!!!! Why Smith, Why? It was heartbreaking to see his latest interview on emotional admission and his press conference on the day of the outbreak, felt like a movie scene with raw and real emotions simmering all over. The way he carried himself and in owning the responsibility, he sure would’ve won hearts world over and despite the macho image of the astonishing numbers he had churned on the test arena, his tears showed that he is still a 28 year old captain, swayed by wrong impulse of the moment. Somehow similar kind of sentiment doesn’t seem to apply for Warner or Bancroft. Probably because, Smith is like the first bencher, whom everyone adores for his good marks/runs and Warner is the last bencher, always looking for trouble. End of the day, it has weakened the very team, they were trying to rebuild as world beaters. Hope to see them soon, back in action, scoring heavily against all opposition, except India of course J

Thursday, March 29, 2018

An heartwarming post

Probably the shortest post in this space. Check the link below to get to know about what politicians can do and when they actually do what they are supposed to do, the kind of support they get.
Here's the link - to believe.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

As simple as simple gets

A while back I had the good fortune to read an yet to be titled book by Bragz. It’s a love story involving three different couples, who are friends and colleagues and how each of them impact the other in arriving at a critical decision about their individual lives form the crux of the story. Towards the end of the book, there is a Sunder C movie like comic caper that hastens the happy ending as well and overall it felt like a movie script. The reason for this post was not as a review for the book, but for the singular character, who albeit was not the titular or lead one, yet, the characterization couldn’t be more profound. The story begins with an intro scene for his character, Paulraj, which is reminiscent of yesteryear Mahendran/Balu Mahendra movies and makes you sit up and take notice right away. I read the novel more than a month back so the version might not be verbatim. But, here you go.

It begins with a cyclist, being overtaken by an auto. The cyclist, Paulraj, on his casual ride till that time, suddenly feels an urge to overtake the auto. It’s not out of thrill of the need for speed, not to prove a point or out of anger. He simply wants to overtake it once and even if the auto goes past him again, he is least bothered. That single instance of “victory”, the happiness of overtaking the auto just for the heck of it when the other party is not even aware that a race is happening, The “rush” that you get when you savor that moment, might sound so much trivial and childish, but for those who get to “have” such moments, it would make a resounding connect. I often do that while walking J Quite often I have to walk for at least a mile to reach my bus stop and incase of no songs to listen, it makes a boring affair. If I see someone walking ahead at a distance, I goad myself into crossing them within some short time or before they cross a nearby landmark and push myself to walk past. At times when I do manage to cross them before my “stipulated” time, used to feel like Bolt cutting across the winning ribbon on Olympics. I know it sounds “pakkiest” to say the least J But it’s a fun feeling. It takes mind off so many other things that might pull you down and for what it’s worth it goes on to prove that even for the most  trivial of matters if you put your mind to it, you can actually overcome. But putting such a positive spin to a simple activity would be robbing it off its meaninglessness J Why should everything have a motive or necessity or have any meaning itself in first place. You may not risk cutting across a speeding auto in Chennai traffic, which is more of a death wish than anything. But time to time, a simple act, which has no sense in the “grander scheme of things”, feels like…fun.
As per the story, Paulraj is a glorified wastrel for almost three fourths of the book, pampered by his brother (emotional blackmail/self-inflicted penance) and wife (for reasons best known to her) and is hardly the role model you would want to remember. In fact his entire characterization is engrained in that singular act of “winning” over the auto. Typically he would never be your hero material in an ideal world, but the single scene of carefree joy that he gets to enjoy, surely found its mark.