Monday, October 31, 2011

The Poisoned Chocolate Case by Anthony Berkeley

Sir Eustace is a playboy who changes mistresses like ordinary people change clothes. He is not reticent about his lifestyle and over a course of time has made more enemies then Saddam Hussein. Somebody sends him a box of liquor chocolates which he passes to someone else and who in turn passes them unto his wife. The wife is found dead after consuming the chocolates; it is discovered that the chocolates had each contained a lethal poison.
The Crime remains unsolved. Who sent the poisoned chocolates? Becomes an obscure question for the Scotland Yard. Enter the Crime Club, A club of 6 criminologists; each member is an expert and well-known name in their fields. The Crime Club takes this puzzle as a challenge and all the six members start there independent investigations into the case and then each one provides a solution to the murder mystery. The club meets every evening for six consecutive days so that each member may provide their solution to this intriguing case.
Mr. Berkeley debuts on my humble little blog and boy what a debut! This is one of the best books and not just a mystery book that I have read for a long time. The Language in the book is very clean, there is no racism or digs at any community. Also the language it is so very pure, I got to learn a new word on almost every third page. My vocabulary is not bad but after reading this one I feel like I must have learnt 40 new words. The book is full of humor, I had many laugh out loud moments in the book which frankly speaking you are not expecting out of a murder mystery. The writer I felt was totally in command everything worked for him from the humor to the mystery and the depth of the characters.
About the characters: they are so well written and so life like (I know it’s a clique but so true in this case) that I feel like I know them in real life. The six members or other characters in the book are so vividly described that you connect with them instantly.
The mystery in itself is simple its murder by poisoning, it is not an Impossible crime. But the identity of the murderer is not simple and as each member of the club comes up with their solution of the crime and the identity of the murderer the case becomes more and more mysterious and funny. Each member when concludes their dictum you feel that this one is correct and the mystery is solved but it obviously isn’t. Till the time the last speaker concludes we get probably one of the most shocking twists in the history of detective fiction. This is six mysteries packed in one, buy your copy today.

Where can you buy this? It is in print and available at all book stores like FlipKart, Infibeam, Landmark and Om Book Shop for less than Rs 500.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Peril at end house by Agatha Christie

Poirot and Hastings are enjoying there vacation on the Cornish Rivera. Very soon they meet the beautiful and lively Nick. Nick is leading a charmed life she has had several very close encounters with death. A large painting fell over her bed while she was sleeping, a large boulder came tumbling down where she was bathing, the brakes of her car failed when she was going out and now Poirot discovers a hole in her hat and a bullet shell. The infallible Poirot and his faithful Watson Hastings offer to protect mademoiselle Nick.

Nick appoints the two as her protectors and invites the two to her house called the "end house". A small group of family, neighbors and friends are invited to the end house that day to watch the fireworks on the 6th of November but amidst the fireworks a shot is fired and as Poirot and Hastings are walking towards the house there is a dead body lying on the floor.

Review: The pair of Poirot and Hasting are back and this time they must prevent a murder as well as solve one. This book came as highly rated and someone have even called it a Hidden gem, I'll tell you what whenever I read a book I always in the very few chapters take my guess at the murderer , then I keep on linking events in the book to the murderer. To be very frank this isn't much of a mystery a careful reader can easily figure out who the murderer is. That said I do think that overall the book is not bad, it is fast paced and does not seem lengthy.

Dame Christie has explored some new themes in this one like drugs and its abuse, also one good think in this book is the chemistry between Poirot and Hastings. The banter between the two is enjoyable. One big negative that I felt was that most of the characters have Been left underdeveloped which is quite unlike the queen of crime, another negative is the racist references to Jews, domestic helps and foreigners. This one is not highly recommended.

Where can I buy it: flip kart, landmark any books store won't cost more then 150 rs

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Hollow Man aka The Three Coffins by John Dickson Carr

A murder has been committed on the Cagliostro street by an invisible killer, there were witnesses and yet they saw nothing, there was snowfall and yet no footprints and there were whispers but no clue as to who spoke them.

But then there is another murder and this one even more baffling. Professor Grimaud a man who studies the Supernatural is found shot in his room by an apparition who wore a child mask and had black hair which look like they were made of paper mache. 

A few days before Professor Grimaud is murdered, he is threatened by a strange man who reminds him something about his past. Petrified and worried the professor does something strange, he goes out and buys a large painting of three graves with the backdrop of a gigantic tree in an unknown country. Was the professor trying to protect himself by a charm?

The murderer had locked the professor in a room with only two entrances, a door which is being watched by two witnesses and a Window 50 foot high. After shooting, when the door of the room is broken down there is no sign of the murderer. He could not have gotten out of the door as there were two witnesses who swear they saw the childish mask wearing apparition go inside but not come outside, then there is the impossible situation of the Window, which is 50 foot high and anyone jumping outside the Window would surely leave footsteps outside on the snow but there are none. so when the poor professor is found shot in his study he is alone and there is no trace of the killer who is lighter then air and is surely the Hollow man.

Dr. Fell investigates the most famous case of his career and the gives the most famous lecture in detective fiction.


The start of the story is a cracker, it is absolutely mystical and intriguing. One impossible locked room murder committed under creepy circumstances by a guy who looks right out of the Halloween movies and another one in the middle of the street with witnesses who say they saw a man die but did not see the killer! The Hollow Man was voted as the best locked room mystery of all time by a panel of mystery authors and reviewers and I don't want to challenge them, but the ending and the explanation is way too complicated for me, I would have liked something a bit simpler like the Judas Window or the Reader is Warned. That said this novel has too many great things and very few negatives, for example the famous locked room lecture by Dr. Fell.

In the lecture Dr. Fell address the readers and tells them various methods in which a hermetically sealed locked room can be constructed and then challenges the reader to find out which one was used to murder Professor Grimaud.

Ratings: 4 out of 5

Where can you buy it? Infibeam or try Landmark, this is not easy to find and you might have to shell 500 bucks

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Reader is Warned by Carter Dickson

Dr. Sander's gets an invitation from Mina and Sam Constable to spend a weekend at their house with few friends and a mind reader. Dr. Sanders meets the mysterious and unobtrusive Herman Pennik, Pennik is a telepath or claims to be one. He can read minds and demonstrates it.

Pennik says "That Thought has a physical force like sound. Notes in sound can shatter a glass or even kill a man. The same applies to thought "

An unfortunate accident has landed all the domestic help in the hospital, so Pennik offers to cook for the Constables and there guests, Sam Constable is surprised by knowing that Pennik can cook in addition to his other out of the world skills. Sam asks Pennik if dinner would be ready by 8?

Pennik: "If you like. But I do not think that Mr Constable that you will get any Dinner" to which the irate Constable questions "Not get my dinner? Why the Devil shouldn't I get my dinner"

to which Pennik replies "I don't think you will be alive at 8 o'clock!!"

The Grandfather clock stood at one minute to eight when Mina Constable began to scream so loudly and with such terror that it could mean only one thing ~ The Reader is warned


This is a case of Classic misdirection by Carr. I have read a few Carr's in my life time but this one is probably one of the best. The murderer has a water tight alibi. The one who don't have an alibi and are suspects in the murder are the next victim themselves and so it becomes confusing. The book keeps on getting more and more mysterious as you keep on turning the pages, it is not unit the final 10 pages that the mystery is completely revealed and what does come out as the solution is not for the weak heart. The way and the manner in which the murderer confesses, boasts and explains the crimes is a little chilly, This is not a locked room murder but an impossible one none the less.

There are parts in the book which are very gripping like when Sanders tells Chief Inspector Masters about the three ways a person can die of violence(murder) without any sign, internal or external to show what killed him. There is also one part where HM tells Sanders about why a certain person is lying.

This novel is part of the HM series and like most of HM novels this is a Classic. Highly recommended but this comes with a warning there are some explicit signs of Racism and the use of the 'N' word and a little derogatory language against the Africans, but you need to keep in mind when this book was written. At that time Racism was at its peak and these authors were following the traditions of the society.

Deducting half a star for the little racist comments:

Where Can you buy this: I got this for 854 bucks from Infibeam, the book was second hand and in not the best condition but totally worth it, the book is out of print I think cause of the racist comments.

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