Friday, December 28, 2012

The Case of the Velvet Claws by Erle Stanley Gardner

Like so many of Perry Mason's clients, a young beautiful woman calls on Perry in his office. She is in big trouble, she is married and was caught in an inn with another man, who happens to be a rising politician.
If this information leaks to the press both there reputations would be sullied for life. As luck would have it, a nosey newspaper which is infamous for blackmailing has got involved. Now this woman wants Perry to circumvent her from this precarious predicament.

Perry Mason pays Belter, the owner, of the ignoble newspaper a visit and threatens him with unpleasant consequences if he tries to dig more in this story. As Mason is exiting Belter's home, he bumps into his wife, who turns out to be the same woman who visited Mason in his office.

Mrs Belter calls Perry in the dead of the night, she says that it is an emergency and Mason drives up to her on a rainy night. He finds her a little distance from her home, soaked wet, the woman is hysterical she says that she heard her husband arguing with someone on the top floor in her husband's room. Later she heard the same person shoot her husband and then run away in a car. Perry is shocked and starts to haggle with Mrs Belter on finding out more about the killer, Mrs Belter tells him that she did recognize a familiar voice, she thinks that the person who was arguing with her husband and then shot him was Perry Mason!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon

Wellington is dead. He has been stabbed with a pitch fork, Christopher lifts him in his arms and gives him a hug, his shirt gets soaked with blood. Mrs Shears walks in, and starts shouting in disgust "What the fuck have you done to my dog?". Mrs Shears calls the police, when the police arrive they found Christopher lying down with his head between his knees. The Policeman tries to lift Christopher but Christopher hates being touched and hits the policeman, he gets arrested.

Christopher is then bailed out from Jail by his father, but Chris is bent on finding out who and why did somebody murder a dog? Chris is a child with special needs, and during his investigation and adventure he takes the reader through his world and how he perceives our lives.

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Pale Horse by Agatha Christie

A priest is called upon to attend to a dying woman, the woman makes the priest privy to a wicked secret before taking her last breath. The priest is found next day murdered and inside his shoe is hidden a list of names, who are these people? are they victims of a conspiracy or the conspirators?

Mark Easterbrook, is a Writer/Historian who gets mixed up in this story. Easterbrook finds out that there is a place called Pale Horse, whereac deaths are arranged. Mark is deeply intrigued and starts finding out more about this place and even arranges a visit. It turns out that the Pale Horse in an old inn that is now inhabited by three spinsters who claim to be witches, people say that using the occult these women can eliminate impediments and can cause people to suddenly fall sick and die. The usually suave and highbrow Mark, now begins to wonder is there more to these seemly harmless but eccentric women or is this is all the result of an over zealous mind.

Mark and the police try to connect the dots, how is the murder of the priest, and a host of seemingly natural deaths related to the Pale Horse. In order to uncover the truth, Mark plays a dangerous game and risks the life of one his dear ones, but to consequences that even the witches cannot foresee.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Arabian Nights Murder by John Dickson Carr

Dr Gideon fell, is brought face to face with his most bizarre case yet, nothing makes sense . Why would an old man jump off an Oriental museum wall and accuse a police officer of malevolent machinations and then try to punch him? The police man defends himself and knocks down the old timer, he goes for help and when comes back finds that the old blighter has disappeared. Later, when an inspector opens the door of a carriage to investigate some strange goings-on in the museum, a dead body jumps out at him and protruding from his chest is a Persian dagger,  also it has fake whiskers on its chin and a cookbook clutched in his hand.
what does all this mean? with a plethora of strange characters and incidents, Dr fell systematically unravels this mystery wrapped like an onion.

Review: The only way to read this book is after getting drunk, the plot is unnecessarily confusing, and a lot of things which have very low odds of happening, end up happening together to irritate and disconcert the reader.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

What to read on Halloween?

It's that time of the year when the dead come back to haunt the living. Halloween reminds one of jack-o-lanterns, trick or treating and the Simpson's Tree House of Horror specials. I have made it an annual ritual to have a horror movies marathon or to read a mystery book with elements of the supernatural on this most dreadful day :O

So, on this Halloween if you are looking for a bit of murder, a bit of mystery and spine chilling, blood curling horror, then read on.....

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

All The Lonely People by Martin Edwards

Plot: Henry Devlin, is a solicitor who lives alone in his humble abode in Liverpool. One day when he comes back home he has an unexpected visitor. This visitor is the beautiful Liz, Henry's estranged wife, whom he has not heard from in two years. Liz cheated on Henry and left him as an emotional wreck when she walked out on their marriage. Henry is still in love with Liz and aches for her to get back with him. The amorous Liz informs Henry that she has dumped her lover and is now in a relationship with another man. Henry sees his chance and hopes that the two of them can reconcile, but Liz gets murdered she is stabbed several times and left to die. The police make Henry the number one suspect, the solicitor has to now not only prove that he is innocent but also find out who murdered his wife. In his quest Henry will discover that his wife had a most disturbing and tumultuous past.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Top 10 Mystery Films

I was having a discussion with one of my cousins over the best English whodunits/murder mysteries. We both came up with our lists and I thought it would be nice to share it with a broader audience.

So  here goes:

10. The Name of the Rose - Starring Sean Connery as a detective monk, this movie is based on a novel by  Umberto Eco. William of Baskerville and his novice Adso of Melk travel to a monastery in Northern Italy to attend a theological debate. As they arrive, the monastery is disturbed by a suicide. As the story unfolds, several other monks die under mysterious circumstances. William is tasked by the Abbot of the monastery to investigate the deaths as fresh clues with each murder victim lead William to dead ends and new clues. The protagonists explore a labyrinthine medieval library, discuss the subversive power of laughter, and come face to face with the Inquisition. The scene in the labyrinthine library and the motive for the murders are truly awesome!

9. Witness for the Prosecution - Written by the Queen of Crime, an American living in London, Leonard Vole stands accused of murdering his older benefactress shortly after her will is changed in his favor. Barrister Wilfrid Robarts (Laughton) agrees to take the case, even though he’s recovering from heart trouble and should be avoiding the excitement of a high-profile murder trial. The evidence seems strong against Vole, but his German wife (Dietrich), a clever, mysterious former cabaret performer, steps forward and provides an alibi. Sir Wilfrid has his doubts, which prove prophetic when the wife turns up as a witness for the prosecution, all but shattering his case. The canny barrister finds a way to save his client initially, but there are quite a few more satisfying plot twists and great surprises before we reach the end of the tale.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Rhythm of Riddles: Three Byomkesh Bakshi Mysteries

Our Favorite Bengali detective is back, the good people at Puffin have reprinted three of his stories in English for us non Bengalis. The book has a forward by Film director Dibakar Banarjee and has been translated in English from Bengali by Arunava Sinha. As the title suggests the book has three detective stories starring  Byomkesh Bakshi and his faithful sidekick Ajit. Please see Capsule review of the three stories below:

The Rhythm of Riddles aka Paheli Gatha- While Byomkesh is away on business, a man living on the ground floor of their rented accommodation is murdered, Ajit and a few acquaintances are playing bridge on the first floor of the same house and witness a man draped in a brown shawl running away from the scene of the crime, unfortunately Ajit is also wearing a brown shawl and becomes a suspect. When Byomkesh returns he is infuriated on finding out that there has been a murder right under his nose and his best friend is being maliciously accused by the Police, Byomkesh starts investigating and discovers that the victim might have deserved his untimely end.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie

Plot Summary : In London 1919, young Tommy and Tuppence are on the brink of destitution, both are out of jobs and the two old friends are in desperate need of money. They come up with the idea of "The Young Adventurers, Ltd ", where they plan to get hire as adventurers and will do any job, provided the money is good. A man called Whittington, overhears their idea and employs Tuppence, but then mysteriously disappears. The duo search for Whittington and discover that he works for Mr Brown, a criminal mastermind whose identity is incognito to even those who are most close to him.

Mr Brown is after a treaty which was drafted during the great war but got lost, this treaty at no cost should fall in Mr Brown's hands because if it does then it will ensure a revolution which might bring down the British Government. Tommy and Tuppence are now hired by the government as spies, who want them to find out as much as they can about this enigmatic business. The only problem is that the mysterious Mr Brown is watching their every step, more closely than they can ever imagine.

The dedication of the book reads:

"To all those who lead monotonous lives in the hope that they experience at second hand the delights and dangers of adventure"

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Valley of Fear by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Sherlock Holmes receives a cryptic message from one of his informants, on deciphering this clandestine message, Holmes and Watson discover that someone named John Douglas is in great danger. Inspector MacDonald comes calling on Holmes with the news of a man called John Douglas, who has been mysteriously and brutally killed in Sussex.

John Douglas has been killed in his own home, surrounded by a moat, wide but only two or three feet deep.  The house has a drawbridge which is drawn up every night. John was shot through the face by a sawed shotgun, so whoever intended to murder him was not looking to keep things quiet, the police identify his body by a tattoo of a triangle inside a circle on his forearm, another perplexing mystery to the murder is that John's wedding ring is missing, the wedding ring was under the nugget ring which was found intact, why would someone take only the wedding ring? other residents of the house tell the police that John was a brave man but always had seemed troubled by some unknown danger. Holmes tries to use his deductions to solve this case of murder, secret societies and master criminals.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Case For Three Detectives by Leo Bruce

Mrs Thurston is an amiable, benevolent, harmless middle aged woman. She loves to entertain and play the hostess, one evening when she was playing her part as a hostess to perfection, sleep induces her to leave her party and retire to bed. A few minutes later the guests in her drawing room below hear blood curling screams of a woman, the party rushes upstairs only to find Mrs Thurston's bedroom bolted from the inside.

They break open the door and find the poor lady murdered, her throat has been slit and there is no sign of the killer, there are two windows in the room, but looking outside they see no one and the flower bed beneath the window is undisturbed. After a through search of the room no one is found hiding in the room and there is no indication of a secret entrance. Then, where did the killer go? pretty soon people realize that they have all just witnessed a locked room murder, a locked room murder is obviously out of the league of local police sergeant, Beef.

Enter Lord Plimsoll, Amer Picon and Monsignor Smith, three amateur detectives who will remind the reader of three very famous literary detectives, as the three detectives race against each other to solve the crime, Sergeant Beef sits contemptuously in the background shouting that he has the solution, but will anyone listen?

Friday, September 14, 2012

Punjabi Poirot

The Case of The man who Died Laughing by Tarquin Hall

Vish Puri, a Punjabi detective and owner of the "Most Private Investigators" detective agency is embroiled in a case of biblical proportions. Dr Jha, a rationalist and staunch Atheist has been murdered by the hands of Goddess Kali! In Hindu mythology Kali, is the foremost among the ten fierce Tantric goddesses. Witnesses at the scene describe seeing a 20 foot apparition of Kali, at the sight of the dreaded goddess they froze at their spot as an enigmatic mist began to veil their surroundings, then the consort of Shiva leaped several feet in the air and struck Dr Jha in the chest with her Schimtar.

The Delhi Police Inspector who is given the job of investigating this supernatural crime, realizes that this case is out of his league, corollary he calls Vish Puri, the Punjabi version of Hercule Poirot. Vish Puri or "Wish Poori" together with his team of agents, against the back drop of Delhi and a quintessential Punjabi family try to solve this most peculiar crime.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

A Taste for Death by P.D. James

Two men lie in a welter of blood in the Vestry of St Matthew's Church, Paddington. Their throats have been slit brutally with a shaving razor. One of the dead men is Sir Paul Berowne, a recently resigned minister of the crown and the other dead man is a tramp called Harry Mack. Adam Dalgliesh and his newly formed team investigate this mysterious crime, Dalgliesh and his team would have to carry out the investigation with extraordinary prudence because what they will discover hidden in the  secrets of Sir Paul Berowne will be more death and blood.


Phyllis Dorothy James has been writing novels since 1962 and continues to write till date, her latest novel being Death comes to Pemberley, published in 2011. Her novels star the police detective and poet Adam Dalgliesh. She is also the author of "The Children of Men", which has also been successfully adapted on the big screen. Three novels from P.D. James figure in the Top 100 Crime Novels of all time, including A Taste for Death, you can check out this link to see the rest of the list. Although to be honest this is a list of the best crime novels and not mysteries, although murder mysteries are obviously crime novels as well so the line gets blurred . "A Taste for Death" can be categorized as detective fiction and as a murder mystery, but does it really deserve its place among the best mysteries?

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Incredulity of Father Brown by G.K. Chesterton

Continuing my reading into the Father Brown Series, and having read The Innocence of Father Brown and then the Wisdom of Father Brown, I have now corollary moved to the The Incredulity of Father Brown, which is chronologically the third book in the Father Brown series. I'm going to do capsule reviews of the eight short parables which make up The Innocence of Father Brown.

The Resurrection of Father Brown - Father Brown is perambulating in a South American town, when he is struck by two men who come from nowhere and leave the inconspicuous priest lifeless, but wait is he really dead? or is at an elaborate scheme against Christianity and the Church. No mystery here, this is the worst opening story that a book could have. The characterization is so pathetic that it is difficult to remember and care about the characters, they just seem too fanatic for my taste, either a character is too religious or too atheist. The story serves as a reminder to everyone who have forgotten the virtues and nobleness of Catholicism and the ignobility and vices of the heathen religions and the depravity of Atheism.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Burning Court by John Dickson Carr

 Mark Despard is disturbed. His uncle Miles Despard has died and he thinks somebody poisoned him. Mrs Henderson, the maid, claims that while the house was empty and Miles was in his room, she saw the silhouette of a woman standing over his bed, giving him a drink and then disappearing through a door which was not there. Mrs Henderson could not make out who this women was but she did describe the dress that she was wearing, she was wearing the dress worn by Madame de Brinvilliers, the french serial killer who poisoned tens of people and then was caught by an ancestor of the Despards. In 1676, she was guillotined and then burnt at the stake.

There was another detail about the enigmatic visitor that Mrs Henderson missed but later recited, she felt that  the neck of the woman wasn't properly "fastened"! The Despards now think that it was the ghost of Madame de Brinvilliers who came back to take revenge on the bloodline of her nemesis, and that is how the specter escaped from a door that was not there.

Mark Despard wants to now exhume the body of his dead uncle and check if he was poisoned or not. Mark enlists two old friends for this clandestine task. Together they open the crypt where the Despards keep their dead, then they open the wooden coffin and find that apparently Miles Despard has escaped from his grave. The Coffin is empty. The Crypt has remained unperturbed since the day Miles was buried with his ancestors. Furthermore, the crypt is made of granite which is impregnable and the question of hidden passages is ruled out. So where did the dead body of Miles go? and who was the women who entered Miles room on the night of his murder and where did she disappear? In this tale of the occult, witches, poisoners and murders nobody is what they seem.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Nine and Death makes Ten aka Murder in the Submarine Zone by Carter Dickson

When I first started reading mysteries, I was greatly influenced by "And then there were none" by Agatha Christie and so I started looking for books similar to it. My arduous search efforts led me to "Nine and Death makes Ten" and corollary the discovery of John Dickson Carr, but alas the book was out of print and me being a novice classic mystery hunter had no idea on how to get my covetous hands on it. So I searched some more titles from the then obscure author, and ordered The Judas Window from an online bookstore.

I kept reading others books and simultaneously kept looking for that elusive book with the cover of a black ship in the front and that green skull in the background. Finally after much efforts and properly utilizing a lot of money and time I have got hold of the 1940 Classic.


Abroad an ocean liner called the Edwardic, are nine passengers who are travelling at the beginning of the second world war from New York to England. The ship has to go through the submarine zone where a Nazi torpedo could sink them to the bottom of the sea. The Edwardic's nine passengers who are risking their lives for this travel are faced with the additional problem of Murder!

One of the passengers among the nine is found murdered, throat slit and blood splattered in the cabin, but the   murderer has committed a grave mistake and left his/her fingerprints at the scene of the crime. The ship's Captain orders that everyone's fingerprints be taken and then matched with the murderer's to determine the perpetrator of this ghastly crime, next comes the impossible mystery which is that the murderer's fingerprints do not match with anyone on board the Edwardic, neither the passengers nor anyone from the ship's crew. The Ship's Captain orders the old man to take over the investigation but this time HM is up against a willy opponent who might just make it his last case.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Hag's Nook by John Dickson Carr

 Martin Starberth has to spend one hour in a desolate prison cell all alone, on doing this he would inherit the Chatterham prison whom his forefathers have governed for many generations, but Martin's well wishers fear for him. Their fears are based on terrible antecedences of the Starberth male heirs. Anthony Starberth was the original governor of the prison and had it built on the blood and dead bodies of the prisoners. Anthony was a sadistic prison warden who kept his prisoners in abysmal conditions, with little or no light the prisoners of the Chatterham prison had to fight for their food with giant rats.

Anthony Starberth used to watch the hangings from his balcony, which was directly above a well in which the lifeless bodies of the dead were disposed to rot for eternity. One unforgettable night Anthony Starberth was himself found dead over the edge of the well, one of the spikes round the circumference of the well had gone straight through his heart.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Best Miss Marple Books

I used to dislike Miss Marple stories a lot, I say a lot because I read thirteen of them in the 13 problems and then I read Murder is Announced and I was hooked for life. Miss Marple books are easy reads and the identity of the murderer can be guessed by a smart reader half way through the book, but that does not take anything away from this wonderful series. I have already done a best of Hercule Poirot and Best of Agatha Christie books and now its time for my list of best Miss Marple books or the top 5 Marple books. Lets start the countdown for the top Miss Marple mysteries

Monday, July 23, 2012

Nemesis by Agatha Christie

Plot Summary: Miss Marple receives intimation from a law firm in London, the lawyers tell Jane Marple about a task that she has to undertake on completion of which she will get a small reward of twenty thousand pounds. These lawyers are proxies for Mr Rafiel, who Miss Marple met in her adventure in “A Caribbean Mystery”, but now Mr Rafiel has unfortunately passed away and has left behind a letter for Miss Marple.

The Letter elucidates that Miss Marple has to undertake a mission and carry out justice. Miss Marple is more than willing to do so but the problem is that it is the only information the letter conveys. Jane Marple can’t help but wonder if it is all a joke. Does she have to solve a murder? or prevent a crime or a theft or maybe help the CIA catch Al Zawahari. The poor old lady does not have anything to go on and she must now use her wits to prove that to injustice she really is the Nemesis.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises

I thought something different was in order after putting up 51 book reviews on this humble little blog. If you have ever read my blog or have met me , you will instantly realize that I like all sort of escapism, whether it be in literature or cinema. My friends and family often get vexed with me for my refusal to indulge my senses in any other form of entertainment other than escapism. But why am I digressing? because I want state a case for a movie review on a blog about classic mystery books, although this is a movie and not a book but it has all the elements that I like in a piece of fiction including of course a well layered mystery . So, lets get down to business.

Plot: After the disturbing incidents of "The Dark Knight", Batman has not been seen for 8 years and Bruce Wayne has become a recluse. Gotham is at peace and Commissioner Gordon is almost ready to hang his boots but the peace of Gotham is only superficial. The League of shadows is targeting Gotham again and this time they will not fail because the ruthless Bane is spearheading this attack. Bane uses Selina Kyle(Catwoman) to get Bruce Wayne's fingerprints and then execute a trade using his prints to bankrupt and then take over Wayne enterprises.

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Man in a Red Coat and other Byomkesh Bakshi stories by Saradindhu Bandyopadhyay

I have polished yet another set of Byomkesh Bakshi stories, please see a short write up on all the stories below.

Raktomukhi Neela aka The Deadly Diamond - An occult blue diamond has been stolen from a King, the King wants it back at any cost and hires Byomkesh to retrieve it. A decent short story to open the anthology with, although the way Byomkesh is able to get the diamond in the end from a hardened criminal looked a bit flimsy.

Seemonto Heera aka The Hidden Heirloom - Another story about a stolen diamond, there is no mystery here as to who stole it but the task given to Byomkesh is to retrieve the heirloom. Byomkesh has to search for the diamond in the thief's abode and the location of the diamond is not much of a mystery but the cat and mouse game between Byomkesh and Digindranarayn Roy, the person who stole and then hid the diamond is very interesting. The way Roy constantly tortures Byomkesh is hilarious and also Roy manages to outsmart Byomkesh more then once in this tale of the hidden diamond

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Many years ago Hugo Baskerville had committed an atrocious and deplorable sin for which he was aptly punished but the punishment did not stop there, a terrible curse was put on the Baskervilles which has plagued them for generations. A Hell hound, a beast that is so frightful that the mere act of looking at it causes unimaginable horror to its victims. Legend says that the beast is a bloodhound which can track its victim from one end of the moor to another, it is as big as a lion and as vicious as a  pack of wolves, it has great big flaming eyes which can conjure the fires from hell itself.

A descendant of the Baskervilles, the amiable and benevolent Sir Charles Baskerville,  takes up his abode at the Baskerville hall. He acts as a benefactor to the village people and makes a lot of friends in the community  but always in the back of his mind are the moors and that hell hound. One fateful night Sir Charles ventures in the desolate moor and is found the next day, dead. His face contorted in a ghastly expression and his footprints on the moor suggest that he had been running from something, Nearby, Mortimer(a friend of Charles) discovers footprints of a gigantic hound!

After Sir Charles death, the whole estate is bequeathed to Sir Henry Baskerville, the last living descendant of the Baskervilles. The lone Baskerville decides to take up his residence in the same Baskerville hall and in the same moor. Mortimer has no choice but to approach Holmes for advice and protection. Holmes and Watson vow to protect their client from this curse and end this superstition, but as Watson and Holmes will soon find out legends can sometimes come true.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Why Didn't They Ask Evans?

 "Why Didn't They Ask Evans?" is what a dying man said to Bobby, the Vicar's Son. Bobby was playing golf with the local doctor and he hit a ball over the edge of a cliff. In trying to retrieve the ball Bobby saw a dying man on the rocks, the dying man said these words and passed away.

Few days later the man was identified and his death was attributed to an accident. Bobby who had all forgotten about this was enjoying a chilled beer under a tree after consuming the beverage he went for a nap only to wake up in a hospital. Apparently, Bobby had been poisoned by someone. 

Bobby's rich, aristocrat and vivacious friend Frankie thinks that his poisoning is somehow connected to the business over at the cliff. Frankie and Bobby take up the role of amateur sleuths and start investigating this mystery. The deeper they get into it, the more they realize that this mystery is an abyss with layers and layers of obscurity and that the only way the two would ever solve it, is if they find out "Why didn't they ask Evans?"

Review: I have in the past few weeks read and reviewed some below par or sub standard Christie's, and most of these were written outside the golden age. So, I decided to pick up a golden age non-series(no Poirot or Marple) book for my next read and picked this 1934 piece of detective fiction, but does this stand up to the golden age reputation?

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Wisdom of Father Brown by G.K. Chesterton

After reading the Classic "The Innocence of Father Brown" I thought I will give another book in the series a try. So going chronologically I picked up The Wisdom of Father Brown, published in 1914 The Wisdom of Father Brown consists of 12 short stories similar to its predecessor and again I will do capsule reviews for all twelve stories like I did for its illustrious predecessor.

The Absence of Mr Glass - Father Brown approaches a criminologist to ask for his help in a peculiar case of Mr Todhunter who is many times found locked in his room with two voices coming from inside but when the door is opened there is only one, apparently there is talk in the village that a man in a silk hat arises from the sea to meet Mr Todhunter and then disappears in the sea. A nice opening story to the book with an amusing ending.

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Moving Toyshop by Edmund Crispin

Plot Summary : Richard Cadogan is a famous poet who reaches Oxford in the middle of the night on his holiday. While walking on Iffley road Cadogan notices a queer shop and when curiosity gets the better of him, he enters the shop to investigate. It turns out that the shop is a toy shop and above it are living compartments. Cadogan wants to check that nothing is amiss and ventures upstairs, to his horror he discovers the dead body of a woman lying on the floor. Cadogan tries to attempt a hasty retreat but is struck on the head and is rendered unconscious. When Cadogan wakes up he runs to the Police and narrates the peculiarities of last night. When Cadogan along with the Police arrive at the spot, they find that the shop is not a toy shop but a grocery shop and there is no dead body in the premises. The Police attribute Cadogan's fantastic story to the bump on his head and leave him to his fantasies.

Vexed and Confused Cadogan approaches the Oxford University Don Gervase Fen. Together the two of them get involved in a whirlwind murder mystery adventure.

Review: Edmund Crispin was the pseudonym of Bruce Montgomery who wrote nine crime fiction novels featuring the Oxford Don Gervase Fen, who is the professor of English at the St. Christopher's College(a fictional institute). The Moving Toyshop and other Fen Stories were often influenced by the master himself John Dickson Carr. So did Crispin do justice to Carr and the Impossible Crime Genre?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Hollow aka Murder After Hours by Agatha Christie

Plot Summary

It is a sunny, warm and cheerful day. M. Poirot has been invited over to lunch by the Angkatells at the Hollow, their beautiful abode in the country. The Angkatells are Poirot's neighbors in the country just outside London. Henry and his eccentric wife Lucy Angkatell have also invited their old friends Dr John and his wife Gerda Christow, the Angkatell's are also having over some more of family and old acquaintances staying with them at the Hollow.

Poirot leisurely walks over to the Hollow expecting a scrumptious lunch and good conversion. Alas, what poor Poirot gets is murder! Dr Christow has been shot and his lying on his back, blood is slowly dripping from him into the blue water of the swimming pool, standing over him is his wife Gerda Christow with a gun in hand.

Review: Its been often said that Dame Christie books especially the ones which feature Poirot and written after the second world war are weaker then their antecedents, so is this true for the 1946 piece of detective fiction "The Hollow"?

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Innocence of Father Brown by G.K. Chesterton

G.K. Chesterton was greatly inspired by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes. In 1911 Chesterton created Father Brown, a Catholic Priest who is the complete opposite of Sherlock Holmes. While Holmes used deduction and logic to solve tenebrous cases, the cleric Father Brown used intuitive and sympathetic worldliness to solve mysteries. Father Brown in most stories is accompanied by a master thief turned detective Hercule Flambeau.

The Innocence of Father Brown is a collection of short stories which were published in 1911. There are 12 stories of whose capsule reviews and plot summary you can see below.

The Blue Cross - The famous master criminal Flambeau is in London and he is being tracked down by Valentin himself, the head of the Paris Police and the most famous investigator of the world. Valentin who is searching for Flambeau all over London notices some very queer incidents involving two priests and decides to follow them. These bizzare incidents might be the work of a lunatic or of a brilliant, eccentric amateur sleuth.
We get introduced to Father Brown and also to Flambeau. Father Brown in his own stories is self effacing, he is of the Miss Marple category of detectives and not Poirot or Sir Henry Merrivale. A nice introduction to Father Brown stories.

Friday, June 8, 2012

The Sign of Four by Arthur Conan Doyle

Sherlock Holmes is given a tricky little problem. Mary Morstan is getting pearls in her mail every year for six years. she does not know who sends it or why they send it. Miss Morstan has now received a letter which urges her to meet with the sender that night. The anonymous sender permits her to bring two friends as long as they are not police. now take a guess who those two friends might be? Holmes and Watson travel with the Mary Morstan to meet the sender.

The sender is Mr Sholto whose father Major Sholto had mysteriously come to acquire a treasure and that Mary Morstan's father had an equal share to that treasure. So, Mary whose father had passed away should be bequeathed with half of the treasure. The only problem is that the Major Sholto had hidden the treasure in his Norwood home and his sudden demise left Mr Sholto and his twin brother perturbed as they did not know the location of the treasure.

After searching for 6 years they have finally found it. Now Mr Sholto wants to take Mary Morstan with her to his father's Norwood home where they will divide the treasure. So, the four of them Mary Morstan, Mr Sholto, Homles and Watson start off to get the treasure but instead they get a murder.


A Classic of the genre or a horrible racist mistake by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle?

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Vintage Mystery Challenge 2012 completed

I have completed the Vintage Mystery Challenge. I was supposed to read 8 books all written by male authors and written before 1960. The challenge was a lot of fun and led me to discover some wonderful new authors like Saradindu Bandophadhay and Rex Stout, the challenge also gave me the chance to read books from my favorite author John Dickson Carr, as you can see from the list below the most recurring name below would be John Dickson Carr/Carter Dickson.

The challenge was hosted by Bev @ my readers block.

"Cherchez le homme"

1. Some Buried Caesar by Rex Stout

2. The Case of the constant suicides by John Dickson Carr

3. The Case of the Crooked Candle by Erle Stanley Gardner

4. Picture Imperfect and other Byomkesh Bakshi Mysteries by Saradindu Bandyopadhyay

5. The Peacock Feather Murders by Carter Dickson

6. Till Death Do Us Part by John Dickson Carr

7. The Curse of the Bronze Lamp aka Lord of the Sorcerers by Carter Dickson

8. Trial and Error by Anthony Berkeley

Saturday, June 2, 2012

The White Priory Murders by Carter Dickson

Plot:Sir Henry Merrivale’s favorite sex siren, Marcia Tait has been murdered. She is found bludgeoned to death in a room called the Queen’s mirror, which was the 17th Century trysting place for King Charles II. Queen’s mirror is surrounded by a frozen lake if anyone steps on it then the ice would crack and that person would die a freezing death. Entry and exit to the room is restricted by only a pavilion, which is covered by snow.

Now, what is baffling the police is that there is only one set of footprints which leads towards the room. So, how did the murderer managed to escape without leaving another set of footprints?
And like in all murder mysteries there is another murder and that too of the most likely suspect.
HM and the newly promoted Chief Inspector Master’s investigate the White Priory Murders.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

3 in 1 Miss Marple

I read three Marples recently while I was out on vacation, so please see below a 3 in 1 post about the same.

Books read:

  1. 4:50 from Paddington
  2. The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side
  3. A Caribbean Mystery

4:50 from Paddington or What Mrs McGillicuddy Saw : Written by Agatha Christie and Published in 1957. 4:50 from Paddington tells the tale of  Mrs McGillicuddy who is travelling in a train to see her friend Jane Marple. On her way she sees a woman being murdered in a crossing parallel train. The Problem is that she could not identify either the murderer or the victim and the police are unable to locate the dead woman's body on the train. The Police think of this incident as hallucinations of an old women and curb any further inquiries. Mrs McGillicuddy  narrates this incident to Miss Marple, who hatches up a scheme to nab the killer.

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Problem of the Green Capsule aka The Black Spectacles by John Dickson Carr

 Plot: A mad man/woman poisons chocolates in a tobacco shop in the quaint village of Sodbury cross, which leaves a child dead and few others terribly sick. Marcus Chesney's niece is suspected of the crime but Chesney does not agree with these suspicions.

Marcus Chesney is a man with many idiosyncrasies. One of which is, he believes that eye witnesses are unreliable. Marcus postulates that people are poor observers and can seldom narrate simple incidents reliably. He wants to prove this to his family and friends, who often disagree with him.

To prove his theory he sets up an elaborate charade where he sets up everything as series of traps to confuse and vex the audience. During his Pantomime, an insect like man wearing dark glasses enters the stage and makes Marcus swallow a green pill. The audience think that this part of a preconceived plan. The only problem is that Marcus ends up dead after a few minutes and the person who was supposed to play the part of the Phantom or the man who looked like a "giant insect" is also found critically injured.

Chesney's theory becomes fact. There are witnesses but all have conflicting stories to tell and even the camera which caught the whole thing seems unreliable. Dr Fell is called in to solve the problem of the green capsule.

Review: Children getting poisoned, really? is this something that you would want to read. I mean this isn't something that happens only in fiction. Crimes against children are very common and in a recent TV program called "Satyamev Jayate" perhaps the eyes of a whole nation of hypocrites were opened. But we are not here to talk about real crimes we are here to talk about fiction. 

Friday, May 11, 2012

A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

  Plot: Dr. Watson has returned to London from a brutal war in Afghanistan, broke and convalescing from his injuries, Watson needs a place to stay. Soon, Watson meets the eccentric and brilliant Sherlock Holmes with whom he will share his residence at Baker Street. Dr Watson finds out the Holmes is a consulting detective and is a polymath whose skills in deduction are unmatched.

Police Detectives are frequent visitors to the Baker Street resident, where they seek Holmes advise on unusual and tenebrous crimes. On one such faithful day, Holmes gets a letter from the Police about a most perplexing murder. A man was found dead in an abounded house without an injury on his body but there are marks of blood in the room and "RACH" is written in blood on the wall.

Lestrade and Gregson want Holmes to help them in the case where the next victim of the murderer is the Prime suspect.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Trial and Error by Anthony Berkeley

Plot: Shy and reclusive Lawrence Todhunter is suffering a fatal heart disease and before he departs he wants to do a final good deed for his fellow man. Todhunter arranges a meeting of  his close acquaintances and coaxes them in a academic discussion of what should be done by a person who wants the world to be a better place. To his utmost surprise the unanimous verdict is to commit murder! removing a vile and unscrupulous person would mean helping multiple people whose lives are troubled by this ignoble individual. 

Todhunter takes up the advise and then searches for his victim. His search ends with Miss Norwood, a film actress who seduces men by the dozens and leaves them in destitution once she has ruined their lives. Todhunter commits a meticulously planned murder and shoots the "unlady" like Miss Norwood. Todhunter after committing this great act of valor and bravery goes off on a trip to Japan. but en route he receives news that a married man Palmer who was involved with Miss Norwood has been arrested for her murder.

Todhunter is appalled at this grave injustice and returns immediately to inform the authorities that they have arrested the wrong man and it is actually him they want, but the police think of Todhunter as dangerous as a box of kittens and dismiss him as a lunatic. Todhunter's desperate attempts to get Palmer exonerated end up in vain as he is found guilty and is to be executed for killing the famous actress.

Todhunter enlists a detective and a famous barrister to help him in prosecuting himself.

Review: The plot sounds fantastic, a man plagued by a fatal disease wants to do charity by committing murder. but his plan goes haywire when someone else is convicted for his crime and now he has to prove his own guilt which is not going to be easy. Is the fantastic sounding plot as good as Berkeley's brlliant novel The Poisoned Chocolate Case?

Friday, April 27, 2012

Death Comes as the End by Agatha Christie

Plot: Imhotep is a Ka-priest in Ancient Egypt. A man with immense power and wealth who is both hated and loved by his family. Imhotep who is a widower is smitten by the beauty of Nofret and takes her as his concubine. Nofret is the immediate target for the hate of Imphotep's family.

Norfet thanks to her vituperative tongue makes too many enemies in Imhotep's house and when the Ka-priest is away for business Norfet is found dead at the foot of a cliff. Imhotep's family somehow convinces Imhotep that Norfet died in an unfortunate accident. But there is another unfortunate accident when Imphoteps' eldest daughter in law is found dead at the same spot.  Then what follows, is a series of horrible murders.

One by One Imphotep's family is getting murdered, but by whom? The evil spirit of Norfet seeking revenge or someone more insidious

Review: Death Comes as the End came highly recommended, and I have always enjoyed recommendations of other mystery lovers. So how did this recommendation turn out?

After you have read a few Christie novels you can identify Christie "Formulas".

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Menagerie And Other Byomkesh Bakshi Mysteries by Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay

A few weeks ago I did the review of Picture Imperfect and other Byomkesh Bakshi Mysteries by Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay as part of the Global Reading challenge 2012. This led to the discovery of a good Indian author with nice and easy to read mysteries. I had of course heard of the Byomkesh Bakshi TV series which aired on Doordarshan back in the 90's, but never had the privilege of watching the exploits of  Byomkesh on TV.

The Menagerie and Other Byomkesh Bakshi Mysteries are set in Post Independence Bengal as opposed to Picture Imperfect and other Byomkesh Bakshi Mysteries which was set in Pre Independence Bengal. I'm going to do capsule reviews of the 4 stories from The Menagerie like I did for Picture Imperfect. So, did Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay did better then his last outing? or our famous Bengali detective got lost in translation?

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Curse of the Bronze Lamp aka Lord of the Sorcerers by Carter Dickson

It is said that a Curse will fall on those who disturb the undead of Egypt.

Lady Helen and her Father Lord Severn excavate a tomb in Egypt, very soon one of their party dies from a Scorpion Bite. Then Lord Severn falls ill and induces his daughter to go back to London.

Among other things found out of their excavations in Egypt there is a  Bronze Lamp. Lady Helen now intends to take this lamp back to England and place it on the mantelpiece of her bedroom to prove that the curse is a farce. On her way a Seer declares that anyone who takes the bronze lamp outside Egypt will be blown to dust.

Lady Helen reaches London and then with a couple of friends proceeds to Severn Hall where she has planned to dispel the myth of the curse. On reaching Severn Hall, Lady Helen jumps out of the car, turns the knob of the door and goes inside.
After a brief moment her two friends follow her inside and see no one in the hall except two old and faithful servants approaching them. The Butler eager to meet his mistress enquirers about her, but he is told that she has already entered. then where did she go? she could not have gone outside as all the windows were watched by gardeners, she could not have gone upstairs as there was a plumber working there. A search of the whole house is ordered immediately but it is in vain, apparently Lady Helen has vanished, she opened the door went inside but was then blown to dust just as the Seer predicted.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie (a graphic novel)

Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie (a graphic novel)

Old Colonel Protheroe was by no means a popular man. He was hated by more people the Osama Bin Laden. even his young and beautiful wife wanted him dead and thought the world would be a better place without him.

One day the colonel is found shot dead through the head in the Vicar's study. Miss Marple solves her first case.


This is going to be a short review because I read this one as a Graphic novel and the it turned out to be 47 pages. So how did the portrayal of Miss Marple in a graphic novel go?

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Best Hercule Poirot books

   As promised in my post of the Best Agatha Christie books. I have finally come up with a list of Hercule Poirot's top 5 books. But for those of you who have been living on Pluto and don't know who Poirot is. He is a fictional   detective who was created by Agatha Christie and debuted in 1920 in The Mysterious Affair at Styles. Poirot is perhaps the most famous fictional detective after Dr Watson's best friend. He has appeared in books, radio, cartoons, comic books, movies, Television and even in Video games.

Poirot started his career with Belgian police and ended it with an obituary in the NY Times. Poirot's use of the "little grey cells" is legendary among Classic mystery buffs. I was first introduced to the Belgian detective who is often mistaken as French in the movie "Death on the Nile" which was brilliantly portrayed by Peter Ustinov.

Friday, March 30, 2012

The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie

Arthur Hastings who is convalescing from his injuries that he has incurred during the great war, is invited by an old friend to stay with him at Styles, Essex. Styles is ruled by the old but kind Mrs Inglethorp who has recently married a young guile man called  Alfred Inglethorp. Soon Hastings discovers that Styles is filled with Conjugal and financial problems.

One fateful night Mrs Inglethorp is taken seriously ill, her body goes through violent convulsions and she dies. later, a doctor confirms that the old woman had been poisoned through strychnine. Hastings suggests to the remaining family members to call in a detective. A detective who is an old friend of Hasting and would investigate the matter discreetly, A detective who is a Belgian, A detective whose green eyes light up when he has an idea and is living in the village because wherever he goes murder follows. can you take a guess who?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Way Through the Woods by Colin Dexter

She was called the Swedish Maiden by the officers investigating her disappearance. She was a young, attractive Swedish Girl who went missing twelve months ago near Wytham Woods in Oxford, England. Now, the case has got a renewed interest with the appearance of Cryptic verses which someone has sent to the Police. The Police take the help of the general public in cracking the puzzle. The Police get an overwhelming response from the public who give them different solutions to the puzzle.

Meanwhile Inspector Morse is summoned from his holiday to take over the case which has seen no success in the last one year. Morse and his faithful Sargent Lewis hit gold immediately. They discover human remains in the Woods. Trouble is that the remains are of a male and the elusive Swedish Maiden is still at large. Morse and Lewis investigate a case of Sex, Lies and Photographs.


By far the most viewed post on my blog has been Last Bus to Woodstock by Colin Dexter, and since I gave it 3 stars out of 5, I decided to give Inspector Morse another try. So how did the supposedly best book in the series fare?

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The Menagerie And Other Byomkesh Bakshi Mysteries by Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay

A few weeks ago I did the review of  Picture Imperfect and other Byomkesh Bakshi Mysteries by Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay  as part of the Glob...