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?

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