Monday, December 28, 2015

Halloween Party by Agatha Christie

Image result for halloween party agatha christieAgatha Christie, and her endearing detective, the Belgian, Hercule Poirot is back on my humble little blog. After a hiatus of more than a year, I finally picked up a story featuring perhaps the most entertaining and interesting detective in fiction. There aren't a lot of good Christies left for me to read and I'm slowly going through her bibliography to ensure I don't finish everything too soon. In the spirit of Halloween I picked up and read the Halloween party, even though I'm reviewing it now.

Plot Summary:

An innocent children's Halloween party is being held in a small town near London, during the course of the party a child makes an innocuous remark about witnessing a murder some years back, she did not know at that time that it was murder but now she knows. The child is found murdered after the party ends. Did someone got spooked or did some malignant outsider step in the house and kill her? Ariadne Oliver, prolific mystery novel author and Poirot's friend was also present at the party and she believes that some malevolent person is behind the killing of the child. So, she goes to London to meet Poirot and once again Poirot has to use his little gray cells to solve this most perplexing murder.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Inside the Kingdom by Robert Lacey

Image result for inside the kingdom robert lacey
"Nothing is easier to denounce than the evil doer. Nothing is more difficult than to understand him"
- Fyodor Dostoevsky


Saudi Arabia, elusive, Islamic kingdom known to us as the land of Osama Bin Laden, Mecca and Medina. Saudi Arabia is notorious for its strict laws against women's right and opulent displays of wealth derived from its large reservoirs of oil.

The author, Robert Lacey takes us through a journey to explore Saudi Arabia and get to know it more intimately. Saudi Arabia is a monarchy ruled by the house of Saud; Almost a century ago Ibn Saud captured large swathes of land in the middle east, wresting them from various tribes and fiefdoms. The house of Saud married into rival tribesman to create an oligarchy that has persisted for almost a century now. Ibn Saud, followed by Kings from his family : Saud, Faisal, Khalid, Fahd and then finally Prince Abdullah; have been the reigning monarchs in Saudi Arabia controlling the populace through the Army, their wealth created from Oil and Wahhabism.

Wahhabism is a branch of Sunni Islam, which advocates return to monotheism and it is very puritanical in nature. Saudi monarchy has used Wahhabism as a tool to showcase them selves as good Muslims, pumped billions of dollars to spread Wahhabism and given unmitigated power to their preachers. In return Wahhabis have ensured mutual support and loyalty to the monarchy. The relationship between the Saudi Monarchy and the Wahhabis is reminiscent of the symbiotic relationship between the fascist regime and the Roman Catholic Church, read more about it here:
Pope and Mussolini

"So intimate is the connection between the throne and the altar that the banner of the church has very seldom been seen on the side of the people"
-Edward Gibbon

20th century history has shown that those people who provide fuel to the fire of fundamentalism for political gains, get burned by the same fundamentalists. Whether is the Americans who supported Pakistan, whether it is Pakistanis who supported Jihadis or the Germans who supported the Nazis. Wahhabis came back to bite the hand that fed them.