Sunday, April 28, 2013

Salvation of a Saint - Blogadda Book Review

Salvation of a Saint is a yet another thriller by the bestseller Japanese author Keigo Higashino. His choice of titles is ‘interesting’. His first novel – Devotion of Suspect X – was unimaginably one of the best thriller novels I have ever come across and hence, expectations from this book were on similar lines.

The cover page is ok. The girl isn’t pretty or anywhere close to ‘angel’-like or the likes of a ‘saint’.
The story revolves around the murder of Yoshitaka Mashiba – a wealthy businessman. While he’s dead and gone, all fingers point at his wife Ayane Mashiba, since she’s got the motive – an unfaithful husband cheating on Ayane with her apprentice Hiromi Wakayama. Not just that, she’s also pregnant. And the whole deal with Yoshitaka was to be with someone who can give him a child – and if his current girlfriend/wife can’t do so, he dumps them and moves on to the ones who can. So well, the motive’s surely strong for Ayane. But the thing is – Ayane was a 1000 miles away at her parents’ place. No conclusive leads to track, no sign of how the murder was committed. All detective Kusanagi, junior detective Utsumi and an old friend/physicist Yukawa (more like a Japanese Sherlock nicknamed Detective Galileo in the book) had was arsenic acid in the coffee that Yoshitaka was drinking and a water filter mystery – plus the fact that Kusanagi couldn’t think straight because he was falling for Ayane. But through continuous investigations and what appeared to be a dead-end case and a perfect crime, the mystery was finally solved.

While the thriller picked up pace from the beginning, it fell flat in between. The investigations, the interrogations, the cross-questionings and all that jazz was a bit far too over-stretched in between. It all just appeared to be running round and round in the loop with similar iterations every now and then. And the climax was a major disappointment. To know that the killer was the same person most of the characters in the book were doubting since the beginning, took away the ‘thrill’ of it all. There wasn’t much fun and I kept losing interest even though it’s an easy and smooth read. The only spark towards the end of the book was to find out that the scheme and the preparations to kill the victim had been plotted a year ago from the day of the actual murder.

Language is simple and gripping. There was a need for some more emotions in the book because it just felt like a bland one. This novel failed to deliver the same or more level of satisfaction that one would derive and expect after reading a Higashino novel. There weren’t any twists and turns to throw the reader off the trail of the killer and confuse them with who the exact killer is until the very end. So overall, it’s an easy read but not really up to the mark. I was really looking forward to reading this book and was excited only to be disappointed in the end.

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Thursday, April 4, 2013

Tantra - Blogadda Book Review

Tantra by Adi – honestly, it could do a little bit better with a different title for a book with stories of supernatural nature, mumbo-jumbos, black magic and the ilk. The story revolves around a female protagonist (imagine Kate Beckinsale from the Underworld series – with 50% of that charisma and raw amateurish attitude in a salwar Kameez and in Delhi!) called Anu Aggrawal who’s a vampire slayer (or guardian as she and her kind are called in the book) in NYC. She relocates herself to Delhi in search of her lover’s killer. During this search, she stumbles upon matters much graver and darker than just the vampires (Yes, vampires in Delhi and India too for that matter!). The book details Anu’s journey through various tribulations and trepidations – from dealing with ‘dekhan-dikhai’ events for arranged marriage (in the midst of trying to save the world!) to uncovering and practicing various mantras to summon weapons of destruction for that ultimate enemy-slaughter combined with the ‘tantra’ or the ‘black magic’ and the spiritual secrets along the way! In this quest, she’s aided by various characters – some of them are her fellow colleagues aka vampire slayers/guardians, the vampire head himself (this had to happen eventually if they were to fight another enemy of a different type altogether), a professor and a real high-level priest. This book, from what I gather is the first in the series, hence some mysteries are left un-deciphered in this book for obvious reasons.

The cover page, quite like the title, could have done better than putting up such a gimmicky graphical representation of the plot – which sadly did not justify the quality of the plot and the plot itself (which is pretty nice). Depicting the protagonist in such a funny manner only made me take her a little less seriously throughout the book because I couldn’t get the damn yellowy-tee-with-black-skirts/pants/stockings?!-girl out from my head (and the yellow and black combi till date reminds me of only cabs in Mumbai)! And with the bulging-eye-trying-really-hard-to-scare evil on the left and the moonish skull on the right with the girl below fail to show any harmony and appear like three separate images placed on a landscape!

The nuances of lives, emotions, practicality, spirituality, black magic and vampires have been illustrated quite well in the book. While the plot is nice too and the quality of introducing twists and turns in the book is interesting too, the publishing house did a really poor job at proofreading the book. There’s ‘scared’ instead of ‘sacred’, ‘cwith’ instead of ‘with’ and many such typos time and again which really take away from the pleasure of reading the book smoothly.

There are a few things that are difficult to imagine – like a Kate Beckinsale type vampire slayer in Delhi in a salwar Kameez! Honestly? What’s the logic in her wearing a salwar kameez when she’s from NYC and could be much better off and accustomed to western wear like denims and tees? Wouldn’t that have been more comfortable in getting on with the day-to-day action instead of jumping around and fighting in a salwar kameez?! The entire action-heroine image dissolves in the sweetness of the salwar kameez! Well, let’s hope Adi might change her attire to something more 'relatable' in the following sequels.

Overall, it was a nice book and the story is some-what gripping too, I liked the subtle but powerful climax which was visually appealing as well (if one would imagine). I hope the sequels don’t really indianise the essence of this book and the plot since the book, in parts, reminded me of the way Ashwin Sanghi’s Chanakya’s Chant was (interesting and engrossing) – rich in history but sophisticated in story.

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!