Thriller

Birds of Prey by Archana Sarat

Birds of Prey by Archana Sarat

Review by Shwetha H S

Genre: Crime Thriller, Mystery, Fiction
Imprint: Readomania
ISBN: 9789385854200

Birds of Prey is a debut novel of Archana Sarat, a chartered accountant turned writer. She is also a poetess. Her works have appeared in various magazines and anthologies.

Anton Pinto is a police officer turned tour guide in Goa. His colleague and friend, Rajesh, comes seeking his help in a case of disappearing men. Anton, who had quit his risky job for the sake of his wife and daughter, because he almost died in his last case, reluctantly agrees to help his friend and goes to Mumbai where the new case is filed. All three men, who have disappeared so far, have gone missing in the same way by following an old limping lady. Who the lady is? Nobody knows. When the dead bodies of these three men turn up in a forest area in a sack, case intensifies. At the same time another man goes missing in the same way. Anton goes looking for a common link between all these men. That’s when he comes across Swarna whose peculiar behaviour arouses his curiosity. But is Swarna the culprit or someone else? Why are men missing in the same way? What is the common link between all these men? Will Anton succeed in stopping more men from going missing? You have to read Birds of Prey by Archana Sarat to get your answers.

Apart from few editorial mistakes, Birds of Prey is an outstanding crime thriller by an Indian author. Archana Sarat couldn’t have gotten any better debut than this. The narration is superb. Superb is an understatement. Archana’s vivid narration incites such emotions that sometimes you feel nauseated and sometimes high on adrenaline. I had to go to work, so took about three days to finish this book. But my boyfriend couldn’t resist finishing the book, so took a day off and finished reading Birds of Prey in a day. This book is a definite recommendation. Don’t forget to read it as soon as possible.

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And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

Review by Chandrika

Agatha Christie is well known for her thrillers and detective works, and this one from her is the top selling mystery novel ever. A very interesting part of the story is that the plot is based on a children rhyme “10 little soldier boys”. The rhyme is contained in the novel before the story begins, and narrates how one by one everyone dies, for different reasons, and how less and less remained alive, and then finally, there were none (and thus the title).

The story is about how 13 people are lured for a holiday cum part time job for a short time to a remote island which is about a mile off coast, and how one by one they end up losing their lives in a very mysterious way. When the killings start, the remaining ones will break their head and do everything they can to figure out what’s going on. With no one to trust, since they were unknown to each other, all of them are scared and anxious of what happens next and who dies next. As the days go by, leaving them less and less in number, it makes the reader also to put some detective thoughts and think who is behind all these murders.

The story grips your attention throughout the book and it’s definitely worth a read if you are looking for a book to stick on to for a few days, because you would not want to keep it down. The only not-so-perfect thing I felt about this novel is that the mystery is revealed at the end in about just 3 pages. For all the 330+ pages of ‘what happens next’ and ‘who’s behind this’, you might not like the fact that the suspense is revealed in just few paragraphs and you will be left disappointed that it ended so soon. Anyway, I don’t even think there is any better way to do it, for that’s the way the story is woven.

Loose Strings by Dr. Dale A Grove

Loose Strings by Dr. Dale A Grove

Review by Shwetha H S

What would have happened if many of our eminent scientists had not died or deviated from their scientific aims in their lives? Humanity would have technologically developed, but not sure for good or bad. In another universe, a world called Regnus is highly developed, so developed that its citizens are at the dead end of any kind of technological development because they have exhausted themselves in every possibility. To stay as the most developed world of theirs as well as neighbouring universes, the History Security Officers are assigned the tasks of distracting scientists of different worlds and hindering them from reaching their goals. On one such mission, Regnus’ History Security Officer Rakena meets Dr. Wolfe Sterling, who is trying to save science on Earth. What happens to the history science on Earth? Does Rakena succeed in altering Earth’s scientific history? Will Dr. Wolfe Sterling resist the alien beauty’s ventures?

Loose Strings has a good storyline with multiple time travelling and travelling between universes, complex ideas of physics which you don’t need to understand in depth to enjoy the story. Since all the characters are humans and similar to humans, the reader doesn’t have to think about the complexities of the alien anatomy. But the problem is there are so many characters; even the supporting characters have their own supporting characters and storylines. The story is fast paced, but there are times when there are abrupt shifts from one scene to another, or a character doing something which wasn’t actually necessary or called for. But the only point that becomes difficult to accept is the element of God in the Sci-Fi novel. It almost becomes like preaching Christianity to the readers with the help of aliens. Dr. Dale A Grove lets the readers down when he starts talking about God.

Except for the God part, the novel must be for its unique time travel and multiverse travel story. Sci-Fi lovers will enjoy this if they ignore the sudden inclusion of the Almighty.

The Time Machine by H G Wells

The Time Machine by H G Wells

Review by Shwetha H S

To see the downfall of the entity for whose prosper you and the generations before yours have toiled is like losing faith in your purpose. No matter what you do, things will eventually turn out the way they are meant to be. Even if you go back and forth in time using a time machine, what is going to happen, will happen. The way H G Wells makes you understand this concept is worthier than the whole concept of time travel this story of The Time Machine is based on.

Through The Time Machine, H G Wells paints a grim picture of how mankind digs its own grave, one inch at a time. When the protagonist, the time traveller, travels far into future i.e. 802,701 A.D to find a sickeningly beautiful and frighteningly suffocating Earth inhabited by humans who are unlike us. Why? For one, humans have branched into two sub-species; one Eloi who are beautiful, delicate and petite midgets, and other Morlocks who are no lesser than beasts. Evolution has taken the good out of all the attempts of this age humans to make an organized society. Rich have evolved into Eloi who are good for nothing and poor have evolved into dreaded Morlocks. So, how does this dystopian world, which is far removed from the futuristic world that we hope and are working towards, function? What happens to this time traveller who chances upon this era?

The images that H G Wells has managed to paint through his words are quite moving, but not disturbing in these times of internet when we have almost new catastrophes to see day in and day out. But, back in the days when The Time Machine was written and published, to provide a glimpse into a possible future without a crystal ball must have been amazing. This was done without any loopholes in the narration. Lucky was H G Wells for having born in those times when new concepts were sprouting and desired. And lucky was that time which could witness the rising of sci-fi, most of which has come true by now. The Time Machine by H G Wells is a classic sci-fi that should not be missed.

Chaos Company by Christopher Slayton

Chaos Company by Christopher Slayton

Reveiw by Cezan Koby

It took me more than a few attempts to read the book.  Right from the explosive start to…. In fact I don’t think the senseless killings makes any sense. Liam King is a sonofb@#$ and I hated his character from the beginning and I wished the bugger did die on the operating slab.  Routinely burning a hole in someone else chest for fun is deprived and bordering on psychotic serial killer on a cocktail of crack, meth, speed and toilet cleaner  yet the higher up’s executive decision to give him permanent lasting geno-human powers makes me want to smack their head, couple of times and then some more.  The chaos company dwindles as it fights on the good side. Desmond the leader is one of least charismatic  character. All the blood & gore was too much for me.  There is hardly a pause in the killings, and any resemblance of a storyline is overshadowed by a adolescent lust for murder, mayhem and hallucination. I gave up after my sixth attempt to complete the book.

The Crows of Agra by Sharath Komarraju

The Crows of Agra by Sharath Komarraju

Review by Shwetha H S

It is enough to have the Mughals to lure you to read The Crows of Agra by Sharath Komarraju. On top of this, it is a murder mystery that involves Birbal, back when he was still Mahesh Das. Of course there are other less heard of characters like Ruqaiya Begum, Shamsuddin Khan a.k.a Atgah Khan, Gulbadan Begum and Salima Sultan Begum, along with the characters made famous by the movie Jodha-Akbar like Jalaluddin Akbar himself, Bairam Khan, Adham Khan and Maham Anga, sans Jodha. This is a refreshing take on Akbar-Birbal duo. The author succeeds in staying away from the depictions that have been present in the minds of Indians since the times of Mughal-e-Azam and Jodha-Akbar movies, and also paints different ideas about how they actually were. Kudos to the author for this feat. Of course, there is that disclaimer from the author that the descriptions in the book may not be anywhere near the actual situations. So, it would be better if you keep aside your history knowledge to enjoy this fine narration of a murder, no, two murders in the imperial palace of the Mughals. To help you imagine the scenes, the author also provides you with a map. Go on, read it and have fun. This story keeps you at the edge of your seat. Remember, refrain from combining this story with historical facts.

The Recipient by Dean Mayes

Review by Cezan Koby

The recipient makes for an interesting read, making the reader wonder- what sort of story will enfold? Will it turn into a tragedy, thriller or paranormal as the protagonist skips her sleep and nightmares. Whose memories are the dreams made of; Casey’s or someone else’s? The Recipient starts off on a clipped pace, flirting with memory transference, cyber security, organ harvesting and suspense. Yet, at 400+ pages long, it does not succeed in weaving a web strong enough to fend off questions. Why did relationship with Edie turn so sour? What was her role in the entire scheme of things? What about the alter ego – Octogon, rudely used and thrown?  I wish there were additional 50 pages so that all loose ends and vital questions are answered instead of being rushed and hastily tied up with a bow.

The Pillar Invisible by Hari Parameshwar

The Pillar Invisible by Hari Parameshwar

Review by Shwetha H S

Everybody has a past. Whatever it might be, nobody can judge your past to be good or bad, except you. What you learn from it and how you use it to make your future will define your being. Guilt is not something a third person can make you feel. It is the awakening of your conscience by your own deeds. The Pillar Invisible by Hari Parameshwar is a story of three accomplished men whose conscience takes them on a journey of setting their lives for the betterment of the society.

Satyaki Satyanath, a corporate honcho. Rajaseshu Narasimhaiah, an industrialist and a king-maker. Thomas Chandy Ambadan, a successful businessman. They all encounter death in unexpected ways. Their experiences in the face of death bring them close to a mysterious entity that guides them and brings them together. The story is spiritualistic as well as thrilling. The author has managed to blend the goodness of philosophy and spirituality, and has served to you by garnishing it with a hint of mythology. It is not a fun read; can become heavy on your mind due to the theme of the book. Nonetheless, a very good concept to make today’s rat race participants understand what is important in life.

Barking Madness by Ryan Hill

Barking Madness by Ryan Hill

Review by Vijaya Raghava

Barking madness is quintessentially a young adult story that has romance, lust, jealousy, vengeance, werewolves, murder, thrill and its share of flaws.

The story is told from the point of view of its two main characters – Rose and Mike. Rose moves to a small town and is among the “hottest” girls in her school. Everyone in the school fantasizes about her. Mike also has a crush on her but is too shy to speak to girls. Within no time Rose meets a handsome hunk and falls in love with him. They go out partying and on one night they are attacked by a Werewolf. The hunk is killed while Rose, though bitten by the wolf, escapes death as Mike saves her just in time. Over the next few months a string of people close to Rose are killed. Further, the dead start speaking to Rose and haunt her. She is further haunted by a masked man whom she has never met. With each death, Rose slips deeper into a depression. Mike gets a few chances to get close to Rose and tries to help her with her issues even while dealing with his own problems. Do these deaths have anything to do with Rose and the Werewolf? Or are they just a figment of her imagination. Or is there something more to all this madness?

Most of the characters in the story are teenagers and you can relate to them. That said, you can’t help but think that a bit more effort could have been put into developing the lead characters as most of the story revolves around them. You find Rose sobbing through most part of the story and after a while you start wondering if she deserves to be the lead character. Most things fall in place for her because she is “hot”. There are not many dimensions to Mike’s character as well. The support characters seem convincing and they come and go as and when the plot requires.

The plot gathers pace slowly and explodes with gore with the first few murders and keeps the reader intrigued for a while. However, the middle chapters seem like a bit of a drag with too many repetitive events and offer very little in terms of freshness to the plot. The tempo picks up towards the climax and there is a new twist to the plot. The author tries to mix up things a bit towards the end but the end result seems a bit underwhelming and leaves many questions unanswered even if you factor in the revelations at the end.

I definitely feel that the book is a bit lenghty and can be condensed a bit. I wouldn’t mind recommending the book in its condensed form.

Assault in Forgotten Alley by David Y.B. Kaufmann

Review by Sandeep

Assault in Forgotten Alley – Happens to be an investigation into the assault on a young boy in a Jewish Alley. Main people involved in the investigation include James McCallum, the detective and his friend, Rabbi Drew Aldala. Alongside the investigation of the assault, the author provides a lot of insight into the personal lives of James McCallum and Drew Aldala. The author introduces many characters each of whom could have a motive to carry out the assault on the young boy, which in turn deepens the mystery and the motive behind the attack, thus keeping the reader guessing till the end.
Throughout the book I was guessing whether it could be a racially motivated attack or whether its got something to do with jealousy or if its a drug deal which has gone wrong or something else. The cause of assault turns out to be a brilliant surprise, very well thought of and researched by the author.
I enjoyed reading this book, but its not one of those books which hurried upon me to finish. I took time to complete this book, since some of the Jewish traditions mentioned in the book were totally new to me. As a result, I had to refer a dictionary. Also the plot gets diluted as some of the details mentioned do not play a crucial role in the investigation.
Rating 3.5 /5.