Saturday, December 7, 2013

He Wouldn't Kill Patience by Carter Dickson

Edward Benton is a worried man, he is the director of the Royal Albert Zoological garden and Hitler's war is coming ever close to the Zoo . Edward lives with his daughter at their home inside the Zoo complex. Edward has become a shell of his former self, he is in perpetual agony concerning the fate of his precious animals.
The government wants to shut down the Zoo and eradicate the animals. Edward wants to save the animals and hopes to have them transported to safety and far away from the horrors of the war.

Enter a couple of warring magicians, who are invited to Edward's home for dinner along with the "Old Man", Henry Merrivale. On reaching the Benton's house they find his daughter missing and the house being conspicuously empty. Soon they discover that Edward Benton's study is locked and then the poor man is found dead inside. People around him start contemplating that since the room was locked from inside and Edward was very stressed he might have committed suicide. There was only one problem "He Wouldn't Kill Patience"

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Demon of Dartmoor by Paul Halter

The Demon of DartmoorAt the turn of the Century in Dartmoor, a Woman was pushed down to her death from the stairs of her aesthetically beautiful home called Trerice Manor, by an Invisible hand. Fifty years later on Wish Tor peak in Dartmoor, a young beautiful woman is plunged from the peak to her death, the locals find playing cards scattered over her dead body. Next year, history repeats itself, another girl dies in the same way, witnesses claim that she was talking to an enigmatic stranger who they could not see, later two lovers reported that the poor girl was pushed in the abyss by an invisible man, again a few playing cards are splattered near the dead body. Same time next year, A third victim is claimed by the invisible man and this time the dead body of the poor girl disappears without leaving a vestige.

Few years later, Nigel Manson, a successful actor comes to Dartmoor with his wife and buys Trerice Manor, now lying in desolation. Nigel is smitten by the house and gets is restored. He invites his impresario, Frank, and his co-actor/mistress, Natalie, to spend the weekend with them. Nigel is sitting on the window ledge, of his splendid house getting photographed by his beautiful mistress who is standing at the ground below. Mrs Manson, Frank and the village doctor are in the same room as Nigel, suddenly Nigel is propelled out of the window and he cracks open his head on impact with the ground, Nigel immediately dies. Witnesses in the room, and Natalie claim that there was no one behind Nigel neither could he have slipped, so how did he fell? Witnesses claim that they felt that he was pushed from the ledge by an invisible man.

Dr Alan Twist, the famous criminologist and Inspector Archibald Hurst are called in to Dartmoor. The moors where legends of hell hounds, murderous invisible men and the red devil do the rounds in the local inn with rounds of beer, where legends and macabre tales are interwoven in the lives of the people. Twist and Hurst have to now lift the veil of superstition and catch the demon of Dartmoor before it strikes again.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Natural Victim by Peter Raynard

Peter Raynard the author of this book, approached me to write a review of his debut novel. I would like to thank Peter for sending over a copy of this modern day murder mystery and wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors and with the success of this book.

Plot Summary:

Dieter Fox, a skinny university student who along with his unnamed friend (who I'm assuming is the author) live together as the modern Holmes and Watson. Dieter is a great fan of detective novels and his home is a library filled with them. Soon there is murder in the University and Dieter gets a chance to play the detective. A friend of  Dieter's, is accused and arrested by the Police, he engages Dieter and pleads with him to do his own investigation and find out who is the real killer and get him off the hook.

Dieter has his task cut out, he now has to find the real killer among half dozen suspects, get his friend out of jail and stop the murderer before the killer can play out his/her machinations.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Naked Sun by Isaac Asimov

"He was an ideal man, almost an abstraction. Who could feel love, or even liking for such a man? A man without weaknesses serves only to make everyone else conscious of his own imperfections " - Detective Bailey in the Naked Sun.

Plainclothesman Bailey, from Earth is called upon by Solaria to investigate a murder on their planet, the first one in hundreds of years. Solaria was colonized by humans centuries ago, along with other outer planets in the galaxy. Earth is now reduced to underground cities, where people live in fear of open spaces and the Sun. Colonists who move to other planets are far superior in terms of military and technology and Earth men live in perpetual fear of these spacers.

Solaria in particular has made superlative advancements in Robotics. The ratio of 1 human to robots in solaria is 1:10,000. There are only 20,000 humans in Solaria who own large and self sufficient estates, with armies of robots to fulfill their every whim and fancy. Over a period of time human interaction has become minimum on Solaria, people seldom view each other and almost never see/meet. They use some advanced 3-D technology to interact with each other without ever meeting in person. On the other hand, Earth is over crowded and human interaction is a necessity, for this reason a detective from Earth would do a much better job of investigating a murder then a Solarian.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

What is the reason behind successful people? Did people like Bill Gates, Bill Joy, Robert Oppenheimer made it solely on their own or was there someone helping them. Gladwell explores with stats what makes the successful successful. Gladwell puts across his ideas backed by facts that success is not the work of a man alone but is the consequence of a number of factors including your heritage, your society and sometimes just sheer luck.

Gladwell argues that success of one man is never because of that man alone, but the combined efforts of his family, society and some times even rioters. Gladwell introduces and analyzes some thought provoking data, For e.g. Why most professional hockey players in Canada are born in the first calender quarter of the year, Gladwell states that the school session starts in January, now when kids are around 4-5 year old the try outs for the hockey team starts, those born in the beginning of the year have a natural advantage of their younger peers, as the extra 8-10 months give them a physical advantage over their younger counterparts.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Rim of the Pit by Hake Talbot

What happens when summoning a spirit goes wrong? Grimaud Desanat got lost in the snow a year ago and now his family, friends and business associates are gathered in a remote cabin in the wilds of Northern New England. They want to summon his spirit to ask for his approval for a business proposition. sounds strange? we are only getting started. Grimaud's Widow who has now remarried is the conjurer. She does a trance in complete darkness, during a snow storm, and Grimaud's ghost pays the group a scary visit. The ghost talks, makes gestures and seemed to be floating in thin air.

Later, Mrs Grimaud or now Mrs Ogden, is found murdered in her room. people in her group saw from outside of the cabin silhouette of an axe wielding murdering her. When they get inside the room the murderer has escaped. There are footprints on the roof but no footprints on the ground below, there are no foot prints for a very long distance and then the same footprints appear in the snow and under such fantastic circumstances the only conclusion  the group could come to is that the spirit of Grimaud took possession of someone from the group and committed murder and turned him/her into a Windigo.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Skeleton in the Clock by Carter Dickson

20 years ago Sir George Fleet was watching the hunt from atop of his terrace in the Fleet house, the crowd in the street below was waving at him, and naturally people watching the hunt in the gables of the dragon rest opposite the fleet house were focusing their telescopes and binoculars on Sir George Fleet, that's when it happened. Witnesses say it felt like somebody pushed the baronet and he plunged to his death, but some telescopes did not move from the terrace and they did not see anyone behind Sir George. The Police dismissed the case as a mere accident.

Present day, Sir Henry has a run in with the Countess of Brayle(a neighbor and close friend of the Fleets) over an unusual clock, a grandfather clock with a 6 ft skeleton in the background, much to the disappointment of the Brayle countess, the old man manages to outwit her and acquire the clock in a bidding war. Sir Henry drops hints that the skeleton in the clock has something to do with the death of Sir George fleet which he also believes was not an accident but murder. Stannard, a middle aged lawyer, and Martin Drake, an army captain are having another kind of dual, the duo make a bet of staying in the execution shed of the abandoned Pentecost prison not very far from the Fleet house. The sinister events that took place 20 years ago are about to repeat itself, and when the Sir Henry will unmask the killer it will be one of the most sinister ones he has had to encounter.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Emperor's Snuff Box by John Dickson Carr

Beautiful Eve Neill has fought a bitter divorce battle with her ex husband Ned Atwood, Eve is now free and living in a villa in France. Ned, the insolent, handsome devil is out of her life. She can now focus her attention on Toby Lawes, Toby is the stiff shirt son of Sir Maurice Lawes who with his family live in the villa opposite to Eve's. Senior Lawes has an interest in collecting precious antique objects, and maintains them in a room on the first floor.

All is going well, Toby has proposed marriage to Eve and Toby's family i.e. his father, mother, sister and Uncle have started accepting her as part of the family. Nobody is interested in Eve's past, and she is slowly recovering from the shadows of Ned Atwood.

But Alas, word has reached Ned that her ex plans to remarry.  Ned, who still has a spare key to Eve's villa trespasses and confronts his ex wife in the middle of the night. Eve is dumbstruck, just when her life was getting back on track, her husband has come back to derail it.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Parker Pyne Investigates by Agatha Christie

Are you unhappy? then contact Parker Pyne. This is what the advertisement reads in the Times and if you believe Christie people actually do contact Pyne, Pyne deals especially with matters of the heart. Unfaithful wife/husband, boredom, murder, Pyne will relinquish your worries and make you happy again. The book comprises of a series of short stories in which Pyne deals with his client's troubles, for which the portly fellow charges a fee. Parker employs a writer, a seductress and a lounge lizard among other staff. Pyne who worked in the records department is now retired and runs his detective agency.

Parker Pyne also travels the world and like his more famous counterpart "Hercule Poirot" gets involved in one case after another, although the former is much more mundane then the colorful Poirot. There are a total of 12 stories in this anthology  but I'm not going to review all the 12 stories and do more of a generic review. One reason behind doing this is that all the stories are quite alike and have nothing so special as to warrant a review for each.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Sparkling Cyanide by Agatha Christie

New job has forced me to cut back on my reading, but I have managed to finish Sparkling Cyanide from the Queen of Crime. Hopefully as I settle in and things start normalizing I will catch up on my reading and get a few more books read and reviewed.

Rosemary died a year ago, but her memory still lingers not just in the hearts of the ones who loved her but even in those who hated and wanted to forget her. At the Inquest a verdict of Suicide by consuming poison was returned, but Rosemary's widower, George Barton, has now got his hands on certain innuendos that suggest that the poor girl might not have committed suicide but that someone had put cyanide in her Champagne. When looked at things superficially who would want to murder Rosemary? A harmless wife or the heiress, the seductress or a cheating wife. She was a lot of things to a lot of people but only one present on that fateful birthday party of the departed, poisoned her. Now, George with help from Colonel Race wants to solve this murder by Sparkling Cyanide!

Monday, January 7, 2013

The Fourth Door by Paul Halter

Henry has had the gift since he was a child. He could perform spectacular magic tricks and bedazzle his audience with his skills as an acrobat and a conjurer. Henry lived with his father and mother, in a little village outside Oxford. Tragedy struck and Henry's mother was killed in an accident. Henry's father, Arthur, turned to a medium for solace.

The medium called Alice Latimer lives with her husband in a haunted house close to Henry's. One day Arthur is badly attacked, and left to die. His son goes missing and is blamed for the attempt on his father's life. Henry's best friend and the Latimers claim to see him at the same time at two different railway stations, but how can one man be at two places at the same time, is someone mistaken or another clever trick by Henry.

A few years later Alice Latimer, wants to do a seance and drive out the malevolent spirit from the haunted house, her husband, Patrick Latimer, offers to lock himself up in the haunted room and face the wrath of the enigmatic spirit. In front of witnesses the room is locked and sealed from outside, there is no way to either get in or out, a classic locked room, and where there is a locked room, murder can't be far behind. Poor Patrick is found murdered, but on careful scrutiny it is determined that the murdered man is not really Patrick. As more and more mysteries keep piling, the dead bodies also start piling up.

Paul Halter has been crowned the king of locked room mysteries and a successor to John Dickosn Carr, but does such an opulent title really suit him and his work?

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