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Tips to become a succesful book blogger

No one has become a superstar blogger overnight.Recognition in blogosphere takes time and there are no short cuts for achieving instant success as a blogger.Read like there is no tomorrow and pen down your sincere thoughts in a lucid, organised and unpretentious manner.Your work will definitely get its due.

Blogadda-Quikr Shopping Fiesta: My Experience

It was like a slap on my face.Thankfully Arun was not there with me to witness by embarassement. I was all set to call him when some random piece of paper with a phone number written on it from my pocket caught my attention.

Book Review:Salvation Of a Saint

On the whole,’The Salvation Of Saint’ is a decent thriller.It may not be as racy as ‘The Devotion of Suspect X’,but still it’s a pretty good one.

Interview with Doctor-turned- Writer Deepal Kripal

Earlier this week,we chatted with Doctor-turned-Author,Deepak Kripal.He has authored 'The Devil's Tale:An impossible journey',published by Leadstart Publishers.In this candid interview,he tells us about his debut work,future plans,his journey as a writer and his other interests in life.

Private India: Book Review

On the whole,'Private India' by James Patterson and Ashwin Sanghi is a strictly average work.

March 13, 2019

QBR: The Windfall by Diksha Basu

                                                     
                                                         Satire/Drama
                                                          376+ pages
                                                   Bloomsbury (2017)
                                                       RT Rating: 3.5/5

The Verdict: 'The Windfall' is a humorous take on the life of a typical middle class family from East Delhi.Told in a honest and hilarious manner, 'The Windfall' is definitely a must read!
Synopsis: Mr Anil Jha and family have been leading a middle class life in East Delhi. Mr Jha recently sold his website for a whopping 20 Million US Dollars making the Jha family rich all on a sudden.Since they have succesfully climbed up the social ladder,the family decides to relocate to Gurgaon, the place for the super-rich.How the neo-rich slowly get acclimatized to the new neighbourhood and how they make new friends is all the story is about.Though on the face of it, it looks like Mr Jha and Mr Chopra are in a constant race to out do each other,pretty soon we realize that they do have a lot of things in common.
The Good:The setting is perfect, the jokes are fine and the characterizations (Mrs Ray, Johny, Rupak, Mr Jha) are brutally honest, Diksha's prose manages to be a social commentary and a satirical (Mrs Ray and her stolen Yoga Pants, a perfect case in point) take on middle class ambitions at the same time.
The Bad:The ending was a bit abrupt and ambiguous (may be it is intentional and the author is planning for a sequel?)

RecommendationsBuy it!


March 3, 2019

Book Review: Miss Laila, Armed and Dangerous by Manu Joseph


                              Manu Joseph's award winning 'Serious Men' and it's follow up ,'The Illicit Happiness Of Other People' were books which I enjoyed a lot. So, I was eagerly looking forward to reading his latest work,'Miss Laila....'. Infact I was very pleased when I could finally get hold of 'Miss Laila'  A good couple of hours and a 200 + pages later,I should confess that I have been left with missed feelings.
                    'Miss Laila,Armed and Dangerous' is the kind of book which is very difficult to review. First and foremost, it's almost impossible to consider this book as a pure work of fiction.May be because of his background as a journalist, Manu Joseph has an opinion about almost everything which has happened in our country in the last decade or so(which in my honest opinion ,is a perfectly fine thing!). But when he tries to pack in too much of his opinions into his latest work and try to pass it off as fiction ,without even bothering to change the 'real-life' names of the personalities involved in a jumbled and often confusing narrative, it results in something like 'Miss Laila'.
                    The Plot goes something like this- A building has collapsed somewhere in Mumbai and in the midst of the ruins, there is a man who is mumbling something about a potential terror plot. A social media prankster, Miss Aiyer is one of the first persons to reach the spot and with her help , the IB and the officials soon spring into action and commence their 'mission' to nail the potential terrorist. What happens to their 'secret mission' is what the story is all about. 
                    The story line is quite plain and the book is hardly 200 pages long. The language is  simple and Manu Joseph's trade mark humour and sarcasm are quite in place which tries to make up for the dullness in the plot , to an extend. Aiyer's 'Pranks' are often quite hilarious. Using Aiyer's character, Joseph  has tried to poke fun at almost everyone, be it the media , the so called 'fascists' , 'activists' or the 'neo-liberals'. (Mind you , even the economist Raghuram Ranjan is not spared! The scene involving activist Sathya and his bid for the Nobel Prize is particularly funny! BTW, what was Bill Gates doing in this work?). But the basic problem is , all those funny bits remain as isolated set pieces and they never particularly gel with the story line nor do they add anything to the core plot- they just stick out like isolated, random scenes!
                      As I mentioned in the beginning, it's very difficult to categorize this book as a pure work of fiction. It's mostly like a string of opinion pieces on some of the important incidents which has happened in our country in the last one and a half decades or so. The author has taken the convenient route of masquerading it as a work of fiction. However, some of his observations and one-lines are quite interesting. Sample this- When the elite of a system become the underclass in another system,they search for a moral cause to restore balance of power. This is popularly known as activism
                                    or this- An erection is the same hydraulic event in political economists as it is in jackasses
           or  this- It appears that if only passenger trains were equitable systems, many revolutions would not have occured.

Verdict- On the Whole, Miss Laila is an okay read. But a writer who has given us gems like 'Serious Men' and 'The Illicit Happiness....' is defintely capable of much more!

-nikhimenon

February 27, 2019

QBR: The Mystery of The Three Orchids by Augusto De Angelis

                                       
                                                       Vintage Crime
                                                        186+ pages, 
                                                    Pushkin Vertigo (2016,originally 1936)
                                                       RT Rating: 3.2/5

The Verdict: 'The Mystery of The Three Orchids' is an engaging mystery.It is indeed a proof of the genius of  Augusto De Angelis, the man widely regarded as the father of Italian Crime Fiction.
 
Synopsis: A Murder has happened in one of the fashion houses in Milan. Valerio, the right hand man of Christina, the owner of the Fashion house is found dead in her room.Inspector De Vincenzi is called to investigate the crime.But pretty soon, the bodies start piling up and within a span of 48 hours, there are three murders with Orchids beside these three bodies.Will De Vincenzi be able to solve the crime?
 
The Good: the setting, twists and the climatic reveal. Never did I feel that this work was written almost 80 years ago! 

The Bad:The reader never gets to know much about Inspector De Vincenzi (may be one should read the first books in the series for that!)

RecommendationsBuy it!

-nikhimenon

February 24, 2019

QBR: Don't Let go by Harlan Coben

                                       
                                           Crime/Thriller
                                           386+ pages, 
                                             Arrow (2018)
                                          RT Rating: 3.2/5

The Verdict:'Don't Let Go' is an engaging stand alone thriller from Harlan Coben, one of the most successful crime writers of our times. Definitely worth a read!
 
Synopsis: Nap is a cop who has lost his brother(Leo) and his lover(Diana) after a freak accident 15 years back.The incident forced Maura, Nap's girl-friend to go into a hiding.Now years later, there is a series of killings and Maura has suddenly made an appearance.Nap is convinced that there is some sort of connection between his brother's murder and these recent murders.Will Nap be able to uncover the truth?
 
The Good: As usual, Coben's narrative moves forward at a breakneck speed,there is never a dull moment and the twists happen at regular intervals, the CIA-Military base angle was well done, the 'sleeper-cell' twist was also believably done,the Bolitar cameo was a pleasant surprise. 

The Bad:Nap's characterisation reminded of Myron Bolitar at times,towards the middle portions,the book dragged a bit.

RecommendationsBuy it!

-nikhimenon

February 17, 2019

QBR: BOO- edited by Shinie Antony

                                     
                                        Anthology/Horror Fiction
                                           209+ pages, 
                                     Penguin Random House India (2017)
                                          RT Rating: 2.6/5

The Verdict:'Boo-Horror Stories..' is an okay read at best! Though it is marketed as a horror anthology, most of the stories fail to create a chill down your spine(contrary to what it's tag line promises!).The basic problem with the book is that though the book features writings (translations) by some of the big names in new-age writing (K.R. Meera, Shashi Seshpande to name a few), the essence of their stories seem to have lost in translation!  
 
Synopsis: The stories try to explore the para-normal.A work of Psychological horror is what the book aspires to be ,basically.
 
The Good: The stories which some what stay true to the tag line are 'The Face' by Manabendra Uphadyay , 'The Claws' by Durjoy Datta and 'The Monkeys in the Orchard' by Kanishk Tharoor.

The Bad:horror element missing in most stories, infact the book shouldn't have been marketed as a compilation of horror stories(suspense/psychological short fiction,may be), the ambiguous ending/'literary value'  of some of the stories will not go down well it's target reader group. 

RecommendationsBorrow it!

-nikhimenon

February 10, 2019

QBR: Buffering Love by Issac John



                                         Anthology/Urban Fiction                                                                                                   209+ pages, Penguin Metro Reads (2017)
                                          RT Rating: 3.9/5

The Verdict:'Buffering Love' is an enjoyable work. Most of the stories are quite good with relatable characters. I haven't really liked any of the earlier books which have come out of this imprint (metro reads) but this debut work by Issac John has turned out to be a pleasant surprise!
 
Synopsis
'Buffering Love' is basically a collection of short stories set in Urban India. Some of the stories are inter-connected and works as some sort of follow up to the previous ones. All the stories explore through the escapades of their protagonists on mobile apps .Though Love is also a recurring theme,the book is not an anthology of love stories per se.
 
The Good: relatable characters, interesting twists, unpretentious prose, the stories have a 'Jeffrey Archer' feel to it (IMHO).The pick of the lot- Smart Lass and Daft Watch.

The Bad:some stories had abrupt ending, the 'app' element seemed forced at times

RecommendationsBuy it!

-nikhimenon

January 30, 2019

QBR:The Messenger by Markus Zusak


                                                     
Young Adult/Coming of Age                                                                             470+ pages, Dimensions (2015, originally 2002)
                                      RT Rating: 3.25/5
The Verdict:'I am the Messenger' is already an international best seller and I don't think that my 'verdict' is going to change it's global recognition in any way.I liked the book anyways,though the book is intended as a 'young adult' work,this one is definitely going to put a smile on your face, no matter which age group or which nationality you belong to!
 
Synopsis: Ed Kennedy is a cab driver, who is aimless in life. He is a mediocre card player, a lousy romantic and an irresponsible son.How he finds purpose in life is what this book is all about!
 
The Good: starts off well, there are interesting twists happening at regular intervals,the book has got all the 'ingredients' in the right amount! 

The Bad: the length is a bit too much,towards the middle portions the pace of the narrative slackens a bit,the ending is also a bit ambiguous.

RecommendationsBuy it!

-nikhimenon

January 27, 2019

Book Review: An Unsuitable Boy by Karan Johar

                           An unsuitable boy is the candid memoir of Bollywood's most influential man- the one and only Karan Johar. The book is a must read for all the Bollywood fans out there and is undoubtedly one of the better memoirs to have come out from a B-town celebrity in the recent past.Though I am not a big fan of his movies,have always admired him for his success,for his marketing skills and for his sense of the market ,this book has only elevated my reverence for the master showman, Karan johar.
                       Karan is being brutally honest here. So when he remarks that no matter whatever kind of films he make, he is always remembered as that rich guy who makes films for the rich NRI s, or when he tells zoya akhtar that any comparison with him is no compliment ("you are the new karan johar"),you can't agree with him more. Also when it comes to film critics, he puts it bluntly that he doesn't care about many of them nor their opinions. At the same time he doesn't try to hide the little joy he felt when shubrata gupta of indian express, who doesn't actually like anything with a kjo name attached to it finally liked Bahubali, a film that he had distributed.Likewise when he reminisces that Bharadwaj Rangan, who totally hates the karan brand of films, once approached him to write a forward for his book, the irony is not lost either.
                    Karan  doesn't shy away from making fun of himself either, 'the beggar costume change' issue being a case in point. Also at a time when even the directors-creators of super flop films too don't hesitate to brag about how successful their films are, kjo is sincere when he says that acknowledging a failure is as important as acknowledging a success.He also never hesitates in naming his movies ( productions) which failed big time, while maintaining that that he never holds a failure against its (first time) directors/creators.
                 Johar also touches upon segments from his childhood(of him being obese),his first encounter with Shahrukh Khan, his father's failed production ventures,his not so-rich childhood,sexuality to name a few.
                On the whole, I liked the book, for its straight forwardness and for the unpretentious attitude of kjo.I'm giving it a 3 out of 5.

-nikhimenon

January 13, 2019

Vijay Superum Pournamiyum





A good film should make you laugh, cry and ultimately feel good about yourselves for having spend your time and money on it. Jis Joy's latest urban rom-com (an official adaptation/remake of a popular telugu hit) is one such movie. Go, grab your ticket. It's a pleasant film. I enjoyed watching this one!


-nikhimenon

December 26, 2018

QBR: Bombay Fever by Sidin Vadukut

                                                           
                                                               Bombay Fever by Sidin Vadukut
                                                           RT Rating: 2.75/5
                                                          Medical Thriller
                                   370+ pages, Simon & Schuster India (2017)


The Verdict:'Bombay Fever' is a decent (desi) medical thriller. It describes how an outbreak occurs and how difficult it is to contain one. It has it's moments but the fans of Robin Cook might not find anything new in this work!
 
Synopsis:An Indian Journalist in Switzerland travels all the way back to India with a 'mystery' illness. But little did he know that it was the beginning of an outbreak!

The Good: starts with a bang, the outbreak is described in a dramatic yet 'interesting' manner as far as a lay reader is concerned, the pacing is good, climax is also pretty decent , the 'beta-protocol' and the 'multi-sampler' are innovative concepts.


The Bad: pretty much loses steam after the initial 50-60 pages or so and only picks up towards the climax portions, greater part of the book is basically the same stuff getting repeated again and again- descriptions of numerous people getting infected with the same mutant strain,the lies and speculations about the Indian Navy (the submarine sub-plot) could have been done away with! 

RecommendationsBorrow it!


-nikhimenon

Book Review: THE TANDOOR MURDER by MAXWELL PERIERA



              The 'Tandoor Woman' or the 'Tandoor Murder' was undoubtedly one of the most sensational crimes that took the nation by storm in the mid-1990s. Those of you who were born in the late 80 s or the 90 s would definitely remember the news paper reports which gave the sorrid (and quite often pretty much exaggerated) account of the gruesome murder. As a late 80 s kid myself, one of my vivid memories of the nineties pertains to the infamous and much publicized Naina Sahni ('Tandoor') murder case (the other one being the ISRO- espionage/'spy case' including the Maldivian women and the eminent scientists)

            In Tandoor Murder, Maxwell Periera gives a detailed account of this 'crime of passion' and also reconstructs the entire chain of events of the same. An upcoming politician (Sushil Kumar) from the ruling party has a secret love-life (marital life) ,suspects his lover (wife) of infidelity, murders her in a fit of rage only to realize later that he has no means to dispose off the corpse.The cunning manipulator that he is, decides to burn it off in the Tandoor of the restaurant that he owns, with the help of his aid, Keshav. The plan goes awry due to the inadvertent interference by a smart, diligent police constable (Kunju) and from then starts Sushil Kumar's run for cover.How the investigation team nabs him and brings him to the books is what the book is all about.The investigation and the trial process over the years is painstackingly written with great deal of detail and the reader almost feels that he is in the middle of the investigation process.

          The language is pretty simple and Maxwell Periera hasn't gone overboard with his writing. Though he has touched upon a similar case (the infanous Priyadarshini Mattoo Murder Case) and the double standards of the media in one of the closing chapters, the book more or less focuses solely on the Tandoor Case. The book never becomes a boring read and this work of Non Fiction is undoubtedly one of the better books from India this year. 

Verdict: I'm giving the book a 3.5 out of 5.

-nikhimenon

November 18, 2018

QBR: Half Boyfriend By Judy Balan & Kishore Manohar


                                          Half Boyfriend by Judy Balan and Kishore Manohar
                                                           RT Rating: 2.6/5
                                                 Parody/Humour-Romance
                                           200+ pages, Bloomsbury (2016)

The Verdict:'Half Boyfriend' is a passable parody.It has it's moments but is not as funny as Judy Balan's '2 Fates'.
 
Synopsis:Blogger -turned- author Judy Balan rose to fame with her debut work- 2 Fates: the story of my divorce, which was a parody of Chetan Bhagat's '2 States:the story of my marriage'. 2 Fates was pretty funny and since the source material (2 States) was spoof-worthy, it worked big time! Half Boyfriend is Balan's attempt at parodying another work of Chetan Bhagat (Half Girlfriend).So we have our non-english speaking prince (Manav Jha) stalking the cosmopolitan Rhea Somany in the posh Delhi College.The Book tries to parody almost all the significant scenes from the original source material and tries to weave a story on it's own (more or less the same one ) in the process.

The Good: it starts off promisingly, the first act is quite funny and interesting, liked the idea of putting 'short version' of each chapter at the beginning,the overall mood of the book.


The Bad: After a point, the book gets monotonous, the writing gets dull ,the whole 'obama/London episode' is hardly funny, the jokes fall flat and it seems that the authors were just trying to fill in pages with uninspiring and random stuff.

RecommendationsBorrow it!


-nikhimenon

November 16, 2018

Book Review: The Girl In Room No 105 by Chetan Bhagat

             


              Well, Chetan Bhagats books are like Salman Khan films. They are obviously immune to any kind of reviews or criticism. No matter what you write or think about their works, they will invariably rake in the moola.

              First things first- The girl in Room No 105 (TGIR) is neither a  parody nor a rip off of Ruth Ware's "The Woman in ..."(which was no masterpiece by any stretch of imagination), infact the only similarity between the two works ends with the title. To be very frank, TGIR is far better than Bhagat's last two outings. Though it has all his usual cliches' in place (the loser IIT alumni hero, the ''liberal, super sexy heroine and their chance meeting at the IIT , to name a few ), this one is more of a crime thriller (pretty half baked one at that) with a few genuinely funny conversations thrown in between.

          Our protagonist is Keshav, the loser IIT guy who is now employed with 'Chandan classes', an IIT JEE tuition centre. His best buddy is Saurabh aka Golu who is also his colleague at ''Chandan'.One night, Keshav gets a call from his ex- girl friend inviting him to visit her at her hostel room. Keshav turns up there only to find her murdered.How Keshav along with his Watson (Saurabh) finds the mystery behind her murder is what the book is all about.

        As I mentioned before, TGIR is far better than any of Bhagat's recent works. Chetan has tried his hand in a new genre and has been able to come up with something half decent.The book undoubdtedly is a time pass read with the typical Chetan Bhagat elements in place. But that doesn't mean that it breaks any new grounds as far as the mystery thriller genre is concerned. If Bhagat's earlier protagonists were used to globe trotting for finding his (their) estranged girl friend(s),here Keshav is doing the same for finding her murderer.The suspense is pretty much predictable and the mystery is the 'kindergarten' variety and obviously there isn't much space for sense and logic in Bhagat's universe!

       Coming to the characters, Golu comes aross as a genuinely funny guy and is the sole source of the occassional one-liners in the story.The other characters are Captain Fyaiz and Raghu (Zara's fiance).The writing and language are typical Chetan Bhagat.

Verdict: I'm going with a 2.75 out of 5.The book is a time-pass read for Chetan Bhagat Fans!


-nikhimenon

September 21, 2018

Mini Review: 'Tell No One' By Harlan Coben


'Tell No One' reads more like Sidney Sheldon than Harlan Coban . Elizabeth Beck was murdered a good 8 years ago and her husband Dr David Beck has never been able to get over the gruesome incident which happened almost a decade back.Suddenly,a mysterious e-mail lands up in his e-mail and soon, David realizes that his past is back to haunt him once again. With twists and turns happening at regular intervals,'Tell No One' is an absolute page turner!
The 2006 French Thriller was based on this book.

-nikhimenon

September 20, 2018

Book Review: The Truth About Harry Quebert Affair by Joel Dicker

             
                  The 'Truth about Harry Quebert Affair' by Joel Dicker is undoubtedly one of the most gripping and satisfying books that I have read in the recent past. Though the book is quite lengthy (and often has the pretensions of a literary read) with about 600+ pages, itsn't a drag. Infact, I enjoyed it much more than many of that crime thrillers which went on to become 'international best-sellers'!

                 The book is set in a coastal New Hampshire town ( Somerset). The protagonist, Marcus Goldman, has had a super successful novel and is desperately in need of inspiration for his his next book. He goes to meet his college professor, Harry Quebert,whom he considers as his fatherly figure and also tries to focus on his writing and re-invent himself. But when the body of (the then) fifteen-year-old Nola Kellergan is found 33 years after she went missing and Quebert is accused of her murder, Marcus works to unravel the mystery behind the crime . How Marcus finds out the truth and what happens to his new novel in the due course of the investigation is what this 'big' book is all about.

                Part guru-shishya story, part murder mystery- love triangle, this is the kind of the book that has something in it for everyone. I liked the way Joel Dicker narrated the story with bits about creative writing thrown in between.The setting is quite fresh and there are twists and turns happening at regular intervals. Infact, as I mentioned before, I found find this book more racy and thrilling than any of those books that have come out of the 'pages-turn-by-themselves' Patterson factory.

Verdict: Must Read! I'm giving it a 4 out of 5.

-nikhimenon

September 19, 2018

The Worst Malayalam Films of 2018 (so far)


Okay, this post is a bit too early . 2018 is not over yet and  we are a good couple of months away from 2019. The state had witnessed it's worst floods in it's recent history and film industry was in slumber for almost two months.The success of 'Theevandi' has definitely brought some cheers to the industry and we hope the success of 'Kaayamkulam Kochunni' and Odiyan will give the industry it's much needed impetus. Meanwhile we will look at those super awful films of the year, so far!




10.Kuttanadan Blog (Sethu,Sep 2018)

This Mammootty starrer was Sethu's foray into direction.With a couple of lacklustre films to his credit ever since he turned a solo screen writer, no one expected miracles from this 'Cousins' ,'Achayans' writer. Even a half decent flick would have done the trick for him. But unfortunately with a nauseating moth-eaten script meddled with illegitimate pregnancies and the 90 s style do - gooder Principal character ,Kuttanadan Blog ended up as one of the most boring films of recent times!

9.My Story (Roshni Dinaker,July 2018)

The director would have liked to believe that the controversies surrounding Parvathy was the sole reason behind the film's failure at the box-office. But truth to be told, My story was a pretty dated story told in the most. Agreed, the production values were top notch, the music by Shaan Rahman was soothing and melodious but it couldn't overcome the potholes in the script and it's shoddy execution.The final twist in the tale was straight out of those run-of-the mill candy floss Bollywood films of the 90 s and the movie on the whole reminded me of those boring Suneel Darshan films of the last decade!

8.Rosapoo (Vinu Joseph,Feb)



What was the talented Biju Menon thinking when he signed up for this boring misadventure? Ofcourse, the core idea was interesting and the initial fifteen minutes or so was genuinely entertaining but after that the movie was a snooze fest!The 'motta' song also failed to create the intended buzz around the movie!

7.Parole (Sharrath Sannidh, April)


Another one of those turkeys of the year, Parole was neither entertaining nor classy. May be the director wanted to make a social drama which could go down well with the family crowd, but there were hardly any takers for this pointless old fashioned melo-drama!

6.Panchavarna Thatha (Ramesh Pisarody, April)




Perhaps the only commercially successful movie in this list, Panchavarna thatha too had a basic thread which was interesting. Infact the 'Noone is insignificant' life lesson has been conveyed effectively.But apart from that this thatha had nothing else for the discerning viewer.This Ramesh Pisharody movie failed to provide the ample laughs which it promised! Kunchakko Boban gave an earnest performance overshadowing Jayaram's  hammy act, but the flick fortunately gave him the much needed hit!

5.Mohanlal (Sajid Yahiya, April)



Mohanlal is a classic case of celebrity worshipping being stretched to intolerant levels.This migraine inducing mess of a movie was successful enough in earning more haters for Manju warrier, her over the top 'Meeenooty' being the single most irritating thing about this movie.It's sad that an excellent performer like Indrajith has to get contended with utterly pointless roles/movies like this!

The second part of this post will be published in the last week of December

-nikhimenon

September 17, 2018

Book Review: Coffee House by Lajo Jose


                 
                    Lajo Jose’s Coffee House is a work which aspires to be a new-age crime novel but unfortunately is  heavily influenced by the S.N. Swamy –K Madhu movies of the 90s. (Infact the basic thread itself - of the convicted killer opening up about his innocence a few days before his execution, reminded me of the third film in the CBI series)

                  Benjamin is convicted for multiple homicides and is awaiting execution. A few days before his execution he expresses desire to meet the journalist (Esther) who has been instrumental in his conviction and wants to convince the world of his innocence. Esther who works with a leading Malayalam Magazine, 'Kuleena' (modelled on 'Vanitha' and the Malayala Manorama group) half- heartedly accepts the invite and decides to 're-investigate' the case. How she manages to solve the puzzle and clear Benjamin's name of the murder/murders is what 'CH' is all about.Also aiding her in her journey are Peter Achan ,Sub Inspector Chris and Aparna, the scribe's colleague and best-friend.

                First things first.This debut novel is undoubtedly a quick and easy read (no long, boring prose or pretentious metaphors thrown in just for the sake of it).Even an occassional/newbie reader can finish it off in a couple of hours. Quality work of crime fiction is a rare thing as far as new age Malayalam writing is concerned and hats off to Lijo for trying to revive a long lost genre! As mentioned before, the writing is straight forward, the language used being simple and easy to comprehend even for the lay reader. Lajo also makes some interesting remarks about Kottayam town and pretty much succeeds in making this central Kerala town also a part of the narrative. 

              However the book is not devoid of flaws either. For an ambitious new-age crime thriller, Coffee House is tad too slow and the identity of the true killer is predictable quite early on. A lot of time (and 'pages') are spent on the pointless (and often cringe worthy) banter between Esther and her close buddy Aparna. Believe me, Aparna's ('Amma package') is definitely one of the most annoying characters I have come across (read) in recent times.  

              The characters are too shallow and none of them have been well etched out. There is a passing mention about Benjamin’s family but the author hasn’t really bothered to elaborate on his back story. As a result, the reader never gets to empathise for him. The same lack of detail is evident in the case of Esther’s characterization. Okay, we get to know that she has a liking for a pretty upmarket café in kottayam town (Tonico Café), but apart from that, what does she like actually? And what about her family? The less said about the shaky characterization of Chris (the cop), the better-  the guy seems to be in a very bad mood when we are first introduced to him (and seems to be only interested in settling scores with his bête noire , Esther )  but pretty soon , he is seeing hobnobbing with her and helping with the investigation!- His transformation and change of heart (remember the scribe had caused great humiliation to him in the past with even a molestation case filed against him!) pretty unconvincing and whatever meek justification rendered to it too weak and hard to swallow!

             Also, the romantic track between Benjamin and Jinu has not been worked out well. As a result, like one of the characters himself states at one instance in the book, Benjamin only comes across as a typical stalker for the average reader.

            To give due credit to Lajo, I liked the character of ‘Solly Jacob’ and how her character and her magazine were modeled on 'Vanitha' , but again it’s a shame that she has very little (and quite insignificant) presence in the narrative and in this 220 + page long crime novel.

Towards the end, the author seems to be in a hurry to wrap up the proceedings and before we realize, the climax is up leaving behind room for a possible sequel (and even for a new series featuring Esther!)

So the logical issues which I had with this 'thriller' are listed below-
  • If the case was such an open and shut case right from the beginning, what was that made Esther & co wage a prolonged media battle to implicate and arrest Benjamin?
  • Esther could easily crack the mystery behind the multiple homicides within a span of two days, just based on her intuitions, the 'killer's statements  and a few incidental findings which cropped up during her '3-4 day long' investigation but then, why did the initial investigating officers so easily overlook these same facts during the course of their investigation?Noone seemed to have bothered to even cross check the veracity of the true ‘killer’s initial statements to the police!(they could have atleast verified 'the cell-phone range' thing!)

Looks like the author is keen on making this into the series and also having a film adaptation for this work (as  indicated in the closing chapter) but I genuinely wish he enhances the original source material at hand and make it more taut and racy by adding some more meat into the (future) feature film script.

Verdict: On the whole, Lajo jose’s Coffee House is a decent start for a first time author, but doesn’t qualify as a truly engaging mystery thriller. I sincerely hope that his follow up to this debut work will be much better. I’m giving it a 2.5 out of 5.

-nikhimenon

September 2, 2018

QBR: I Found You by Lisa Jewell


       I Found You by Lisa Jewell

RT Rating: 3.8/5

Mystery/Crime Thriller

      450+ pages, Arrow (2016)
The Verdict:'I Found You' is a gripping thriller which is totally worth your time and money.
 
Synopsis:Twenty Year Old Lily is searching for her missing husband.Forty something Alice,mother of three has a starnger living in her house.Teenager Kirsty has a new boy friend.What is the 'link' between these seemingly unrelated women who don't even belong to the same generation? 'I found You' is built on this interesting premise.Set in the fictional town of Ridinghouse bay, this Part Romance and part thriller, manages to old your attention for most part.

The Good:The pacing (though the book is 450 odd pages long,you never 'feel' that it's overlong!) is apt, plotting is clever, the setting is brilliantly atmospheric.The 'mystery' mood has been successfully maintained for most part with the 'connection' between the three principal characters turning out really well.

The Bad:Towards the third act and the climax,the book loses steam; the big reveal (about Kirsty's disappearance) could have been better thought out .

RecommendationsBuy it!

-nikhimenon


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