After a long hiatus..

Age of doubt

It has been a long time since I posted and I was literally itching to put my fingers on keypad for last few days. Even though I did not write, I was quite busy reading some fantastic books over previous 3 months. In this post, I will briefly run through some of them.

I brought myself up to date with John Rebus’s latest outing – Saints of the Shadow Bible. Rebus might be an old warhorse now but he is still kicking with all his gusto and sly wit. This time he is up against his old friends from the police force and the case is a real test of his integrity. I just hope that Ian Rankin has plans for more Rebus adventures.

I am still happily hunting through Andrea Camilleri’s Inspector Montalbano series. I have now read 12 out of 18 books translated in English so far, four of which I read recently. Montalbano’s books have predictable plots with enough masala for a Bollywood film, some of them good and some not so well. However, they are addictive, like chatpata chat items, and therefore irresistible to me.

I have had Scott Turow on my TBR pile for a long time. So finally, I gave a try to his Kindle county legal thrillers and now I wish I should have started with them much earlier. I read two books Personal Injuries and Pleading Guilty, both of them top notch. Turow has a knack of creating solid characters and his story lines are complex, bringing out good and bad out of all of them. His protagonists normally walk on the darker side, yet he makes you like them in spite of all their transgression. I will be reading more of his books soon.

Colin Cotterill has me hooked to Jimm Juree. It was inevitable therefore; that I start with his other much-acclaimed Dr. Siri Paiboun series. It has an interesting protagonist, 70-year-old Dr. Paiboun who is the reluctant coroner of Laos under communist rule in mid 70s. His team consists of his deadly yet affectionate wife, his friend Civilai, ward assistant Mr. Geung, nurse Dtui, and her police husband Phosy. Together they carry out many adventures across Laos. I have read 4 books so far and they are remarkable for their commentary on Laos’s tryst with communism and politics of the time. Cottterill writes with incredible wit and the books are fast paced and fun to read.

Jonathan Holt’s Carnivia Trilogy sheds light on horrors of Bosnian war. First book of the series, The Abomination revolves around a dark plot of NATO and US army to aid the warring factions that were responsible for horrible crime against women. Mostly set in Venice it is dark yet intriguing read.

A.X. Ahmad’s The Caretaker came as a delightful surprise. It tells story of former soldier Ranjit Singh who is now an immigrant in USA trying to make a living as a caretaker looking after homes of rich and powerful. Ranjit is running away from his army days that ended in a dishonourable discharge. His calm life is shattered when he is involved in a mystery surrounding the dark dealings of a US senator, Pursued and hunted, he has to use his commando training to save his family from a certain deportation.

I started with Philip Kerr’s Bernie Gunther series set during Second World War. This is a special series and I am vying for more. Gunther is a man of scruples, which in itself is an achievement in war torn Germany of Nazis. Gunther is a former cop who is sent to Smolensk in the fall of 1943 to unearth the evidence of massacre of Polish soldiers by Russians. With his sardonic wit, Gunther exposes the hypocrisy of Nazis who were responsible for equally grotesque killing of Jews in nearby Vitebsk. Kerr seamlessly weaves his plots around major events of the War and uses flawed Bernie as a voice of justice and reason in a thoroughly corrupted world of the Nazi era.

North Korea is such an enigma that when I read about James Church’s Inspector O series, I immediately caught hold of the first book I could find. Bamboo and Blood is a fascinating read, albeit a bit slow sometimes. However, James Church has a lyrical style and it more than made up for the slow pace and the round about ways the book travels. But this is North Korea where events always turn in unfathomable fashion and you are never sure who is watching who. Inspector O is a man of few words but he lays bare the suffocating and duplicitous nature of the regime effectively. More intriguing is the fact that James Church is a pseudonym and the author is a former spy with vast espionage experience in East Asia.

My rating for some of the books mentioned above is as follows –

  1. Saints of the Shadow Bible – 4.5/5 (John Rebus always has been my favourite among all detectives)
  2. Inspector Montalbano series – 4/5
  3. Scott Turow’s Kindle county series – 4/5 ( Compelling read, will definitely be reading more)
  4. The Abomination – 3.5/5
  5. A Man without Breath – Bernie Gunther series – 4.5/5 (Fantastic series and a welcome addition to my TBR)
  6. The Caretaker – 4/5 ( Interesting first book by A.X. Ahmad)
  7. Bamboo and blood – 4/5
  8. Dr. Siri Paiboun series – 4/5

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your time.

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