My Half Yearly Round-up

2015 half year

I have been erratic again this year in posting my reviews, though this has been a good year for reading. Half way through the year, I am more or less on track so far for my goodreads reading challenge. Here is a brief roundup of the 28 books I have read so far.

I continued with some of my favourite series. Last year I read few books of Dr. Siri Paiboun series set in Laos and liked them a lot. Colin Cotterill’s writing is warm, full of love for Laos and its simple people and all his characters are remarkable in their own right. Therefore, I went back and read the first book The Coroner’s Lunch. It’s a good whodunit that introduces Dr. Siri, 70 years old reluctant coroner of Laos under the communist rule. The next book – Thirty Three Teeth is also sitting in my TBR list.

I am a fan of Laura Lippman and Deborah Crombie. Both have remarkable protagonists, Tess Monaghan and Scotland Yard husband-wife duo Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James. After reading first few books in both series, I jumped in the middle with Another Thing to Fall and Necessary as Blood. Both books are good with sound plots, though probably not among the best in the series.

I am always game for Martin Walker’s Police chief Bruno series. This series takes readers to the beautiful, serene life of rural France. You would love it just for the mouth watering dishes that Bruno conjures in the little hamlet of St. Denis, not to mention all its well ensemble of supporting cast and good mysteries.

I also finished my two most favourite series – Ian Rankin’s John Rebus and Andrea Camilleri’s Inspector Montalbano. Now I can only wait for a new book to release 😦

I finally started with Manuel Vazquez Montalban’s Pepe Carvalho series with Murder in the Central Committee. Pepe is role model for Camilleri’s Inspector Montalbano and hence I had wanted to read this series for a long time. It is too early for me to comment on Pepe Carvalho but I guess Pepe and Montalbano are going to be very different personalities.

I continued to devour Philip Kerr’s Bernie Gunther books with The One from The Other and If the Dead Rise Not. Bernie is now on the top of my list of fictional characters I would love to hate but just cannot. These books cover a wide arc of time from 1930’s to 1960’s. Philip Kerr’s writing is fun, full of wry humour and Bernie is cynical yet smart and intelligent. Kerr uses events of pre and post World War II. This is a must series for lovers of historical fiction.

New Series I started –

I like to read series set in different countries that give me a feel of the local culture, politics and history along with a good mystery. Thanks to Stop You’re Killing Me, I found some excellent books. Matt Rees’s The Collaborator of Bethlehem is set in Palestine and has a teacher as a reluctant detective. Barbara Nadel’s Arabesk explores rich history of Turkey along with its current political and social dilemma. Inspector Ikeman is an interesting person and I will be reading more of this series for the Istanbul it depicts. The best of the lot was Dan Fesperman’s Lie in The Dark. It evokes the painful memories of Bosnian War. It describes the siege of Sarajevo with all its horror, futility and tells the sorry tale of how religion and history are brutally used by a few to stamp their authority and satisfy their ego. Fall of Yugoslavia is a “How Not To” lesson for a multi-cultural and diverse country like India.

Remarkable books I read so far –

Fadeout – I was dying to lay my hands on Joseph Hansen’s books. Its main character Dave Brandstetter is an Insurance investigator. Hansen’s plots are superb. He has a unique writing style – short, crisp narration that articulates more in one sentence where other authors may need ten.

The Last Policeman – Unique plot, simple yet powerful narration and an adorable and smart protagonist. The world is falling apart as a giant asteroid is going to hit Earth in six month’s time. Yet all that Detective Hank Palace cares is doing his job right. He is relentless in carrying on his investigation. This is a trilogy and next two books have received equally rave reviews, so want to grab them as soon as I can.

Talking To The Dead – Here is a character that you will like in spite of all her quirks. DC Fiona Griffith is an amazing young woman. She has survived Cotard’s syndrome and the illness has given her eccentric traits. She can’t easily acclimatise with people around her but has a strange fondness for the dead. The mystery in this book is really good. Author Harry Bingham has created a first class series and next two books are equally good.

The Martian – Here is a book with the most outlandish plot. An astronaut stranded on Mars! Mark Watney’s journal of survival is fun to read. In spite of being full of technical details, Andy Weir makes it an easy and fast read. Its being made into a Hollywood blockbuster directed by none other than Ridley Scott. Watch the trailer here.

10 Judgements that changed India – This is a thought provoking book by well known lawyer Zia Mody. This book illustrates how supreme court of India has acted as the guardian of Indian constitution. With these 10 cases, author shows how supreme court creatively interpreted constitution at times to safeguard the fundamental rights of citizens of India.

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your time.

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