Have returned to this Blog after such a long hiatus that I seriously considered shutting it down! During the vacation in May and the move that followed from Bombay to Bangalore via Goa…I have brutally neglected both my Blogs, as I dealt with more immediate matters – sorting, packing, unpacking, house-hunting and most importantly the consequences of uprooting a 5-yr-old from a familiar environment. It’s been tough and we are just beginning to find our feet here in Bangalore. Junior has finally stopped howling about school and has made a tentative transition to travelling by school bus for the first time in his life. Every day is still a fingers-crossed kinda day for moi, but things are inching towards a new routine and hopefully a new normal! Wish me luck People 😀 Lord knows I need it!
As always books are my number one stress-busters and as busy and distracted as I was, they were never far away 🙂 No heavy, serious reading though…I invariably turned to my favorite genre of crime and mysteries and have been comfortably ensconced in that universe these several months. It began with Dorothy L. Sayers, Lord Peter Wimsey series – I enjoyed reading the shenanigans of this suave, aristocrat, who impressed with his deceptively laid back attitude that hid a razor-sharp mind and wit! During this time and until a few days ago, I read almost exclusively on my Kindle…surprising myself more than anyone else! I think it has to do with the fact that if I’m going to read series (which I will) that have more than a dozen books each (which they do!), I really cannot expect to find a place for them all on my bookshelves; and also the discovery of the fact that I can lock my iPad screen into a horizontal orientation which improves the reading experience for old-fashioned book-lovers like me in leaps and bounds! So I’ve decided that in the absence of a good library (although my new complex has a decent-ish one), I will use the Kindle for all the series I’m currently reading and for future ones that will doubtless follow. Isn’t it strange yet wonderful how inevitably one series of books will lead to another? 🙂
Sayers led me to Chesterton’s Father Brown series and I was lost for a long time in a world where an intrepid man of cloth, went about solving the most astonishing mysteries with ridiculous ease, while also offering spiritual succor to his flock! I found the whole idea of a detective-priest charming and irresistible and also enjoyed Chesterton’s writing style – simple, direct and peppered with philosophical dilemmas and moral debates. After a massive dose of Father Brown, I ventured finally to the only decent-ish bookshop close to home, and there stumbled upon M. C. Beaton‘s Agatha Raisin series. The book was Agatha Raisin and the Curious Curate and with a title like that and the prettily illustrated cover – how could I resist? I enjoyed the book enough to research the series and give it a go, but after reading the first six books at a stretch – I’ve abandoned this series 😦 I just couldn’t take anymore of the main character. Agatha Raisin is a fifty-something woman who is smart, funny, successful and yet such a wimp when it comes to people, relationships and men. That in itself is neither strange nor unbelievable, but when she stays exactly the same book after book, behaving like a teenager emotionally while miraculously demonstrating maturity in solving the mystery at hand – it makes for some very repetitive and tedious reading. It’s almost like the author can’t stand her own creation and is going through the motions of writing 😦 After six books in which Agatha swings like a giant emotional pendulum, to and from the supposed love of her life James (such a flat character), I’d had enough. The mysteries (simplistic to begin with), were taking a definite backseat to the nonsensical love-story and I had no time for either. I did give the author a second chance (hate to dislike books) and read the first in her Hamish MacBeth series, Death of a Gossip and although Hamish appears at first to be an antithesis to Agatha, I soon realized they were very similar in a frightening way – he is hopelessly devoted to a woman who considers him ‘just a friend’! That scared me off and I don’t think I’ll be returning to this series either 😦 There’s just not enough layers to the characters to keep me interested.
No sooner than I had abandoned Beaton, I stumbled onto Safi! On another trip to said bookstore and I noticed a few slim books with gaudy, bollywood-kitsch covers and titles – Poisoned Arrow & Doctor Dread. Intrigued, I found they were part of an extensive series by author Ibne Safi, a part of his ‘Jasusi Dunya’. Written originally Urdu (I am fascinated that the language I’ve almost exclusively associated with spectacular poetry in my mind, has also been used to write mysteries! Juvenile I know 😉 :P), they have now been translated into English and although I’ve read just one, I must say Colonel Faridi and Sergeant Hameed have caught my fancy 🙂 I will be reading more of these. Faridi’s character is true to type – in that he’s an eccentric genius with an eye for detail, uninterested in women, and saddled with the Sergeant who is his exact opposite – sound familiar?! You betcha!
Currently though I’m reading Dongri to Dubai – a treatise of sorts on organized crime in post-Independence India and more specifically the rise of the world’s most wanted man and India’s favorite whipping-boy – Dawood Ibrahim. It’s one of our book club selections for October and not a book I would otherwise have chosen to read. Having said that, the first chapters detailing the rise of key gangsters in India have been quite interesting if rather predictable – as the author quotes in the book, ‘Necessity is the mother of invention and the father of crime!’ The book has already been made into a movie – Shootout at Wadala, but I haven’t seen it and have no intentions of doing so! I will be posting my review here after I finish.
I have read a few books that are not mysteries, most notably Five Quarters of an Orange by Joanne Harris which I enjoyed and hope to post reviews here as I get back into a rhythm of regular posts!
A HUGE THANK YOU to ALL of you that haven’t abandoned ship 🙂 I truly appreciate your patience and support 🙂
Happy Reading People 🙂