Friday, October 26, 2012

Forgotten Book: Twelve Red Herrings by Jeffrey Archer

Jeffrey Archer's Kane and Abel was perhaps the first popular adult novel that I read. And boy was it a revelation. I loved the story of the two dogmatic men and thought Archer was simply great. That view came crashing down with the next book that I read of his: A Matter of Honour. I thought he was being dishonest with his readers in that. Over the years I have read many books of his though never the one which was recommended heartily earlier on: Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less. [I remember my cousin Rahul (hardly a book reader) being really impressed by it].

Twelve Red Herrings, a collection of 12 stories, is a mixed-bag. The first one, Trial and Error, where a man is framed for murder, is boring and predictable.However, the second one - Cheap at Half the Price, where a trophy-wife wants to buy a necklace as an insurance for the future, is delightful. Other interesting stories are Shoeshine Boy, where Lord Mountbatten comes calling; Never Stop on the Motorway, where a woman is relentlessly pursued by another driver on a motorway; Do Not Pass Go, where a former minister in Saddam Hussein's cabinet, now living in the US, is forced to land in Iraq; and An Eye for an Eye, in which the defending lawyer is convinced that his client did in fact murder her husband.

The last story, One Man' s Meat has four endings. The reader is asked to choose whichever ending s/he likes the best.

The book is a good time-pass but hardly memorable.


First Line: It's hard to know exactly where to begin.

Title: Twelve Red Herrings

Author: Jeffrey Archer

Publication Details: NY: Harper Collins, 1995

First Published: 1994

Pages: 366

Other Books read of the same author: Kane and Abel; Shall We Tell the President?; A Matter of Honour; A Twist in the Tale; Sons of Fortune; Paths of Glory; False Impression


This book is easily available. I was gifted this book by my sister Nitu di, last year.


Submitted for the following challenges: A-Z (Titles), British Books, Color-Coded, Free Reads, Mount TBR, Mystery and Suspense, Smooth Criminals, Unread Book


Entry for Friday's Forgotten Books. And a late entry for the letter T in the Crime Fiction Alphabet meme.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Overlooked Film: Butterfly On a Wheel

Todd Mason at his blog, Sweet Freedom, has an interesting weekly feature: Forgotten or Overlooked Films#. This week, I too have taken the plunge and posted a review of a movie that I saw a couple of years ago. Head over to Todd's blog and see the other posts.

Neil Randall(Gerald Butler) is really living it up. He has a loving and caring wife, a lovely daughter, and a high-profile job. In fact, he has just been given a promotion which pleases some of his colleagues, like Judy, but not some of the others. Their displeasure makes no difference to Neil because he feels that he deserves all the riches of his life.

However, life changes in a moment when a stranger Tom (Pierce Brosnan) informs him that he has kidnapped his daughter Sophie, and now Neil and his wife, Abby (Maria Bello) have to do whatever he demands of them. And his demands are peculiar. He asks them to withdraw all their money from the bank and once they have done so, he burns all the dollar bills and throws away their wallets. Then he takes them to a strange part of the town and asks them to get him $300, which Neil and Abbey arrange by selling of some of their possessions. Then he asks them to deliver a courier addressed to Neil's superior which contains some dirty secrets which would make Neil lose his job.

At his mercy, the Randalls do whatever he asks them to. They also come to know that he has Sophie kept in a hotel room. They try to rescue their daughter but fail to do so and Tom in order to punish them for this transgression asks Abby to strip. Even as her anguished husband watches, Tom licks Abby's shoulders.

Then he takes them to a house, puts a gun in Neil's hand and asks him to kill the person in the house. The person turns out to be Judy, Neil's colleague from the office. How far can a man go to save his loved ones? Will Neil kill an innocent woman to save his daughter? Will Sophie be rescued?What exactly is Tom's motive? Why has he woven this web round the Randalls? The shattering climax leaves one astounded.

Directed by Mike Barker, this movie was released in 2007. Good performances by the cast and a gripping plot make it worth a watch.


# Todd has informed me that the meme is called "Tuesday's Overlooked Films and/or Other A/V".

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Forgotten Book: V is for (The) Vision by Dean R. Koontz

He went out closing the door behind him, leaving her alone with Max.

Mary Bergen is a psychic who helps the police track down and capture serial-killers, at times right at the moment they are about to murder somebody. However, lately there has been a change in Mary's life. For long, it was her brother Alan who was her trusted lieutenant and companion but now Mary has married Max Bergen, a man with a habit of getting into fist-fights. With Max managing Mary's affairs, Alan feels left-out, also he harbours a suspicion that Max has married Mary merely for her money. As the tension between the two men simmers, Mary starts getting nightmarish visions which leave her in a physically weakened state. Could these visions have any relation with the sexual abuse that Mary suffered in her childhood and has suppressed ever since?

The problem with The Vision is that very early on, I realized what was going on and the identity of the killer. The false clues and red-herrings presented thereafter simply put my teeth on edge. But then I have never been fond of Koontz.



Title: The Vision

Author: Dean R. Koontz

Publication Details: London: Star Book, 1977

Pages: 270

Other Books read of the same author: Strangers


The book can be purchased on the Net. It had been lying on my shelves since 1991.


Submitted for the following challenges: A-Z (Titles), AZRC, Mount TBR, Mystery and Suspense, TBR Pile, Unread Book.

Entry for letter V in the Crime Fiction Alphabet meme.


Entry for Friday's Forgotten Books.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Forgotten Book: Sparkling Cyanide by Agatha Christie

Can any book by Agatha Christie be considered as a forgotten book? This week at Patti Abbot's blog, the focus is on finding a forgotten book by an author who outsells almost all other writers and whose books are still in print while her contemporaries (some of them absolutely brilliant) languish in obscurity. Quite a challenge.

I came to Agatha Christie after my tryst with Enid Blyton, Hardy Boys, and Three Investigators. And then for a long time, it was only Christie and Perry Mason. Today, I am going to post about a book that I found marvellous when I first read it years ago, whose story I still remember, but which I do not find discussed too often: Sparkling Cyanide, a novel first published in 1945.

 The wiki entry tells me that it was published as Remembered Death in the US.

Seven people sit down to have a dinner at a restaurant. However, one of them breathes her last at the table. Rosemary Baton is thought to have committed suicide as she was depressed after a long bout of flu. Months after her death, her husband George Barton [fifteen years her senior and whom she had married because he was nice and funny and sweet and thought of her as wonderful] starts receiving anonymous letters stating that Rosemary had not committed suicide but had rather been murdered. Determined to find his wife's killer, he hosts a dinner on her death anniversary in the same restaurant. The five guests of the earlier party too are invited while an actress is supposed to impersonate Rosemary. However, things do not go as per plan as the actress never turns up, and George falls dead from cyanide poisoning as soon as he drinks from his glass of wine.

So, who is it who wanted the Bartons out of his/ her way? The suspects range from Rosemary's sister Iris, to George's devoted secretary Ruth, to the MP Stephan Farraday with whom Rosemary had an affair, to Anthony Browne, a man with a shady past...all of them were present on both the occasions...

This was amongst the first books of Christie that I ever read and remains a favourite till date. I remember liking the characters of George and Ruth. So many years down the line, would I still like them? Sometimes one really feels like re-reading certain books, now if only there was time enough...