Friday, January 27, 2017

Review: The Hog's Back Mystery by Freeman Wills Crofts

The Hog's Back Mystery The Hog's Back Mystery by Freeman Wills Crofts
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This review contains SPOILERS. So please do not read it unless you have read the book as this gives away the murderer.

Opening Lines: “Ursula! I am glad to see you!” Julia Earle moved forward to the carriage door to greet the tall, well-dressed woman who stepped down on the platform of the tiny station of Ash in Surrey.

Series: Inspector French #10
First Published: 1933
Pages: 223

Other Books read of the same author: Sir John Macgill's Last Journey

Has it ever happened to you that a line coming somewhere at the end has destroyed the entire book for you or at least lessened to a great extent your enjoyment of it? To me, this happens quite often. This mystery too which was proceeding pretty finely, despite all the plodding, suddenly lost its charm because of this line:

Alice had always hated her brother, and had kept house for him solely for financial reasons.

Where in the text was this hatred presented???????? The Campions were portrayed as a loving family and Alice, the chatterbox, seemed to be having her way always. In fact, she even dictated terms to her brother who seemed to give way to her good naturedly. Just because he turned out to be the villain of the piece the writer seems at pains to show that Alice was so innocent that she merely kept the house for him for financial reason. Excuse me, but what is presented of Alice is hardly true of this. She is too spirited to merely yoke herself to a situation she dislikes only for financial reasons. And what about the other sister???? The writer makes no mention of her. Nor of Marjorie for that matter.

A good mystery that left a bad-taste in my mouth only because of this statement that rings absolutely false. However, I give it three stars for a good mystery that had me guessing though I did suspect the doctor although not his accomplice.

And with this, I light the first candle for my bhuaji.


Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Review: Vegetable Duck

Vegetable Duck Vegetable Duck by John Rhode
My rating: 3 of 5 stars


First Line: At a quarter to nine in the evening of Thursday, August 31st, Mr. Charles Fransham walked hastily up to the entrance of G Block, Mundesley Mansions, Battersea, and went in.

Series: Dr. Priestly # 40
First Published: 1944
Source: Open Library

Can't understand how a person who could come up with such an ingenious murder plan as well as that trick with the letter could slip so badly? Come on, no disguise when interacting (profusely, no less) with others who might very well be called as witnesses.

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Saturday, January 21, 2017

Review: An Old-Fashioned Mystery

An Old-Fashioned Mystery An Old-Fashioned Mystery by Runa Fairleigh
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A post-modern look at the genre of mystery. I was getting mighty tired of it, till I read the last part, and that quite redeemed the entire book for me.

First Line: "'This chutney tastes a bit off to me,' the major said.

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Review: Shares in Murder

Shares in Murder Shares in Murder by Judah Waten
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An impressive police procedural with a twist in the end. The police men investigating the murder of a woman, the reporters covering the case, the criminals associated with the case, all want to have their pound of flesh from the murder. Realistic and gritty.

First Line: The telephone rang before dawn and woke Inspector Stewart Brummel from an enjoyable dream.

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Sunday, January 15, 2017

A Baker's Dozen: Unknown Authors 2017

I purchased a number of books from the World Book Fair at Delhi. Predictably, a majority of them were crime/ mysteries. Some of the authors and books, I had heard about but never read but there were quite a few totally unfamiliar to me. Have you read these books or authors? What do you think of them?


Previous A Baker's Dozen.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Changes in the new year...

A new year has dawned and it is time for some changes, starting with the look. And from now on, I'll only be posting about those books on this blog that I really want to talk about. For the rest of my reading, it is going to be a couple of lines on goodreads.

Here's wishing you all a very Happy Lohri.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

First Read of 2017: Biography of Bhagat Singh by M.M. Juneja

My last read of 2016 was the Complete Tribunal Proceedings of the Lahore Conspiracy Case that had revolutionary Sukhdev's remarks in the margins. I am glad that the first book that I read in 2017 is about Sukhdev's closest friend: Bhagat Singh.

M.M. Juneja's biography of India's most famous martyr doesn't add much to all that has been written about Bhagat Singh down the ages but has one or two interesting chapters like Bhagat's love for books (he was never without one) or the reminiscences by his compatriots who remembered him as a fun-loving youngster.


Publication Details: Hissar: Modern Publishers, 2008
Pages: 208
Source: JNUL [954.035092 J953 Bi]

Reading Challenge: Birth Year 2017

One of the challenges that I am excited to have back is the Birth Year Reading Challenge in which we celebrate the birthyear of either ourselves or a loved one by reading the books published in that particular year.

This time round, I am honouring my absolutely wonderful bhuaji (paternal aunt) who recently celebrated her 84th b'day.  So 1933, it is. And some of the books that I might read (not pledging myself to them though):

1. Down and Out in London and Paris by George Orwell.
2. Hag's Nook by J.D. Carr
3. Flush: A Biography by Virginia Woolf
4. Lost Horizons by James Hilton
5. The Hog's Back Mystery by Freeman Wills Crofts

But then I might not read any of the above :) and just read In Quest of the Ashes by my-favourite-cricketer-of-all-time- Douglas Jardine.

 If you too want to celebrate a loved one's birthday, you can light the candles on the cake over here @Hotchpot Cafe.

And yes, everybody  gets a return-gift too.  Our hostess, J.G., is very-very generous.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Reading Challenge: Full House

Excited to join the Full House challenge, once again this year. Here's what our gracious hostess Kathryn @ Book Date has to say about the challenge: "Complete the card below.  You can do it in any order you wish.  You are allowed "one free exchange", if there is something on the square you really dislike you may change it to something of your choice. Once you have played this free choice that is it. Mention the exchange in the final summary post."

 This is going to be tough for me as I have hardly ever read a Western nor do I have any idea about a 2017 release. But hey that's what a challenge is all about, right?

Reading Challenge: Back to the Classics

Signing-Up for the 2017 edition of the Back to the Classics challenge, hosted @ Books and Chocolate.

I'll try to read books in as many categories as possible:

1.  A 19th century classic - any book published between 1800 and 1899.

2.  A 20th century classic - any book published between 1900 and 1967. Just like last year, all books MUST have been published at least 50 years ago to qualify. The only exception is books written at least 50 years ago, but published later, such as posthumous publications.

3.  A classic by a woman author.

4.  A classic in translation.  Any book originally written published in a language other than your native language. Feel free to read the book in your language or the original language. (You can also read books in translation for any of the other categories).

5.  A classic published before 1800. Plays and epic poems are acceptable in this category.

6.  A romance classic. I'm pretty flexible here about the definition of romance. It can have a happy ending or a sad ending, as long as there is a strong romantic element to the plot.

7.  A Gothic or horror classic. For a good definition of what makes a book Gothic, and an excellent list of possible reads, please see this list on Goodreads.

8.  A classic with a number in the title. Examples include A Tale of Two Cities, Three Men in a Boat, The Nine Tailors, Henry V, Fahrenheit 451, etc. An actual number is required -- for example, Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None would not qualify, but The Seven Dials Mystery would.

9.  A classic about an animal or which includes the name of an animal in the title.  It can be an actual animal or a metaphor, or just the name in the title. Examples include To Kill a Mockingbird, Of Mice and Men, The Metamorphosis, White Fang, etc. If the animal is not obvious, please clarify it in your post.

10. A classic set in a place you'd like to visit. It can be real or imaginary: The Wizard of Oz, Down and Out in Paris and London, Death on the Nile, etc.

11. An award-winning classic. It could be the Newbery award, the Prix Goncourt, the Pulitzer Prize, the James Tait Award, etc. Any award, just mention in your blog post what award your choice received.

12. A Russian classic. 2017 will be the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, so read a classic by any Russian author. 

Reading Challenge: PoC 2017

Glad to join once again one of my favourite challenges: PoC (Person of Color) challenge which involves reading a book about or by a person of color.

I am aiming for the 2nd stack which means I'll be reading 7-12 books for this challenge. Hosted by Sistahs & Satire, you can find the details over here

Reading Challenge: Library Love 2017

These last couple of years, I have missed a challenge involving the library, so am happy to note that now there is a challenge that encourages us to read books borrowed from libraries: Library Love Challenge co- hosted @ Bea's Book Nook and Angel's Guilty Pleasures.

Signing up for the Thrifty Reader level which means I'll be reading at least 24 borrowed books for this challenge.

Reading Challenge: European Reading 2017

Signing up once again for the European Reading Challenge @ Rose City Reader which encourages us to read books by European authors or set in the various countries of Europe.

Signing up for the Five Star level which means I'll be reading books by five different European authors or set in five different European countries.

Reading Challenge: Cloak and Dagger 2017

This year, I am once again signing-up for the Cloak and Dagger Challenge 2017 hosted by Stormi and Barb.

As the title implies, the challenge involves the reading of mysteries/ thrillers/ suspense/ crime, and I am signing up for the Amateur Sleuth level which means I'll be reading 5-15 books in the genres mentioned earlier. 

Reading Challenge: British Books 2017

As in the previous years, I am signing-up once again for the British Books Challenge, which means I'll be reading at least 12 books by British authors, this year.

Hosted @ Tales of Yesterday, this year, you can get all the details over here.

Reading Challenges: Vintage Mystery, Mt. TBR, Follow the Clues, and Read it again, Sam

Well, 2017 is underway and it is time to sign up for new challenges. Bev @ My Reader's Block has again offered us a bouquet of challenges. I am signing-up for the following:


According to Bev, "Your mission, should you choose to accept it, will be to find as many objects on the scavenger hunt list as possible on the covers of the mystery books you read. Once again,  you may play along in either the Golden or Silver Mystery Eras (or, for the more adventurous, both). See check lists below:

My goal is to find 12 objects from the Golden Age list.



For the last two years, I have failed to conquer even the smallest peak but this year I hope to read at least 12 books from my own shelves and conquer Pike's Peak.



A brand new offering. Here's how the challenge has been described: "To follow a set of clues furnished by the mystery books you read to create a body of evidence to support a book court case. Each book clue should lead you to your next read. The connection can be anything at all from author names to motive for murder to type of mystery (police procedural, espionage, romantic thriller, etc) to an item on the cover, but you must be able to make your case to the jury on your detective logic. I would prefer that you not read eight books from the same author and use the author/series character/etc. as the clue link, however. "

I am signing-up for the 'Infraction' level which means I'll be reading 6 books in a single chain of evidence.



A challenge that encourages us to reread. I am signing up for the Deja Vu level which means that I'll be (re)reading at least four books for the challenge.


If you too want to join these challenges, click on their titles.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Challenge Complete: The Vintage Cover Scavenger Hunt 2016

Successfully finished the Vintage Cover Scavenger Hunt 2016 hosted @ My Reader's Block. Read 14 Golden Age Mysteries for the challenge.

1. A Town Scene: Murders in Praed Street by John Rhode

2. Hand Holding WeaponMystery at Greycombe Farm by John Rhode

Avoiding the original cover as that contains a spoiler

3. Clock/ Timepiece: Haunted Lady by Mary Roberts Rinehart

4. Skull: Death of My Aunt by C.H.B. Kitchin

5. Knife: The Great Tontine (Victorian Villainies) by Hawley Smart

The woman, with her ghostly pallor, seems more frightening.

6. Streetlamp (Chandelier/ Candle/ Etc.): Satyanveshi Vyomkesh by Sharadindu Bandopadhya

Thanks to Bev for allowing Streetlamp in this category

7. Just One Person; Death in the Wrong Room by Anthony Gilbert

8. Staircase: Before the Fact by Francis Illes

9.  Two People: Trent's Last Case by E.C. Bentley

10. More than Two People: Epitaph for a Spy by Eric Ambler

11. Library or a Book: The Rome Express by Arthur Griffiths

12. A Brunette: Case for Three Detectives by Leo Bruce

13. Car/Truck: The Shakespeare Murders by A.G. Macdonell

14 Any Other AnimalPonies and Mysteries by Mary Gervaise


Needless to add that I enjoyed the challenge immensely. Will soon be signing up for the 2017 edition.