The Sandman – Lars Kepler – Book Review

Goodreads blurb
: He’s Sweden’s most prolific serial killer.

Jurek Walter is serving a life sentence. Kept in solitary confinement, he is still considered extremely dangerous by psychiatric staff.

He’ll lull you into a sense of calm.

Mikael knows him as “The Sandman”. Seven years ago, he was taken from his bed along with his sister. They are both presumed dead.

He has one target left.

When Mikael is discovered on a railway line, close to death, the hunt begins for his sister. To get to the truth, Detective Inspector Joona Linna will need to get closer than ever to the man who stripped him of a family; the man who wants Linna dead.


As the blurb above reads, the storyline of this book deals with the eponymous The Sandman who at the beginning of the book is well and safe in jail. But things drastically change for Joona Linna, the National Crime Branch detective who actually put The Sandman in jail seven years ago when one of the supposed victims of The Sandman reappears. What begins then is a cat and mouse game between Joona and The Sandman where Joona soon realizes that there is more than meets the eye.

As is the norm with the other Swedish crime thrillers that I have read, this too is quite a dark, brooding book with extremely dark and gory undertones, both in terms of the storyline itself as well as most of the characters. Almost all the characters strike us as probably just a tad too close to reality and invariably have one or more character trait which will strike fear into the hearts of the readers. The authors (yes, I said authors) of the book have done an admirable job of keeping the pace of the book quite taut despite the book running into all of almost 500 pages.

All through the book, readers will be hung on tenterhooks waiting and wondering if The Sandman will achieve what he has set out to do or will Joona Linna manage to thwart his well laid plans. And what is better is how it all ends up right at the last page of the book as well. While this book will probably not appeal to fans of the American Crime Fiction genre a-la James Patterson, Dean Koontz, etc it will surely be enjoyed by readers who like their stories and suspense to be slowly built up before exploding in a huge ball of fire right at the very end.


A review copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers in return for an honest and unbiased review.

Surpanakha – Hariharan Iyer – Book Review

Surpanakha_cover 1_rev2.indd

Goodreads blurb: Educated, young, no-nonsense bearing, able administrator-these are the equalities that won Sesha the loyalties of the people after three years of rule as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. An allegation that he was the mastermind behind the murder of 73 Kannadigas threatens to bring him down but he is miraculously saved at the 11th hour.

Even before he can relish his victory, Sesha is slapped with the charge of sexually offending a young nurse. This time around, the case is strong and his supporters are uncertain. Worse, his teenage daughter calls him ‘vile’ and walks out of the house. While Mythili, his wife promises her full support, her secretive activities-undertaken with the help of a retired cop-is cause of concern for Sesha.

Will Zarina, the human-rights activist, succeed in bringing him down? What about the insinuations of a celebrity lawyer that he is casteist and anti-minorities? When the young nurse is found dead, the case becomes even more complex. Who is innocent? Who is guilty? And who is the mastermind?


What piqued my interest in this book was the fact that the storyline was based on contemporary politics in South Indian states and Tamil Nadu in particular. The protagonist being the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu and the overarching story being political was something that interested me quite a bit. And believe me when I say this, the author has a firm hold on the subject matter of this book and does more than a fair amount of justice to the same.

One extremely strong point about the book itself is the character development. In his own unhurried, yet crisp manner, the author fleshes out each of the principal characters, their back stories, their motivations and their current state of mind. While this could have potentially reduced the book to a slow, drab affair, surprisingly these character sketches move the plot forward in this book.

One small dampener about this book is its predictability. I don’t know if it was just me or whether other readers also kind of saw the connection between the first and second halves of the book, and somehow predicted how the book would progress from its touch point at the middle.

A relatively larger dampener for me was the sheer abruptness and suddenness with which the book ended. Given all that was happening at that point in time, the proceedings come to a sudden end. And the choice of the main antagonist’s motivations also didn’t quite work for me at all. It was a little too unbelievable and fantastic for me to digest, more so given that the rest of the book is fairly grounded in reality throughout the proceedings.

All of the above being said, this book is a sure shot read for anybody who is interested in contemporary politics and are fans of well thought out and well executed books.


This review has been written for the b00kr3vi3w tours Book Tour for this book. However, the views expressed above are completely honest and unbiased.



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The Great Zoo of China – Matthew Reilly – Book Review


Goodreads blurb: It is a secret the Chinese government has been keeping for forty years.

They have found a species of animal no one believed even existed. It will amaze the world.

Now the Chinese are ready to unveil their astonishing discovery within the greatest zoo ever constructed.

A small group of VIPs and journalists has been brought to the zoo deep within China to see its fabulous creatures for the first time.

Among them is Dr. Cassandra Jane ‘CJ’ Cameron, a writer for National Geographic and an expert on reptiles.

The visitors are assured by their Chinese hosts that they will be struck with wonder at these beasts, that they are perfectly safe, and that nothing can go wrong.

Of course it can’t…


If the above blurb and the cover haven’t already given away what the book deals with, then you readers seriously need to re-read most of the other books written by this author. Here’s the big reveal which happens almost 30 odd pages in the book – the great zoo of China is a zoo which houses dragons.

Now that the big reveal has been put out of the way, let’s get on with the actual review itself. I personally became a big fan of Matthew Reilly right from the first few pages of the first book of his that I read Temple, and true to his reputation the author manages to churn out yet another edge-of-the-seat thriller with this one as well. And in fact, in an interview right at the end of this book as well, the author goes on to state that this was his objective when writing the book, and I would say that he succeeds on that count.

That being said, there is only so much of action that one can take, especially when it is so mindless and numbing and all pervasive. There are only so many things that readers can digest all at once, and with The Great Zoo of China I would go far enough to say that the author has pushed his and the readers’ imagination just a tad too far, probably even over the edge. While I personally suspend my disbelief when reading such fantastic novels, the fact remains that there are limits to this suspension as well, and this book probably reached them.

Imagine this, Jurassic Park meets Smaug, the dragon from The Hobbit series of movies. Actually make that 200 odd Smaugs, only meaner and more destructive in their nature. Put them in a constrained space for a while, make them smart enough to plan an escape and put a few innocent people in their way. This in a nutshell is what the book is all about. If you liked Jurassic Park, the movie, then you will like this book. Trust me, when you visualize all that is happening in this book, visual references from the movie will help you more than just a little bit.

Would I recommend this book? Yes, but only if you are a fan of Michael Crichton and the genre of books he dealt with. Even hardcore fans of Matthew Reilly have not been too kind with their reviews of this particular book of his.

Donoor’s Curse – Sharath Komarraju – Book Review


Goodreads blurb: Devdutt Pathak likes to be left alone. Alone with his whiskey. Alone with his memories. Memories of a pregnant woman and her child dying on his operating table. Memories of his practicing license being revoked. Memories of being suspended. Ostracized.

Until the death of his godfather, Jahangir Khan, shakes him out of his stupor.

The world says that it’s an accident, but something deep within calls out to Dev. Aided by the clues Jahangir leaves him, he sets out to unravel the truth. What was Baba after? What did he want? How did he live? And how did he die? Most of all, what did he have to do with this tiny mist-covered village called Donoor, where dark shapes lurk behind every shadow?

Donoor. The village of twins. The village of mysterious deaths. The village of curses. The village which, like Dev, wants to be left alone.

In his quest for answers, Dev must face faceless demons. Some of them leap at him from within the thickening fog. Some reside in the recesses of his mind. Some whisper to him frailly, in forgotten voices, from the long dead past. But they all watch him. He must look them in the eye. And not flinch.

A thriller that will surprise and delight you at every turn.


Very few books have the ability to capture your attention right from the first page, the first paragraph and ensure that you don’t put the book down until you have completed it. For sure, Donoor’s Curse by Sharath Komarraju is one of them. And this from somebody who doesn’t even particularly like the genre it belongs to – paranormal mysteries.

Dev Pathak, as the blurb states, is a broken man. Carrying too much baggage from his past professional life, he is trying to put back his life together again when the death of his godfather jolts him into reality (or something like that). One thing leads to another and pretty soon Dev finds himself in the mysterious village of Donoor. And does the village ‘welcome’ him in style or what.

What happens to Dev in  Donoor, whether the questions regarding his godfather’s accident are answered or not, and whether Dev manages to put his life back on track or not are some of the conundrums the rest of the plot resolves. Suffice to say that the plot itself, the setting Donoor, the characters and their back stories, all of these manage to pull readers into the mysterious mist that always seems to cover the village.

More than anything else, this book is about whether the protagonist manages to fight the demons of his past, how he goes about it while suspending his disbelief of what is happening around him, whether he manages to navigate the mine-field of difficulties and opportunities in his path ahead, and whether things manage to reach a logical conclusion at all. In a nutshell, this book is a lovely read to an already wonderful portfolio of books authored by Sharath Komarraju.

Click here to purchase the book from Amazon (e-book only) [Amazon link].


A review copy of this book was given to me by the author in return for an honest and unbiased review of the same.

The Narrow Road to Palem – Sharath Komarraju – Book Review

Goodreads blurb
: Rudrakshapalem lies a few kilometers East of Godavari in the South Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. At first glance, it looks like just another sleepy little village. But as you walk along its borders and peer into the lives of its people, you will find that deep within its breast are hidden some dark secrets.

– In the temple compound roams a crazy man named Chander. He hugs a gold pendant and sings lullabies to it every night. What is his story?

– Subbarao, one of Palem’s richest men, came up the hard way, having started life as the poor son of a snack seller. But what is the secret that gives him sleepless nights?

– A young couple dealing with loss stand in front of the road to Palem, and there is a seller of mirrors on the sidewalk, welcoming them in. Will they heed his words, or will they run away?

– How much are happiness and peace worth to Rama Shastri, the priest of Palem’s Shiva temple? And to what extent will he go to ensure the well-being of his daughter?

In these ten delightful stories, Sharath Komarraju takes you by the hand and gives you a fully guided tour of Palem and its people. But don’t fear, he will bring you back home safe and sound, long before it’s dark.


Regular readers of my blog will know that I am quite a big fan of Sharath Komarraju and his work. In fact I would go far enough to call myself a die-hard fan of his work, and it therefore is quite a travesty that it took me so long to get around to reading The Narrow Road to Palem, his collection of supernatural stories. And given that it is a collection of short stories, I have gone ahead and penned down a couple of sentences about each of them below.

Subbai and his Ace of Clovers – Kind of guessable story, but intriguing nevertheless and the ending takes the cake for sure.

Malli – A more conventional edge of seat thriller with quite an unexpected ending.

Round and Round – As seems to be the norm with all the stories in this book, the ending is brilliant. What I particularly liked about this book was the role that the setting and the environment had to play, it was almost like I was there when the action was happening.

The Milk is sour – Now this story truly takes the cake so far, especially with the choice of the unlikeliest of antagonists.

The Narrow Road to Palem – This eponymous story is probably not as good as the ones preceding it, but has enough intrigue and insight into the human psyche. And I personally didn’t quite see the ending coming the way it did.

The Sitarist of Palem – Now this story was a bit more ‘classic horror’ in its treatment and quite a departure from the way the rest of the stories in this anthology have been written with in terms of style and treatment of the subject.

Peaceful are the dead – An extremely grim tale following the classic tenets of a horror story, at least in my opinion. Although you could see the end coming, the way the author has dealt with it is quite nice.

The barber and the milkmaid – This one is quite a chilling tale. It deals with the limits that a man goes to when driven by insanity and unfulfilled desires.

Dear House – This has to be one of the most ‘completely cuckoo’ stories that I have read in a while. The premise of the story is something that doesn’t quite grab you by the throat but slowly creeps up on you, just like all good story plots should.

No yellow in my rainbow – This story kind of seems like a culmination of the rest of the stories in this wonderful collection. I kind of find it hard to classify this story into any of the other genres in this book, but it just felt right to end this book with this story.

To wrap up, I wouldn’t slot this book in the classical horror genre but would rather put it in the psychological thriller genre. One way or the other, fans of the horror genre of books would surely enjoy it quite a bit.

Click here to purchase the book from Amazon [Link].


Disclaimer: A review copy of this book was provided to me by the author, however, the above review and opinions are honest and unbiased.