Killing Floor – Lee Child – Book Review


KillingFloor

Goodreads blurb: Killing Floor is the first book in the phenomenal bestselling Jack Reacher series by Lee Child. It introduces Reacher for the first time, as the tough ex-military cop of no fixed abode. Trained to think fast and act faster, he is the perfect action hero for men and women alike.

Margrave is a no-account little town in Georgia. Jack Reacher jumps off a bus and walks fourteen miles in the rain to reach it, an arbitrary detour in search of a dead guitar player.

But Margrave has just had its first homicide in thirty years. And Reacher is the only stranger in town. So he is thrown into jail. As the body count mounts, only one thing is for sure: they picked the wrong guy to take the fall.

——————

Although I quite enjoyed Jack Reacher, the movie starring Tom Cruise based on the eponymous character created by Lee Child, I didn’t quite get around to actually buying the books themselves until sometime last year, and funnily enough it took me all this while to get around to reading them as well, and what better place to begin with than the first book in the Jack Reacher series, Killing Floor.

As the blurb reads Reacher gets off a bus near Margrave, a sleepy town in Georgia and is making his way into town when he gets arrested for homicide, the first the town has seen in thirty years. Little does he know that this unfortunate coincidence has a deeper connection to him than he could possibly have imagined. And what’s worse little do the town’s residents know that their lives, as they know it, will never be the same in the future after the chain of events this arrest sets in motion.

Pretty soon Margrave sees it second homicide in thirty years and then a third one is also discovered, and Reacher finds himself embroiled deeper and deeper into what’s unfolding during his brief time in this sleepy town. Relying on his years of invaluable experience as a homicide investigator for the armed forces, and trusting his razor sharp instincts and chess-player like brain Reacher soon proves invaluable in the larger motive behind these homicides. What unfolds is nothing short of shocking and way beyond Reacher’s wildest imagination.

Without giving any more spoilers, suffice to say that the investigation that follows and the action that takes place in the rest of the book will leave even the most hardcore detective and homicide genre fans fairly breathless with the sheer scale of the plot and the crisp pace at which the action moves along. Not one word is wasted in this 500+ page book and for sure this plot provides a wonderful introduction to the character of Jack Reacher.

What I particularly liked about the book was that throughout the book, the author almost always uses unambiguous logic and hard facts to drive the action and doesn’t rely on coincidences or divine providences to bring up a sudden twist in the proceedings. That to me is the hallmark of all the homework that Lee Child did when plotting and etching out the characters and the narrative of this book.

In a nutshell, as mentioned before Killing Floor is a worthy debut for one of paperback literature’s most enigmatic homicide investigators Jack Reacher. A must-read for all fans of the crime thriller genre.

——————–

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

Advertisements

Temple – Matthew Reilly – Book Review


Temple

Goodreads blurb: Four centuries ago, a precious idol was hidden in the jungles of Peru. To the Incan people, it is still the ultimate symbol of their spirit. To William Race, an American linguist enlisted by the U.S. Army to decipher the clues to its location, it’s the ultimate symbol of the apocalypse…

Carved from a rare stone not found on Earth, the idol possesses elements more destructive than any nuclear bomb–a virtual planet killer. In the wrong hands it could mean the end of mankind. And whoever possesses the idol, possesses the unfathomable–and cataclysmic–power of the gods…

Now, in the foothills of the Andes, Race’s team has arrived–but they’re not alone. And soon they’ll discover that to penetrate the temple of the idol is to break the first rule of survival.

Because some treasures are meant to stay buried..and forces are ready to kill to keep it that way…

———————-

William Race’s boring everyday life and boring schedule is disturbed when the US Army temporarily ‘recruits’ him to translate an old manuscript written by a Spanish explorer which supposedly contains clues to an invaluable treasure, one that has the potential to change the world. While Race hesitatingly accepts the assignment, little does he realize the crazy roller-coaster ride that he gets on! From being taken on crazy chopper rides to midnight jaunts through the South American rainforests, being attacked by giant feline cats to being shot at by neo-fascist Nazis, the next few days in Race’s life are like no other that he has ever experienced so far. Does he survive this ordeal, and more importantly do his efforts bear useful fruit is what the overarching narrative arc of this book is about.

Temple was the first Matthew Reilly book I read and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that I thoroughly enjoyed his style of writing. The action picks up pace right from the get go and not one page goes by where the script is not pushed forward relentlessly. The speed at which the action unfolds is breathtaking and readers cannot afford to relax one bit during the entire duration of the book. The author does an admirable job at not giving any respite to readers, despite the fact that the plot combines science fiction with historical facts and legends from a far time ago. The only other author that I would compare Matthew Reilly to would have to be Michael Crichton where he combined science, fiction and history so well together that readers wouldn’t be able to figure out where facts ended and fiction began. The fact that I picked up this book and re-read 9 odd years after I first read it speaks volumes for the longevity of the author and his wonderful narrative style.

Given that it is that time of the year when Hollywood Action Blockbusters hit movie screens, and our adrenaline levels are at their highest, there is no time like summer to pick up this book and devour it to satiate our energy levels. Or look at it this way, this book serves to keep our energy levels high despite the best efforts of the searing heat to keep them low.

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

The Sandman – Lars Kepler – Book Review


TheSandman
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.

The Great Zoo of China – Matthew Reilly – Book Review


TheGreatZooOfChina

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.

Menaka’s Choice – Kavita Kane – Book Review


MenakasChoiceGoodreads blurb: We make love and leave. That is our motto. Live by it, Menaka or you shall suffer untold, unnecessary grief.

Born during the churning of the ocean, Menaka is the most beautiful of all the apsaras in the world, with quick intelligence and innate talent. However, she craves for the one thing she can never have – family. Elsewhere, after severe austerities, a man, now blessed with the name Vishwamitra, challenges the gods and dares to create another heaven. Fearing his growing powers, Indra, the king of gods, decides to put a stop to his ambitions by making Menaka seduce him.

What will happen when Menaka and Vishwamitra meet each other? Will Menaka finally find what she really wished for? Or will she again be forced to surrender to her destiny? Find out in this fascinating portrait of one of the most enduring mythological figures.

==================

Most of us know Menaka and Vishwamitra’s story only at a superficial level and I am sure all of you would agree when I say that the most we can come up would be the one line where we say that Menaka was sent down by Indra to seduce and disturb Vishwamitra’s penance when he had ambitions to become a Brahmarishi.  I confess that this was pretty much the extent that I knew of this story before I read this book. Blame popular media, blame my lack of insight into reading this particular story despite my interest in Indian mythology, blame whatever, but the fact remains that this one liner was what I knew about Menaka all these days. But this book changed all that and much more for me as far as this character in particular and apsaras in general are concerned.

As is the norm with all her books author Kavita Kane takes a slither of a story, a fairly unknown character, a lady perennially in the shadows, an actress in the wings, in Menaka and brings her to the centre stage and makes her the heroine of her story. And honestly, she does make for a good heroine as well, no two ways about that. Beautiful, smart, talented, warm, caring, elegant, intuitive, the list of positive attributes about her keeps going on and on. And as is the case with people who are blessed with such good things, the story of her life doesn’t quite mirror them. Being stuck in Indra’s court as an apsaras would be a fate that you wouldn’t wish upon even your worst enemy (at least as far as this book is concerned). And to be honest I found Indra’s depiction a little disturbing and distressing, more so given that this is the second book in recent times where his character has been written in a similar vein. I am guessing he is the favorite ‘bashing boy’ of all authors of Indian mytho-fiction books.

Coming to Vishwamitra whose story this book narrates as much as it does Menaka’s, I knew a little more about the man courtesy an old eponymous Doordarshan serial and his appearance in the Ramayana when Rama is a teenager. That being said I didn’t quite know his antecedents and his rivalry with Rishi Vasishta which spurs on the action in this book. Suffice to say he comes across as a man one could admire quite easily despite his obvious flaws. It isn’t quite hard to see why Menaka does what she does during the course of this story.

Although the genre chosen by the author for Menaka’s Choice would probably ‘officially’ be classified as mytho-fiction, I would probably be more inclined to put it squarely into the ‘romance’ or even ‘chick-lit’ genre (and I don’t use either of these words in a derogatory sense). My reasons for saying so would be the fact that at the heart of it, this book is the story of love, betrayal, redemption and so on and it just so happens that the action happens in a mythological setting. With Menaka and Vishwamitra, you have two protagonists who readers would ardently root for and you have an antagonist in the form of Indra who readers would love to hate.

In a nutshell, as was the case with her earlier books, this one too is a must-read for anybody who loves a good yarn with a strong woman as the main protagonist.

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

==================

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