Journey under the Midnight Sun – Keigo Higashino – Book Review

JourneyUnderTheMidnightSunGoodreads blurb: When a man is found murdered in an abandoned building in Osaka in 1973, unflappable detective Sasagaki is assigned to the case. He begins to piece together the connection of two young people who are inextricably linked to the crime; the dark, taciturn son of the victim and the unexpectedly captivating daughter of the main suspect. Over the next twenty years we follow their lives as Sasagaki pursues the case – which remains unsolved – to the point of obsession.

Stark, intriguing and stylish, Journey Under the Midnight Sun is an epic mystery by the bestselling Japanese author.


To be very honest the only reason I picked up this book to read and review was the fact that it was by the same author who had written The Devotion of Suspect X, a book which I am yet to get around to reading, but one based on which I saw a Malayalam movie Drishyam which I immensely enjoyed and found to be extremely well conceptualized. And man, did Journey under the Midnight Sun blow me away or what!!!

As the blurb reads, the book begins with the murder of a pawnbroker which is being investigated by detective Sasagaki from the homicide division of the police. And his investigation leads him to the house of the principal character Yukiho, an unusually captivating girl who seems endowed with maturity and wisdom way beyond her age. Further, Sasagaki is also introduced, albeit briefly with Ryo, the son of the pawnbroker himself as part of his investigations.

The narrative then follows the lives of Yukiho and Ryo over the course of the next two decades and it is using this overarching narrative arc that the author takes us readers on a joyride of a book. Following the decades where computers, the internet, and various other technological innovations are being introduced to Japan, the story tells us about Ryo and his various (mis)adventures operating strictly on the greyer side of prevailing rules and regulations. His trysts with software piracy and various other business ventures are as much a reflection of the seedier side of Japanese society and teenagers in the 80s and 90s as much as they move this particular novel along.

Yukiho’s narrative is more traditional and follows her life as she is adopted by an aunt and seems to come into her own under her aunt’s tutelage. Her blossoming into a beautiful, capable and a woman ‘wanted’ by any man who sets his eyes on her is far more interesting and intriguing. More so because she seems to possess an inalienable ‘aura’ around her. Her ability to captivate men and make them into her puppets seems almost magical and her ability to manipulate almost any and every situation to her advantage is almost unbelievable.

But over the course of these two decades Sasagaki keeps himself busy in trying to figure out the mystery of the unsolved murder of Ryo’s father, the pawnbroker. And the last portion of the book where Sasagaki seems to have cracked the case itself makes for some really interesting reading. It is in this portion that the author puts together the seemingly unconnected and unrelated pieces of the bigger jigsaw puzzle together. Does he manage to solve the mystery, what actually did happen to Ryo’s father forms the crux of the book itself.

Suffice to say that I have become a huge fan of Keigo Hagashino and am making a beeline to read the rest of his books sometime soon after reading this one. Despite its size which is almost double that of other books in its genre, this book truly remains worth the time and effort readers put into it. A truly thoroughly enjoyable read.

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


The publishers offered a review copy of this book to me in return for an honest and unbiased review of the same.

The Ruby Iyer Diaries – Laxmi Hariharan – Book Review


Goodreads blurb: This novelette is a companion book to The Many Lives of Ruby Iyer. A peek into the soul of an angry, young girl, who will come of age in a city on the verge of total annihilation. Ruby kept a diary from the age of ten till she ran away from home at sixteen. It is from here that I picked out a few diary entries for The Ruby Iyer Diaries. This short series of vignettes from Ruby’s life, tells you more a little more about the origins of Ruby Iyer.


While I have heard more and enough about The Ruby Iyer series of books I haven’t quite done the honors of actually adding the books themselves to my To Read list and procure them. But when I was approached to read and review the same, I immediately jumped at the opportunity and grabbed it with both hands given that I had immensely enjoyed the series of blog posts that Laxmi Hariharan, the author had published on her blog introducing us to Ruby Iyer, the protagonist of this series.

This novelette, The Ruby Iyer Diaries, as the blurb states is a companion book and is more of a series of diary entries of Ruby from the time she was ten till around the time the incidents of the first book in the series starts.

Suffice to say that this novelette provides enough and more spice for prospective readers of the series, such as myself, to lick their lips in anticipation of more. The spunk, determination, angst and some of the weirder motivations of Ruby come to the fore in these diary entries and leave readers with no doubt as to how Ruby would react to situations that are thrown in front of her in the books themselves. If anything, the diary entries themselves left me impatient to get around to reading the books and see Ruby in action.

Her somewhat dysfunctional family with a mother who seems to care only for her younger brother more than for her, her father who seems to love her but is not around often enough, her anger issues, her encounters with a perverted shrink, her first violent encounter, all of these and a bit more are brought out in this novelette and as I stated earlier as well, there is enough and more to leave readers wanting to read more about this extremely interesting character.


A review copy of this novelette was provided to me by Debdatta from b00kr3vi3ws in return for an honest and unbiased review of the same.

Crimson City – Madhulika Liddle – Book Review


Goodreads blurb: A serial killer is terrorizing Dilli and Mughal nobleman and detective Muzaffar Jang might have finally met his match.

In the spring of 1657, the Mughal armies have reached the Deccan, besieging the Fort of Bidar. Back home in Dilli, there is unrest: the empire seethes and stirs, and its capital reflects this turbulence. Muzaffar Jang, newly married to his beloved Shireen and trying to adjust to life as a husband, stumbles into the investigation of a merchant’s murder. Even as another crime – the kidnapping of a wealthy moneylender’s infant son – occurs, Muzaffar finds himself at odds with his brother-in-law, Khan Sahib, the Kotwal of Dilli.

Things get increasingly puzzling as one murder follows another and, soon, it is clear that the streets of Dilli have a serial killer on the loose. Muzaffar, who soon finds himself at odds with the system as well as those closest to him, must follow his gut to unmask this audacious murderer, while trying to obey Khan Sahib’s warning: do not get in the way of the law. But has he finally bitten off more than he can chew?


The first thing that strikes you about this book blurb is that it deals with a series of murders set in the Delhi of Mughal times, even before Aurangazeb, and the fact remains that while it remains to write a credible crime thriller set in contemporary times, the difficulty of writing a book in this genre set in a period of which the author has only ‘theoretical’ knowledge of makes it all the more interesting. And trust me when I say this, Crimson City by Madhulika Liddle does not disappoint either on the authenticity front (in that it is set in the Mughal period) or on the crime thriller front (in that it is an extremely competent book in this genre).

Although this is the fourth book in the Muzaffar Jang series, it can very easily be read as a standalone book like I did without readers missing out on any continuity of the characters etc. The author throws in more than quite a few subtle hints at the beginning of the book with regard to the main protagonist, Muzaffar Jang, his abilities, his reputation, his strength of intuition and perseverance to follow up on problems until he resolves them, etc. And the best part of it is that these hints are so subtly hidden in the narrative flow that they don’t quite come across as irritants and serve only to enhance the overall reader experience.

Muzaffar is newly married and is settling down into marital bliss quite well when he stumbles upon the murder of a cloth merchant. One thing leads to another and pretty soon he finds himself in the thick of the action as a series of murders occur in Delhi. Although he is asked to stay away from ‘official police work’ by his mentor and brother-in-law who happens to be the ‘Kotwal’ of Delhi, his inquisitive nature and a series of co-incidences manage to keep Muzaffar involved with these crime investigations.

Forming perfect foils to his inquisitive nature are his new wife Shireen who proves to be the best sounding board that Muzaffar could ever have akin to the role that Dr Watson plays in Sherlock Holmes mysteries, albeit strictly from the background unlike the good doctor. With each conversation they have about the murders, Muzaffar’s faith in his wife’s abilities, intuition and general good sense is proven right, so much so that she ends up playing a reasonably critically active role at the very end of the book. And Akram, Muzaffar’s old friend from earlier mysteries also ends up playing quite an active role in the proceedings as well.  All in all, Madhulika builds up the narrative with quite an interesting mix of characters, all of whom stand out on their own reasonably well.

In a nutshell, buy this book if you like well written period books, especially in the crime thriller genre.

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 of the same.

Yes, my accent is real – Kunal Nayyar – Book Review

YesMyAccentIsRealGoodreads blurb: Of all the charming misfits on television, there’s no doubt Raj from The Big Bang Theory — the sincere yet incurably geeky Indian-American astrophysicist — ranks among the misfittingest. Now, we meet the actor who is every bit as loveable as the character he plays on TV. In this revealing collection of essays written in his irreverent, hilarious, and self-deprecating voice, Kunal Nayyar traces his journey from a little boy in New Delhi who mistakes an awkward first kiss for a sacred commitment, gets nosebleeds chugging Coca-Cola to impress other students, and excels in the sport of badminton, to the confident, successful actor on the set of TV’s most-watched sitcom since Friends.

Going behind the scenes of The Big Bang Theory and into his personal experiences, Kunal introduces readers to the people who helped him grow, such as his James Bond-loving, mustachioed father who taught him the most important lessons in life: Treat a beggar as you would a king. There are two sides to every story. A smile goes a long way. And, when in doubt, use a spreadsheet. Kunal also walks us through his college years in Portland, where he takes his first sips of alcohol and learns to let loose with his French, 6’8” gentle-giant roommate, works his first-ever job for the university’s housekeeping department cleaning toilets for minimum wage, and begins a series of romantic exploits that go just about as well as they would for Raj. (That is, until he meets and marries a former Miss India in an elaborate seven-day event that we get to experience in a chapter titled “My Big Fat Indian Wedding.”)

Full of heart, but never taking itself too seriously, this witty and often inspiring collection of underdog tales follows a young man as he traverses two continents in search of a dream, along the way transcending culture and language (and many, many embarrassing incidents) to somehow miraculously land the role of a lifetime.


Even if you haven’t seen the TV show, The Big Bang Theory I am willing to bet that you have at least heard of the same, and if not, trust me this book is still worth a read even though it is written by one of the four leading actors of the show, Kunal Nayyar.

What I personally loved about the book was the fact that from the very beginning itself (the Quotes section on Page 2 by ‘famous people’) till the very end, the last page with the Acknowledgements, Kunal managed to keep me in splits with his unique brand of self deprecating humor without resorting to time tried clichés involving an Indian stuck in the US of A.

At best this book serves as a memoir of Kunal’s life so far in terms of a brief description of his immediately family, a few years before he goes to the US to study Business Management, his foray into theatre and later on into a course in acting, his initial struggles to get established as an actor, finding his way to the cast of what would prove to be his biggest break; the role of Raj Kootharapalli in The Big Bang Theory and his life subsequently.

While Kunal could have chosen the easy way out and pontificated about how his life as an actor was a huge struggle and how he had to start from scratch when it came to showbiz, the fact that he chooses to underplay the struggle bit while highlighting how each experience and each setback was used by him as lessons to become stronger, better and funnier goes on to highlight his extremely positive outlook to life. And further, the manner in which he self deprecatingly goes on to discuss his shortcomings threadbare while not getting into either a self-pity or a self-glorification trap goes on to show how well grounded and humble he is as a person (or at least as a writer of this book).

In a nutshell, this book is a genuinely funny and interesting account of Kunal Nayyar, the person, the son, the friend, the actor and lately the husband as well.  Although he claims this is not a memoir of his, I would beg to disagree. While it might not be a memoir in the truest sense of the word, this book surely does give readers more than a fair idea of the person, his value systems, his life so far and his personality. And if that is not a memoir, what is?

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 of the same.

After The Crash – Michel Bussi – Book Review

AfterTheCrashGoodreads blurb: On the night of 22 December 1980, a plane crashes on the Franco-Swiss border and is engulfed in flames. 168 out of 169 passengers are killed instantly. The miraculous sole survivor is a three-month-old baby girl. Two families, one rich, the other poor, step forward to claim her, sparking an investigation that will last for almost two decades. Is she Lyse-Rose or Emilie?

Eighteen years later, having failed to discover the truth, private detective Credule Grand-Duc plans to take his own life, but not before placing an account of his investigation in the girl’s hands. But, as he sits at his desk about to pull the trigger, he uncovers a secret that changes everything – then is killed before he can breathe a word of it to anyone…


Now with a blurb like that this book promised to be quite the mystery thriller and while it doesn’t quite fall into the ‘edge-of-the-seat’ type of thriller, this book is more than quite a competently written mystery for sure. And what’s more it belongs to the European thriller genre of which I have quite recently become a reasonably big fan of.

The author uses the journal of Credule Grand Duc in which he tries to reconstruct his eighteen year old investigation into the crash and the mystery behind the sole survivor, Lylie (a smart polyphonic reconstruct of the two possibilities, Lyle-Rose and Emilie) and who her actual parents are. This method of storytelling, in my opinion, works quite well for this book as it spans more than quite a few years in its scope.

Marc Vitral, Emilie’s elder brother is given the Grand Duc’s journal by her on her eighteenth birthday with instructions that he read it only after she leaves the restaurant where they are meeting. This sets Marc on quite the journey, metaphorically where he follows the Grand Duc’s trail of investigation over the past decade and a half, and literally where he makes his way to the Carville residence to get some much needed answers. As if this weren’t enough, Malvina Carville, Lyse-Rose’s elder sister is on a journey of her own to get some answers from the Grand Duc and get him to justify her entire childhood which had been put out of gear due to the crash itself.

Who is the sole survivor of the crash? Lyse-Rose Carville or Emilie Vitral? Which family does she belong to? These are the questions that form the heart and soul of this well written book. And the answer eludes even somebody as competent and methodical as the Grand Duc until the very last moment when he has quite the epiphany.

Read this book if you want to go down on a journey of two disturbed families, two extremely disturbed ‘siblings’ of the sole survivor with completely different personalities, one crazy hard-nosed methodical investigator who is determined to do whatever it takes to get to the very heart of the mystery.

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 of the same.