Wednesday, January 29, 2020


Title: The Best Man to Die (Inspector Wexford #4)
Author: Ruth Rendell
Publisher: Fawcett
Pages: 208
My GoodReads Rating: 

Jack Pertwee is getting married to Marilyn Thompson. His best friend Charlie Hatton, rude and obnoxious with everyone except Jack, and flush with funds, is to be his best man. On the night before the wedding, Jack invites his friends for a party at the local pub. Charlie never makes it home alive. Who could have done him in?

Was it George Carter who he mercilessly ribbed? Or Maurice Cullam who suffered on account of Charlie’s cruel wit?

The case is assigned to Inspector Reginald Wexford, who also gets involved with another case where a couple, Jerome and Dorothy Fanshawes, and their grown daughter, Nora, meet with an accident. The father and daughter are killed on the spot, the daughter charred beyond recognition. The mother is in a coma. When she recovers, she insists that her daughter is alive and in Germany.

Wexford is convinced that the two cases are related. Who then is the dead girl? And how did Charlie, a mere lorry driver, have so much money?

I enjoyed the plot and the manner in which the two investigations come together. The ends are tied together very neatly. 

I also thought it rather clever how every character in the book took the story forward to its conclusion. This includes the newly installed lift at the police headquarters, which Wexford is very afraid of, and which seems to be a real character.

I couldn’t quite put a time stamp on this novel, but considering that lifts and washing machines are a relatively new technology here and the word, mongoloid, hasn’t yet been pronounced politically incorrect

This book reminded me a little of Agatha Christie though Ruth Rendell went a step further in her descriptions.
I enjoyed the omniscient narrator’s observations: The townsman calls grass green when in reality it is as many-coloured as Joseph’s coat.

Things in the world of fashion evolve more slowly for men than for women.

Apart from the observations, I was touched by the tone of the omniscient narrator: indulgent, faintly mocking, truthful, unwilling to suffer fools.

There were many references to classic literature, too many to mention, that I found very interesting.

As in all detective fiction, Inspector Wexford has a foil in the extremely trying and aptly named Inspector Burden.

I quite liked Wexford, old-fashioned, overweight, squeamish about listening to awkward subjects around lunch. He is the kind of detective that can grow on a reader. He has his weakness and he is not afraid of admitting it.

This was my second Ruth Rendell novel. I must now look out for her other books.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020


Title: The Curse of the Cheese Pyramid (Geronimo Stilton #2)
Author: Geronimo Stilton
Publisher: Puffin
Pages: 128
My GoodReads Rating: 

I first came to know of Geronimo Stilton only when a book from the series was gifted to La Niña. It was the first book that she began to read on her own. Prior to that, she enjoyed reading but preferred to be read to, claiming that it left her free to exercise her imagination.

It was the formatting of this series, complete with words in different colours and fonts, text in various sizes, and numerous small illustrations scattered throughout the pages, intermingled with the text, that invited her to read for herself. She hasn’t stopped reading since.

Geronimo Stilton is the editor of The Rodent’s Gazette, a popular newspaper on Mouse Island. When his grandfather, William Shortpaws, a notorious cheapskate and the founder of the newspaper, decides to cut back on the expenses, Geronimo discovers that he is in for a most terrible time.

Grandfather William fires all the employees and orders Geronimo to do all the work, including writing, printing, and being general errand boy. Geronimo’s sister Thea is named the Page Three correspondent, while his cousin, Trap, who cannot hold a job, is appointed Grandfather’s personal cook. Geronimo’s nine-year-old nephew, Benjamin, is named Grandfather’s personal assistant.

The elderly mouse sends Geronimo off to Egypt to write a special report on the pyramids. But the flight and other arrangements that have been made are so cheap and dubious that the young hero wonders if he will ever return alive. 

Instead of a seat belt, there is a piece of string. The windows are broken and passengers are urged to buy overpriced parachutes and lifebuoys. To make matters worse, when he wants to visit the washroom, he is given a bedpan, and the plane runs out of fuel in mid-flight.

Once he lands in Egypt, he discovers that Prof Alrat Spitfur has invented a new way to create energy using camel dung. The professor invites Geronimo to visit the pyramid of the ancient Egyptian pharaoh, Cheops.

Geronimo will be kicked at and spat on before this adventure is over.

La Niña loved the book. She loves to draw and paint and was entranced by the colourful illustrations.

The characters have such evocative names as Sammy Slickpaw, Alrat Spitfur, ‘Crash’ Ratjack, Ted Simplesnout, Miss Sally Skinnyfur, Daniel E Deadfur etc, all guaranteed to amuse kids. The locations in the book are Mouse Everest, the Great Mousewood Forest.

The figures of speech, Quick as a water rat doing the pawstroke, I looked like a tired lump of mouldy green cheese and Like a cat with a fur ball stuck in its throat etc and other expressions Slimy Swiss balls, Holey Cheese, Crunchy Cheese Chunks etc are all examples of regular expressions adapted to the mouse world.

Along the way, young kids get a not-quite-authentic (since the pharaohs are all mice) but still thoroughly entertaining lecture on Egyptian culture.

(I read this book through NetGalley.)


Title: The Night Janitor
Author: TF Allen
Publisher: Self-published
Pages: 306
My GoodReads Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I don’t know what genre to categorise this book into. It was a thriller certainly, but its supernatural elements were at the core of this story.

Luke Johnson works as a night janitor at a hospital. It is not his real name. The job allows him access to patients, allows him to heal. His only aim is to heal people of their illness, heal the world of the evil that his sister stands for.

Luke has amazing powers of healing, while his sister, Annamaria Gabor is a sociopath, a cold-blooded killer. Annamaria, her name now changed to Anna Varner, is now running for the post of Vice-President of the United States, after the unexpected death of her husband, who was earlier supposed to be a running mate to Senator Blair. Annamaria knows it is only a matter of time before the Senator is no longer a hurdle in her path and the Presidency is hers. She will do whatever it takes to reach the top.

For Annamaria has a power. She can kill by touching her victim and whispering the name of the disease she wants them to be struck with. She now wants to hurt Nick, the fake psychic conman who is actually the father who abandoned her and Luke when she was only 13 years old.

Luke must hide his abilities from people, and most of all keep moving as he desperately seeks to avoid getting hunted down by Annamaria’s goons. 

After years of running, Marisa Cruz, a nurse at the Houston hospital he works for, breaks through his defences, promising to keep him under the radar so he can continue to heal. Luke knows that it’s not a promise she can keep. Annamaria will not rest until Luke is dead.

Eventually, Annamaria decides to take matters in her own hands. Sometimes you needed to drive into the mud and wrestle with the pigs yourself.

Meanwhile, Clyde Merritt, a YouTube sensation on the lookout for a story that will make him viral, becomes aware of the Gabor siblings. It is the most unusual story of his career, and it helps him earn more money than he has ever known. But it also draws the attention of Annamaria, exposing him to real danger. When she sends goons after him, he becomes part of the story he is chasing.

Unknown to Annamaria and Clyde, there is yet another person whose existence threatens the most powerful woman in America. Will Annamaria kill Luke and Marisa, or will they be able to defend themselves?

The book grabs our attention with the very first line: No one had shot at Luke Johnson in three months.

The Night Janitor is written in the third person point of view of Luke, Annamaria and Clyde. The action is relentless, given that life and death are hanging in the balance.

But there were some things that stuck out. It’s hard to believe that a nurse would be so adept at handling guns, or why she even has a gun in the first place. We don’t come to know of any threat to her life.

Also, a lot more could have been done to show why Annamaria was so angry with Luke, other than the inciting incident.

Even though the abilities of the siblings are supernatural in nature, they feel completely plausible in the story. Even so, I would have liked to have known how they had first become aware of their powers. Had matters of faith and belief been brought into the mix, it would have been an added bonus.

The character of Clyde started out strong but fizzled out midway through, only to assume control of his actions once again towards the end of the book.

I don’t know if the author plans to work on a sequel, but I hope he thinks about it, especially given the powers of yet another character that we come to know of. There are pharma companies and hospitals that would definitely object to healing powers.

(I read this book through NetGalley.)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...