Category Archives: Books

The Chemistry Of Death

The Chemistry Of Death

(By Simon Beckett)

The Chemistry Of Death
The Chemistry Of Death

There are books you read, and then there are books that you just can’t stop reading. This one falls into the later category.

Once I picked it up, it was hard for me to put it down; so much so that I was ready to pull up an all-nighter to finish this book.

‘The Chemistry Of Death’, is an English novel, written by British crime fiction writer, Simon Beckett. This novel was published in 2006, as the first in David Hunter series. Later Beckett wrote more novels in the same series, like – Written In Bone, Whispers Of The Dead, and, The Calling Of The Grave.

Beckett has written other novels to, but it was his David Hunter’s series, which made him famous and have sold above 21 million copies worldwide. ‘The Chemistry Of Death’, was his first novel in David Hunter’s series.

David Hunter is the main protagonist in the book, The Chemistry Of Death. He is an expert forensic anthropologist, who came to a small Norfolk village, after a personal tragedy. He becomes a GP there, healing the whole village while still trying to recover from his past tremors, himself.

He was living a calm and quiet life as a GP of a small village, when suddenly one day his past came face him once again. When a highly decomposed and mutilated body of a village local is found in the woods, police turn to Hunter for his expert knowledge in anthropology to get some quick answers in solving the crime.

The Chemistry Of Death
The Chemistry Of Death

Hunter who wants to stay away from dead bodies, as much as possible, has no choice but to help police. In doing so, at one point, he himself become the center of suspicion by the villagers. Two more bodies are recovered and it put immense pressure on Hunter to come up with something helpful for the police to solve this horrific crime; all the while managing his new found love life.

Soon, things turn pretty personal, even for Hunter, who has now only 3 days to save the only person he love.

It’s a high chased crime mystery where you are always waiting for the next event. What will happen next? Everything seems suspicious. Everyone looks like a killer, even at one point best friend of Hunter’s, Ben is also thought of as a killer, but when in the end, this fog is settled and killer is known, you wonder about every why and how. Reason of killing, look somewhat murkier but, you can ignore it considering you never know what actually goes into a killer’s mind, or how much psycho can he be.

If you look at the story only, it’s not great. It will not stand out on its own. But, the good thing about this novel is, that it is written well.

It is written so well, that even the repellent details about maggots and larvae on a body don’t deter you from reading it further. In a fact they add a much needed aspect to the story as would have required by viewpoint of a forensic anthropologist.

I have not read other novels of David Hunter’s series yet, but I am hopeful that they will turn out equally good.

Here is to good reading.

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Tuesday Text – Labyrinth Review

Labyrinth review by Jyoti Singh
Labyrinth by Kate Mosse

Finally!!! Finally I finished ‘Labyrinth’, not the actual labyrinth but a novel ‘Labyrinth’ by Kate Mosse; again not model Kate Moss but author ‘Kate Mosse’.

Why it was a big deal? Well, to finish a really long novel, which is actually 500+ pages, and almost feel like 5000+ pages; it indeed is a big deal.

‘Labyrinth’ is the famous mystery novel which ‘Kate Mosse’ has written. This novel has received many awards like Best Read of the Year by British Book Awards. This novel seems heavily influenced by the popularity gained by Dan Brown‘s Holy Grail chase in his novel ‘The Da Vinci Code‘.

This book also quest for the pursuit of Holy Grail and use two different time periods set in France, to figure out answer to this centuries long question of, ‘What is Holy Grail?”

‘Labyrinth’ revolves around two of it’s female protagonist, Alice and Alais. Now, what intrigued me more is not only the main character, or shall I say Hero of the story, are two females, but, the villains too are two female characters belonging to two different periods.

Let me simplify it a bit for you. Alice, our present day protagonist, is working as a volunteer at an archeological site, when she accidentally discover a hidden cave and two skeletons. She unearth a century long secret, which she soon start to unravel with every death threatening obstacle on her way.

Alais, the girl from 13th century time period, is daughter of a prominent man of Carcassonne. In times of turmoil, she came to understand that her father is protector of a secret, and nor it’s her turn to help her father in keeping the secret safe. Her sister Oriane, who hated her free spirit, is sleeping with Alais husband, Guilhem.

Everyone n this story is after the Holy Grail, which can be deciphered with the help of three books. One out of these three books is with Alais, which his father has given her. Alais sacrifice her whole life to protect this book from her very own sister, Oriane. While our present day savior, Alice, has no knowledge of books until she met Audric, but she does got an accidental chance to see the ring of Labyrinth symbol, which can be used to summon Holy Grail. Marie-Cecile is present day vamp, who is after Alice and secrets of Grail.

It is later revealed that Alais is actually ancestor of Alice, and in this story people can live for more than 800 years, without being recognized. Story keeps on fluctuating between past and present, making you more and more confuse. One of the major problem with this novel is, that it is too long, with so many characters that you loose track of them and has to read back to identify their purpose. Characters are not well defined, and still they took so much of time to come across. It’s only near the end that is some fog gets cleared, and you actually can relate them to each other.

This is the major drawback of the novel. Also, there is no great mystery. I am not going to ruin it for you. But, seriously there is no actual mystery and you feel like cheated at the end of read. Language is also a major complication, as sometimes french is used, without any translation. As author is convinced that all her readers know French well enough to understand her book.

I should not compare it to Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, but still I can not resist; with Robert Langdon, you were solving puzzles and moving ahead in the story, this was making you connect with each page of book; while with Alice/Alais, you are confused, you have only one puzzle and you have to read 500 pages to reach there. You don’t even know what you are looking for. Are you looking for a connection between two Alices? Or, are you looking for Holy Grail? Or, this is just a period drama and story about heretics?

I am disappointed. 😦

Tuesday Text – The Astral

 The Astral - by Kate Christensen
The Astral – by Kate Christensen

I wanted to write about “The Astral”, last Tuesday only, but couldn’t do so. Reason – What to write about?

This book is so boring and have no story whatsoever. It’s a two line story of a husband whose wife throws him out because she doubts on him having an affair with his best friend. That’s it.

Nothing exactly happens other than this husband roaming around in streets, and trying to figure out what happened to him. Seriously, nothing happen after that.

Point to note, Astral is the name of building, where our hero/husband stays. So, this novel has nothing to do with the real meaning of Astral.

Read it if you want to read a well written novel (without a story). it’s good English. Written perfectly. Alas, not my type. 😦

Tuesday Text – The Story Of Philosophy

 

The Story Of Philosophy
The Story Of Philosophy

The Story Of Philosophy‘, is a book by Anne Rooney, illustrating the advent of thinking Philosophers and the evolution of Philosophy over the time. This book traces it’s Philosophical roots from ancient Greeks to the modern thinkers.

Beautiful illustrations with side notes, and related short stories embedded in the text, enhances the whole experience of reading and learning. It won’t make any point in reviewing this book, as it actually is a journey of the philosophical ideas of various philosophers. So, I would rather present to you some snapshot, or shall I say intellectual words deserving a good sharing with wider audience.

When Rene Descartes said, ‘I doubt, therefore I think, therefore I am‘, he put forward a very good reasoning, that I reason, that is why I am into existence, but what am I? What is I? This is the difference between Being and Knowing.

Another riveting topic is, should we believe in God, or not? Or, why should we believe in God? Pascal’s wager gave us a solution about the existence of God. He said β€œIf God does not exist, we lose nothing by believing that he does – death brings annihilation whether we believe or not. But if he does exist, then we stand to gain everything (salvation) by believing that he does, and to lose everything (damnation) by thinking that he doesn’t.”

Thought proving discussion has taken place among philosophers of various centuries to understand, what are we? What is Human Being? Is he mind, or matter, or soul? Where does our soul go when we die? Where do we go, when we die? Is there a heaven and hell? What is Self? What is consciousness? As Searle, put it, β€œConsciousness is an emergent property of the brain”. But, is it, only that?

Most fascinating thing that happened in the history of Philosophy is the relationship that three of the world’s greatest Philosophers have shared with each other. Great Philosopher Aristotle, was a pupil of Plato, who was actually a devoted pupil of Socrates, the great thinker of his time. What an amazing Philosophical lineage?

Socrates has once stated that β€œman cannot search either for what he knows or for what he does not know. He cannot search for what he knows – since he knows it, there is no need to search – nor for what he does not know, for he does not know what to look for.”

How should we live? If everything is predestined by God, how does it matter? How can we judge action of others, if every one of us is behaving the same way as God has destined us to do? What is a free will? If there is a free will, what will we choose, good or bad? How will we choose? Can we ever live in a perfect ethical and morally good society? What is good?

At the end, a Quote by Bertrand Russel, summarize it all by stating β€œThe point of Philosophy is to start with something so simple as not to seem worth stating, and to end with something so paradoxical that no one will believe it.”

Tuesday Text – The Story Of My Life

 

The Story Of My Life
The Story Of My Life – by – Helen Keller

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Helen Keller is an inspiration, not only for those who are deaf and blind but to all of us who have eyes and ears, but still can not see or feel the beauty around us.

β€œThe Story Of My Life”, is the autobiography of Helen Keller, depicting her struggles and their overcoming. This book is about her early life, mostly of first 22 years of her life.

The Story Of My Life
Helen Keller – The Story Of My Life

Helen Keller, was 19 months old, when due to a severe illness, she lost her eyes and hearing abilities. Later, she also becomes mute. Her autobiography β€œThe Story Of My Life”, shows her daily conflicts in very descriptive manners, specially the way she explored everything around her. Mainly her difficulties in making herself understood to others, like her parents and housemaids. Surprisingly even after all of these difficulties of her life, she became to be a great writer and inspiration to the whole world.

The Story Of My Life
Helen with teacher Anne Sullivan

If any person can have the credits to making Helen Keller, the way she is known to everyone today, this credit should go to her Teacher and mentor, Miss Anne Sullivan. In her autobiography Helen has written about how her world was dull and without any hope, till she met her teacher, Anne Sullivan, who brought light and love to Helen’s world. She made her independent enough to live with dignity and not a self pitying physically challenged person.

What makes it happen?

It’s language, learning and books; and lots of patience from her teacher. Anne Sullivan was herself suffering from an eye infection which later took her eye sight completely. She tried to teach Helen by writing letters on her hand, for each word. Specifically the first word that Helen learnt – Water, was the life changing event for her. The way it was written in the book, it makes the whole scene come alive. It was the most beautiful experience what Helen went through when she learned that everything in this world has a name, a word assigned to it.

The Story Of My Life
Helen Reading Braile

Helen also wrote about her relationship with her teacher, Anne Sullivan, and her friendship with Oliver Wendell Holmes. This book also had few of the letters shared with her. She also wrote about her first devastating experience of finding out that the first story that she has written is actually already written by someone else, much before her. She clarifies her stand by saying that everything that she has learnt is actually being told by someone or, she has read from others books. So she may have read the story in her childhood but she now has no memory of it.

Her autobiography is turned into many inspiring films too. two of them, which stands out are “The Miracle Worker” and “Black”. See my review of both here.

The Story Of My Life
Black Movie

It’s a good read whenever you want to get inspired and feel positive about your life and life’s blessings.