In my early reading days, who dunnits were popular and like every one else I read all the tales of Sherlock Holmes (Conan Doyle) Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple (Agatha Christie), always partial to Poirot over Miss Marple. Thanks to other readers in the family, I also enjoyed the less well known members of this genre – Dorothy L Sayer’s Lord Peter Wimsey, Margery Allingham’s gentleman sleuth Campion and Ngaio Marsh’s Roderyck Alleyn. Except for Holmes, who prowled the London streets of the late 19th and early 20th century, all the others were located in the gentle English society of the 1920s, and shared much in atmosphere and locale. My father was the one who introduced me to, what was my favorite detective, Maigret, created by the Belgian Simenon. American who dunnits were a whole lot different, and although I read fair number of Perry Mason stories (Erle Stanley Gardner) and Ellery Queens, I did not enjoy these as much as the others. Of course, while talking of the great fiction detectives I have enjoyed, I cannot forget GK Chesterton’s Father Brown, the gentle frumpy priest. After that initial enthusiasm, my interest in the genre evaporated. Also, the genre went into a decline with not many writers in the 50s, 60s and 70s and it was probably not popular with young readers of the time. And of course
In recent times, crime thrillers have come into fashion again, led I believe by Scandinavian authors and highlighted by the immense popularity of Stieg Larsson’s Millenium triology. After, avoiding it for a long time (as I do with so many so called best sellers) I finally plunged in – and really enjoyed it. But was not motivated to foray into the other compatriots of Mr Larsson. Of course, the crimes have changed and the solutions too, in this vastly changed world.
In recent years, I have also enjoyed the Adam Daglish books by PD James. But, on the whole, ‘who-dunnits’ are not among my favorite genres. And so, I must admit that I am looking to change my views after reading the Higashino book. I bought it recently, as I was browsing in the book shop, came across it and recalled that I had read great reviews from more than one source. And I must say, that it had me absorbed and involved to the very end – modern, not tech heavy, gentle pace and excellent characters – and of course a brand new locale, Tokyo. I would recommend it to every one, who is into who dunnits and also to those who are not.
VS Naipaul is the master of English – a delight to read every time. In this book too, he paints the lucid, magical moods of the gentle English country side, the change of seasons, the old houses, the farms and gardens. All this is described through the eyes of the expat from the West Indies, through his transition from a fresh immigrant in the early 1950s through his two decade struggles to become a writer. It seems to be autobiographical, and traces the gradual decay of the land around him with advance of mechanization – so called ‘progress’!! But it is a slow, melancholic and sad book – with a handful of other characters, all seen form a distance. We get only a peripheral glimpse of these lives – and in none of themis there any joy or light. On the whole a dark book…
In other news, I finally started the Ramachandra Guha book ‘Gandhi before India’ and am going one chapter a day. I also have started a Philip Roth novel “The human stain’. And the Libib library project is progressing – I have added 378 books, all fiction by UK, other Commonwaelth and US authors. Now I a heading into the European fiction….