Book Review : They Do It With Mirrors – Agatha Christie

This particular Agatha pick was not really a treat-read for me. It is not bad either. I suggest you pick this if you are looking for a quick read (say when you’re travelling). For once, this is my first Miss Marple mystery (I’ve always favoured Hercule Poirot’s adventures better). Although I’m a huge Agatha fan, I’ll just be straight honest with this review.

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1. The Plot

For the shared concern of a mutual friend, Mrs.Van Rodryck asks her dear friend- clever old Miss Marple for a favour to which she obliges. When Miss Marple reaches Stoneygates- a rehabilitation centre for delinquents, she instantly senses danger in the air. Two bullet shots, perfectly timed, are fired simultaneously under the same roof, killing an unexpected guest. This risks the life of her friend Carrie Louise further more as she is the most anticipated victim (being the heiress of a vast fortune). With confusing, bitter-sweet family ties and multiple suspects-each more or less a part of the family with justifiable motives of their own, the case gets complicated. How Miss Marple helps the police in revealing the actual murderer makes for an interesting read.

2. The Plus Points

  • The pace of the book is steady. Nothing is rushed into or taken too long to unfold.
  • The various characters introduced are realistic in their sketches.
  • The setting in and around which the crime takes place, is well described and easy to imagine.
  • Little relevant details are not left out. Instead, they are mentioned to the point.
  • Multiple suspects and their motives initially confuse you since every suspect seems to be a potential murderer – which is an excellent thing.
  • The victim is kind of unexpected which took me by surprise a little but that hardly matters.

3. The Pits And The Falls

  • I was not very impressed with how the plot unfolded. Basic and predictable.
  • The identity of the criminal did not come as a surprise to me. So many characters and yet your first guess hits bull’s eye?! Mysterious much? Not!
  • Some characters are pretty abrupt.
  • I found it a little boring to be honest. It was not one of those mysteries which tend to linger in your thoughts for a while and leave you wanting for more from the author. 

To infinity and back,

Maliha Taqui

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Book Review : Tell Me Your Dreams – Sidney Sheldon

I know it’s been a month and over since I last updated the blog and I’m extremely sorry for the delays with the reviews. Hopefully, I’m going to dedicate  a little more time to my baby blog. So without wasting any more of your precious time, I shall begin.

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Okay so to define the book Tell me your dreams in one word would be to call it simply FANTASTIC. That is what I expect of Sidney Sheldon when I pick his works and he has not disappointed me with this one either. Here below, I’ll cut it down for you guys.

1. The Plot : 

One of the main protagonists frequently wakes up to chilling nightmares and she cannot explain what triggers those dreams she does not want to see. In addition to this, she senses someone following her everywhere. She wonders who.

The chilling piece revolves around three extremely attractive looking girls working for Global Computer Graphics, the three of them distinctive in their ethnicities and personalities. They are parallel lines which cannot meet. Or so it seems. Surprisingly, the Fates entwine them as suspects in a series of alarming and blood curdling murders across London, Rome, Quebec city and San Francisco which leaves the police confused and shocked at the same time. Their arrest leads to a crazy murder trial- the final hearing of which and its terrifying aftermath forms the crux of the story.

2. The Plus Points :

  • The character sketches of the three ‘suspect’ girls is very good.
  • The murders – CHILLING. Point made.
  • The murder trial – Brilliantly portrayed by Mr. Sheldon.
  • The motive, after-trial and anti-climax – traumatized me (in a good way).
  • The real life connect – I’m a big fan of the combination reel-cum-real. The book’s association with real life medical criminal cases was the cherry on the cake. It was my most favorite thing about the book.

3. The Pits And The Falls :

  • Etching of other characters – The mother and father of one of the girls had fairly adequate history and etching but personally, I was expecting a little more to unfold. That said, there were a few other characters whose details I’d have wanted to skip.
  • The murder trial – Yes, i said above that it was brilliantly portrayed but I felt it was a little longer than I wanted it to be.
  • The after trial – It tested both- my patience and curiosity. After going through so much, I just wanted the cat to be out of the bag.
  • The final climax – It is definitely good but a wee bit predictable. Or maybe it’s just me because I have the curiosity of a spy or probably just by reading a lot of Sheldon’s work I kind of know where it’s headed. BUT THIS SHOULD NOT STOP YOU FROM READING IT. There’s more to it than it seems. 🙂

To sum it up, it is a terrifying and worthy read. Sidney Sheldon  caters to my need of thrill and curiosity and terrifies me in different ways with each book.  This one left me mentally traumatized for almost a week 😦 . I wouldn’t say Tell me your dreams is his best work but it definitely counts among his top 5 in my opinion.

If you haven’t already read this one, I hope you do so soon because it is a perfect mix of mystery-fear-thrill and you will not want to put it down.

To infinity and back,

Maliha Taqui.

Short Story #1 – The Assassin

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Ten short quick steps brought him to the other side of the room. There was a sound of breaking glass. In a moment he had jumped out of the window. The window, Clarke realized, opened into an empty street. Another bullet missed his right ear by a mere inch. He got on his feet, brushed his dark suit , glanced at the mafia men over his shoulders insanely firing at him from the window above and dodging the rain of bullets, he disappeared round a corner. He would now scurry to the docks where his ferry awaited him.

The life of Clarke Davies, better known by the code name – Agent 21, was a journey that imperiled his own life and seemingly of those associated with him. Once an assassin is deemed habituated to killing, there are not many options- how could his existence be facile?! The way he mercilessly butchered this man an hour ago, was in his estimation the most vicious murder he had ever committed. Clarke undertook all his gruesome missions under the cloak-name Agent Twenty One. Back in London, his remaining family was blissfully unaware that their man of the house  who they unconditionally loved, was in all truth, a brutal, ruthless murderer (a.k.a- a hit-man).

Davies provided services to a secret agency of the underworld, for wages enough for an entire generation of his family to lead a fine life of luxury and benefits- but the monetary gains never seemed to make any difference to him. The Agency was headed by a very powerful man, Clarke had heard but even after working for him since five long years, he was not faintly acquainted with his boss. He received details of his gory adventures in mysterious packages delivered at his home at odd hours after nightfall, and he had to set off on his enterprise on the fixed date and hour leading him to prevaricate to his unsuspecting hemiplegic father and a widowed sister.

Clarke wasn’t in the least bit like this before- he had been a happy chap, living a normal and a free life but a heart-rending, soul- wrenching event changed him, inducing in him the spirits of hatred and vengeance for all those who were responsible for the anguish he had undergone. His thirst for revenge brought on his record, five appalling murders. Taking advantage of this vulnerable and vengeance-driven indomitable man, the Agency Head compelled him to sign the contract and in return promised to provide him ‘safety’ from the Law. Signing the contract was inevitable those five years back since there was another underlying threat to his family posed by none other than his boss. Hoping that his new job might guarantee the safety of his family, he decided to never look back.

Hence, five years into the future, everyone in the underworld  identified him as Agent 21- an accomplished rifle shooter, effortless with ballers and a fearless Assassin. 

Clarke reflected on his life in the past five years, as he kept running ahead of and dodging the mafia men who were following him like mad bulls. He was suddenly tired of this life- he felt sick on seeing his blood-stained hands which had mercilessly taken dozens of lives- some innocent, some cruel. The men chasing him worked for a mafia don who he had recently put to permanent sleep. The murder scene refused to fade away from his memory. He had axed the head of the man before his family- the helpless innocent faces for the first time in five years melted his frozen heart. The weeping frightened eyes of the Don’s youngest daughter reminded him of his own son who was slain years ago by men akin to Clarke in their actions. He realized the malice of his deed as he turned a corner and reached the docks where his ferry waited for him. Two short jumps and he would be in his ferry and make his escape from the mafia men.

To the astonishment of the man waiting for him in the ferry, he suddenly stopped running. He came to terms with the fact that the life as an assassin never brought him peace, that it made him less of a human every passing day, that revenge was not sweet and murders could never be justified- neither his wife and son’s murders five years ago nor the murder of that little girl’s father this very evening. As he opened his eyes now filled with tears, the boatman of the ferry signaled him to jump in. He breathed a heavy breath, nodded his head side ways, turned to face the mafia men (now advancing towards him even more quickly), raised his left hand back so as to signal the ferry to be off. When the motor inside the ferry began to throb, it faintly disguised the sound of a dozen bullet shots that pierced the body of Clarke Davies.

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The End.

P.S. – This was written way back in 10th standard by me but i have altered a few details.The main lead of this story is roughly inspired from a character in a video game I used to enjoy playing a lot when young. I hope you enjoyed reading it. Appreciation or criticism is welcome in the comments sections. (:

To infinity and back,

Maliha Taqui