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Book Nook - 15-01-2019

Tuesday, January 15, 2019
By Deepa Gahlot

There are Lit Fests taking place all over the country, but the community of readers is dwindling. Still, passionate book lovers would like to know what others like themselves are reading. This Book Nook suggests some books, but would also like to connect with serious readers, or even casual airport book browsers. Do write in about books you have loved or hated and why. The best entries will be shared on this page. Please send your recommendations to adc.booknook@gmail.com

Ballard Meets Bosch
In The Last Show, Michael Connelly had introduced a fiery new female character, Renee Ballard,  an LAPD cop, who chose to accept the night shift rather than put up with sexual harassment from a senior.

In the second book featuring her—this bright and brave woman, who lives in a tent on the beach and surfs like it were a religion—she meets Connelly’s old hero, Harry Bosch (he was introduced back in 1992 in The Black Echo and has featured in 20 books before). He has retired from the force, but still works cold cases for the San Fernando Police Department, mainly to keep loneliness at bay. His wife is dead and his only daughter is away at college. He just needs to be busy, and doesn’t care that his office is a former holding cell for drunks.

Both characters are very good at their jobs, but melancholy loners in their personal lives; it was a stroke of genius to have them meet and work together. The age gap ensures there will be no romance, and neither is looking for a surrogate family, so there is no dad-daughter vibe either. They just click and form an informal team.

On returning to the desk at the Hollywood Division, after solving a particularly unpleasant case, Renée sees a grey-haired man skulking around the office, and going through another detective’s filing cabinet. She confronts him and finds that he is looking for old notes on the Daisy Clayton murder, and that he is former LAPD cop, Harry Bosch. The case, which obsessed him in the last novel, Two Kinds Of Truth, is about Daisy, a fifteen-year-old hooker, who was found murdered nine years ago, her body callously dumped in a trash bin. Bosch got involved in the case, to the extent of continuing the investigation on his own, giving shelter to Daisy’s drug-addicted mother in his home and helping her get clean.

Ballard, always up for a challenge, and not too tied up with active cases, muscles into Bosch’s domain, first by going through cartons full of field notes—or shake cards as they are called by cops—by officers on duty at the time Daisy was murdered, and then following leads.

Bosch is also trying to find out who carried out a hit on a gang boss in the San Fernando Valley, and who managed to find out about his informer and killed him. The book may be dark and violent, but it is action-packed, with a razor’s edge rescue sequence that is brilliantly written. The Ballard and Borsch partnership works wonderfully well, with his experience and her quick-thinking—they are on equal footing, no sexism or ageism comes in the way.

Connelly reportedly wants to write a book with Ballard and his other popular series hero, Mickey ‘Lincoln Lawyer’ Haller, Bosch’s half-brother and frequent go-to guy. One can hardly wait!

Dark Sacred Night
By Michael Connelly
Publisher: Little, Brown
Pages: 448

 

Excerpt of  Dark Sacred Night
The patrol officers had left the front door open. They thought they were doing her a favor, airing the place out. But that was a violation of crime scene protocol regarding evidence containment. Bugs could go in and out. Touch DNA could be disturbed by a breeze through the house. Odors were particulate. Airing out a crime scene meant losing part of that crime scene.

But the patrol officers didn’t know all of that. The report that Ballard had gotten from the watch lieutenant was that the body was two to three days old in a closed house with the air conditioning off. In his words, the place was as ripe as a bag of skunks.

There were two black-and-whites parked along the curb in front of Ballard. Three blue suits were standing between them, waiting for her. Ballard didn’t really expect them to have stayed inside with the body.

Up above, an airship circled at three hundred feet, holding its beam on the street. It looked like a leash of light, tethering the circling craft, keeping it from flying away.

Ballard killed the engine but sat in her city ride for a moment. She had parked in front of the gap between two houses and could look out at the lights of the city spreading in a vast carpet below. Not many people realized that Hollywood Boulevard wound up into the mountains, narrow and tight, to where it was strictly residential and far in all ways from the glitz and grime of the Hollywood Boulevard tourist mecca, where visitors posed with costumed superheroes and sidewalk stars. Up here it was money and power and Ballard knew that a murder in the hills always brought out the department’s big guns. She was just babysitting. She would not have this case for long. It would go to West Bureau Homicide or possibly even Robbery-Homicide Division downtown, depending on who was dead and what their social status was.

She looked away from the view and tapped the overhead light so she could see her notebook. She had just come from her day’s first callout, a routine break-in off Melrose, and had her notes for the report she would write once she got back to Hollywood Division. She flipped to a fresh page and wrote the time — 01:47 a.m. — and the address.
She added a note about the clear and mild weather conditions. She then turned the light off and got out, leaving the blue flashers on. Moving to the back of the car, she popped the trunk to get to her crime scene kit.

It was Monday morning, her first shift of a week running solo, and Ballard knew she would need to get at least one more wear out of her suit and possibly two. That meant not fouling it with the stink of decomp. At the trunk she slipped off her jacket, folded it carefully, and placed it in one of the empty cardboard evidence boxes. She removed her crime scene coveralls from a plastic bag and pulled them on over her boots, slacks, and blouse. She zipped them up to her chin and, placing one boot and then the other up on the bumper, tightened the Velcro cuffs around her ankles. After she did the same around her wrists, her clothes were hermetically sealed.

Out of the kit she grabbed disposable gloves and the breathing mask she’d formerly used at autopsies when she was with RHD, closed the trunk, and walked up to join the three uniformed officers. As she approached, she recognized Sergeant Stan Dvorek, the area boss, and two officers whose longevity on the graveyard shift got them the cushy and slow Hollywood Hills beat.

Dvorek was balding and paunchy with the kind of hip spread that comes with too many years in a patrol car. He was leaning against the trunk of one of the cars with his arms folded in front of his chest. He was known as the Relic. Anybody who actually liked being on the midnight shift and lasted significant years on it ended up with a nickname. Dvorek was the current record holder, celebrating his tenth year on the late show just a month before. The officers with him, Anthony Anzelone and Dwight Doucette, were Caspar and Deuce. Ballard, with just three years on graveyard, had no nickname bestowed upon her yet. At least none that she knew about.

 

SHORT TAKES
According to the synopsis of Thinking Aloud: Reflections On Emerging India, “ Enter into the labyrinths of the mind of adman and lyricist Prasoon Joshi, as he takes you on a roller-coaster ride through cultural fields, creative mountains, cinematic valleys and tunnels of ideas. Joshi’s musings, in the form of a collection of columns, are divided into four sections, each exploring a specific theme, and all of them tied together by a common thread. They stem from ideas he has stumbled upon whilst working on and interacting about various projects, films, forums, literature festival discussions, and so forth. Some of them are set earlier in the decade, reflecting a simpler context, while the later ones have a more complex weave. Prasoon Joshi is a highly regarded socio-cultural voice of our times, deemed to have a finger on the pulse of the people. His views on the evolving story of India reflect the sharp intellect and sensitive perspective he layers his narrative with. Thinking Aloud promises to ignite the readers’ mind and makes them think about things which may have been lying dormant in their subconscious.”

Thinking Aloud: Reflections On
Emerging India
By Prasoon Joshi
Publisher: Rupa,
Pages: 208


The note on Amitava Nag’s book reads, “Satyajit Ray first placed India on the map of world cinema with his 1955-classicPather Panchali. In a career spanning nearly four decades and including twenty-seven feature films, Ray is undoubtedly the most-known Indian film-maker till date. It will probably not be an exaggeration to state that in Indian cinema Ray’s profiling of characters and his casting acumen resulted in some of the best on-screen performances it has ever seen.This book examines some of the most memorable characters put up by the maverick on the silver screen.”

Satyajit Ray’s Heroes and Heroines
By Amitava Nag
Publisher: Rupa ,
Pages: 248


Roopa Pai has written a book titled The Vedas and Upanishads for Children, the synopsis of which states, “Three thousand years ago, deep inside the forests of India, a great 'thought revolution' was brewing. In those forest labs, the brightest thinker–philosophers contemplated the universe, reflected on ancient texts called the Vedas and came up with startling insights into questions we still don't have final answers to, like:

* What is the universe made of?
* How do I know I'm looking at a tree when I see one?
* Who am I? My body, my mind, my intelligence, my emotions, or none of the above?
And where did they put those explosive findings?

In a sprawling body of goosebumpy and fascinating oral literature called the Upanishads! Intimidated? Don't be! For this joyful, fun guide to some of India's longest-lasting secular wisdoms, reinterpreted for first-time explorers by Roopa Pai, is guaranteed to keep you turning the pages.”

The Vedas and Upanishads for Children
By Roopa Pai
Publisher: Hachette India,
Pages: 424

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