A Midsummer’s Equation

A Midsummer's Equation: A Detective Galileo Mystery (Detective ...

After falling in love with the genius that was The Devotion of Suspect X, it was pretty clear that I needed to read more of Higashino’s books. A Midsummer’s Equation was an obvious choice, given it was part of the same series.

A Midsummer Equation was more of a classical murder mystery that in the end appeared to be relatively straightforward. Given that only a handful of main characters were presented, the suspect list was on the short side, making it simple to take a stab in the dark as to whom the culprit was. Yet the motive was not obvious in the least, making this an interesting read. Also, there’s something about the characters; Higashino does an amazing job fleshing them out – as a reader, you get a real sense of who they are.

I was amazed at how much I liked Kyohei. Normally I find myself to be frustrated when kids are introduced as part of the plot. However this was far from the case. Kyohei and Yukawa’s interactions were sweet. Their relationship was depicted in a realistic and brilliant way. Most of the time, their conversations were physics heavy and in all honestly for some of them, I was lost. But it was soon evident to the plot why so much focus had been put on physics; in fact, it was rather cleverly done. Yukawa’s small nuggets of philosophical wisdom were always welcome. The end scene with him and Kyohei was definitely a heart felt moment.

The teamwork and professional relationship between Kunsanagi and Utsumi was a delight to read. I loved how both of them came up with ideas, had an equal part to play  in the investigation and followed their intuition as detectives

The investigation went at a steady pace, often throwing up more questions than answers initially. The plot was never fast paced as such especially as there were sub plots scattered amidst the mystery. However, the steadiness of the pace seemed to mirror the setting of Hari Cove. There’s no sense of urgency or rush.

It seemed wholly unnecessary to be handed a whole selection of different police officers. It got confusing to keep track of who they were, what information they knew and what department they came from. What was even more unnecessary were the chapters from their point of view – I mean let’s be honest, it was just them being baffled by the whole case.

Moreover, it felt that there was a tad too much information about the undersea mining. And whilst I appreciate that some of these details were essential to the plot, that much level of detail was not. For me, it sunk the story a little especially considering that the sub – plot doesn’t even go anywhere in the end.

Basically, this was an interesting read. It took its time and as infuriating as that was at times, it was definitely worth it. Whilst the sub-plot and the sheer number of people mentioned from the police was unnecessary, everything else was amazing to say the least.

Until next time,

Saz

 

 

The Devotion of Suspect X

The Devotion of Suspect X By Keigo Higashino

This was a book that I stumbled upon by pure coincidence. Like most of my accidental stumblings, this one too happened in Waterstones. I remember someone had casually picked up The Devotion of Suspect X and jokingly asked if I had read it given how much I was gushing about books that day. Me being me and wanting to play along, I immediately said yes and in vain started to come up with some vague comments relating to what it was about when pressed. Obviously I had no idea what I was saying   was called out pretty quickly on my nonsense (for want of a better word). But since then, for some reason, it’s been on my mind. So naturally, I had to read it. After turning the last page, I wished I had picked it up then and there.

This was an incredible book and quite frankly, I would go so far as to say it was a masterpiece. The whole concept was simply brilliant in terms of writing and especially plot. Even though I went in knowing both sides of the story – i.e. who committed the crime and what angle the police were took, it still left me completely floored. After turning the last page, I just sat there in awe, hugging the book tightly.

“…the P = NP problem. Basically, it asks whether it’s more difficult to think of the solution to a problem yourself or to ascertain if someone else’s answer to the same problem is correct.”

I loved how mathematics and a sense of logic were woven in to the plot. At times, the whole narrative felt like a beautifully intricate game of chess unfolding. I was completely mesmerised, ultimately so much so that I forgot to eat whilst reading and managed to finish it in one sitting. There was just something different about this book. It was incredibly clever; the writer plays on your assumptions as a reader based on the snippets of information given, knowing full well that all is not as it seems. As a reader, you think you’re on the same level, but this is just a misconception – a cleverly laid out deception.

I noticed as well that in terms of writing, this book was basic. In that there wasn’t much description. Only those that were completely essential to the plot were given. For this particular story, this approach worked wonderfully. The whole book reminded me of the film Drishyam. 

“Sometimes, all you had to do was exist in order to be someone’s saviour.”

In a nutshell, this is one of the books that everyone should read – that’s all that needs to be said to be honest.

Sayonara,

Saz

 

 

 

 

 

Scream (TV Series, Season 1)

The Argonaut – “Scream” reboot disappoints

Knowing how popular the films had been, but never having watched them, the TV series of Scream made me curious. Plus at that point, I was in the market for a short TV series that could be finished within a couple of days. After putting my mind at ease that it wasn’t going to be pure horror, I sat down to watch it. Despite having finished Scream in just over a day, I was rather disappointed.

Scream got my attention pretty much straight away. I mean if a creepy murder doesn’t immediately get your attention, really what will? However, by no means did it manage to sustain my interest; soon enough after a few episodes, my mind had begun to wander. At this point, I was beyond caring what was going to happen.

It was easy enough to guess who was behind the mask even before the motive became apparent. This made the plot predictable and the element of surprise during the end scene whereupon the big reveal is shown had been completely lost. So basically it was anti-climatic to say the least. Although in all fairness, there were other parallel plot points happening which helped to place doubt and divert suspicion from the real killer, adding more to the mystery.

“Question is, have you just locked me out or locked me in?”

It would have been nice to have more information about the past and the links the killer had to it. A brief explanation is given which obviously provides motive. But it would have been more interesting to have more depth and clarity.

The majority of the characters all fitted in to their designated clichés perfectly, making them a little boring if truth be told. Admittedly, there was some semblance of character development, which lets face it is always welcome. There was nothing compelling as such about any of them. Noah was the odd one out – his character was brilliantly portrayed beyond doubt.

One part of Scream that I loved was how it outright poked fun at all the tropes in horror films. Not only this, it made direct references to other TV shows and films and to their main plot points and scenes. This just made it more relatable and amusing to watch.

Despite leaving some major unanswered questions at the end of the first season, safe to say, I won’t be watching the next season. I will admit though that after deciding not to watch the second season, I did read up on it (what can I say – curiosity got the better of me) and am glad that I didn’t invest anymore time in to Scream. 

Saz

P.S. I went to a psychic.

I knocked on her front door.

She yelled: “Who is it?”

So I left.

 

 

White Lines

White Lines (TV Series 2020– ) - IMDb

White Lines isn’t the kind of TV show that I would normally go for. However, I was deeply curious to know what is it about drug filled shows that make them so addictive (pun totally intended). I guess there was only one real way to find out. And so the binge began.

The story started off relatively slow whilst it set the scene, but this of course was to be expected. Soon enough, it was a fast paced ride, packed with murder, drugs and sex. The mystery element of the plot kept me hooked and Ibiza made for the perfect setting to showcase the hedonistic lifestyle filled with debauchery. I couldn’t help but notice there was an inexplicable amount of nudity featured, most of which was completely unnecessary. Not going to lie but I saw some things that left me a tad traumatised.

Whilst overall the story could be described as intriguing, the ending was a complete disappointment and at one point, it did not seem to make sense – namely the lack of Zoe’s reaction when she finally found out the truth about Axel’s murder. Prior to this, when she was convinced she had found the murderer, she was the epitome of rage and detached. However, when the truth was revealed, there was nothing to the point where it appeared she was fine with this – just knowing had been enough. This to me, made very little sense.

The ending as a whole felt rushed as if the writers had been unsure how to wrap it up, therefore left it open to interpretation to a massive extent. This left a handful of questions in the wake of the ending scene. Of course, this could have been done on purpose. After all, there might be a second season, for which the groundwork was being laid. However, the whodunit aspect was definitely more than satisfying and was neatly tied up.

When speaking about characters there’s complex and then there’s messed up. Most of those presented in White Lines fall in to the latter category. Some more so than others, but the majority of them are within that box. You initially start with complex characters and as the plot progresses, back – stories are soon unearthed. Before you even realise what is happening, you’re neck deep in crazy.

None of them are depicted to be particularly likable and it soon becomes the case of who do you dislike the least. Boxer was perhaps the most decent one out of the lot. What was striking was how little character development there was as a whole. Despite going through a hellish experience, hardly anyone changed for the better. Maybe people just aren’t that deep. Throughout the story, the question of how well you actually know someone was thrown up, which was thought provoking.

The style of the narrative was nicely done. I really liked how each episode would normally start off with a future scene within the present timeline but then show exactly how the characters got there and then carry on once that scene was reached, showing the end of that particular episode. The way snippets of information would be disclosed was incredibly well done – slowly and at first only half-truths were shown. The use of flashbacks was effective.

This is perhaps a minor point, but one that needs to be made nonetheless. The cast was brilliantly chosen – the younger characters matched up perfectly to their older counter parts. This gave the show that sense of realism. Also, it made it a lot easier to keep track of the different characters within the alternating timelines, as by no means were the scenes chronological. This was the case even when nuggets of information were being revealed.

Another small detail to mention was the bilingual aspect of the show. I loved how it was a split between English and Spanish rather than being pure English. I’m not entirely sure why, but it made for a more enjoyable watch. Also, despite the seriousness of the main story, there was humour scattered amongst the episodes and dare I say it, but at times the show could actually be heartfelt in a way.

In a nutshell, White Lines was certainly an addictive watch. I mean I did finish this in just a little over two days. This was an intriguing show that keeps you guessing right until the end. A good watch for sure,  but not one to watch if like me, nudity and sex scenes easily traumatise you.

Adios amigos,

Saz

 

 

 

The Fellowship of the Ring (The Lord of the Rings, Part 1)

The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien | WaterstonesAfter finishing The Fellowship of the Ring, a variety of emotions came crashing down and it took a while to slowly sift through them – to make sense of each one. The most dominant one was confusion. Lord of the Rings is one of those books that in my mind I had to fall in love with. I mean, let’s be honest, it is the fantasy book of all time, the book that not only put fantasy genre on the common literary map but also inspired other stories such as Harry Potter, Eragon and Game of Thrones. And yet despite all this, I was utterly confused as to why I hadn’t fallen hopelessly in love with it.

Someone once said that Lord of the Rings should not be considered as three separate books, but rather one long book that had been divided into three parts. After reading the first book, this made a hell lot of sense. The first part of Fellowship of the Ring concentrated mainly on the aspect of world building. The descriptions were incredible; the writing at times had a lyrical air about them. However, there was too much emphasis on this and soon I began to idly wonder if the plot would ever begin to take shape. It took just a little over half the story for this to happen.

The plot consisted mainly of Frodo and the gang walking, randomly bursting out in to song and having long conversations about characters that were never seen or spoken of again. Too many of these conversations were had, and way too much detail was provided; details that were unnecessary. This meant the story became rather convoluted and dense. Moreover, the songs, beautifully written as they were, seemed to be purposeless and out of context. Of course, there’s a very good chance that the subtler meanings were lost on me.

Whilst I could appreciate that the journey and mystery surrounding the Old Forest were supposed to be enjoyed and savoured, I was confused at Lady Goldberry and Tom Bombadil given that they came and went without so much as a thought. Their presence added literally nothing to the story.

“Not all those that wander are lost”

One feature that I absolutely loved was the ensemble of different characters that had been presented throughout the book but more so how a variety of types of characters made up the fellowship. The development of the relationship between Legolas and Gimli was amazingly depicted, the development of a mutual understanding and bond. Every member of the Fellowship proved to be resourceful in some way or another, except of course for Pippin. Whilst everyone else contributed to the quest, Pippin was busy complaining incessantly or making inane comments. But then again I guess every group has such a character in their ranks. Aragorn was by far the best character; he was skilled, level headed and mysterious – what’s not to like? It was a shame there weren’t more females in the fellowship or even in the main story.

Frodo being the protagonist didn’t quite float my boat. Frodo distinctly lacked personality and was rather bland, just plodding along with the burden of having the ring.

“Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens.”

In a nutshell, I spent the majority of the book being confused with the sheer amount of detail and characters mentioned that had no bearing on the actual plot. I wanted desperately to fall in love with The Lord of the Rings but obviously this did not happen, much to my utter disappointment. There was far too much walking and bursting out in to song for my liking. Alas, it just was not meant to be. Its doubtful I’ll be picking up the next one. And as for the films, well that remains to be seen (pun not intended).

In a while crocodile,

Saz

P.S. Instead of a swear jar, I have a negativity jar for everytime I have pessimistic thoughts. It’s half empty 🙂

 

Date with Malice

Date with Malice by Julia ChapmanRating 2.5/5

After finishing ‘Date with Death’ I was eager to be back within the tight knit community of Bruncliffe, amongst the Yorkshire dells. However, whilst reading Date with Malice I found myself disappointed frequently, questioning how this could be the sequel to the book that I had enjoyed so much.

One of the things I really liked about this book was the fact the focus was on Fellside Court this time round. The plot revolved around familiar characters and similar to Date with Death, it beautifully portrayed the relationships between them. The solidarity between Joseph and Artie was heart warming to witness. Speaking of relationships, the changing dynamics between Samson and Delilah was nicely done; it felt natural and unrushed. Additionally, Samson’s growing bond with the rest of the community was brilliant, especially his relationship with Ida Chapstick.

Another aspect that I enjoyed was how this book highlighted Delilah’s own talents and usefulness. At first, it seemed that the only reason Delilah accompanied Samson was because she knows the people, which firstly helps out Samson but secondly also motivates her to help as she is genuinely interested. However, this reason alone seemed weak for Delilah to be constantly helping him, considering she had two businesses to run and this time round, she had no personal stakes in the investigation. But this book showcased Deliah’s talents in the technological world, actually giving her a proper role.

Yet despite all this, there were many aspects that ultimately made the book a somewhat frustrating read. At first there were a lot of details that had been unnecessarily repeated from the first book, which made for an extraordinarily slow start. Moreover, the descriptions within the first few chapters were starting to border on ridiculous. This was also present in Date with Date, however this was expected given that this was the first book in the series. Nonetheless, in Date with Malice it became tedious; it was all unnecessary over the top detail. You can bet your bottom dollar for anything that could be described, was described. At length.

Date with Malice presented two parallel mysteries – the one at Fellside Court and the one with this missing tup. The latter could be considered more of a side plot, added for humour whereas the former was the actual plot. Still, the majority of the book was spent with Samson embroiled in the mystery of the missing tup; his presence in the main plot was practically non-existent until right at the end. This was perhaps the most baffling part.

In all fairness, all this could have been potentially overlooked if the ending had been a satisfying one. Sadly this was far from the case. When speaking about the Fellside Court mystery, the killer’s identity and motivation made very little (if any) sense. This was the deepest and final blow of disappointment.

If you haven’t gathered already, this was a rather disappointing and somewhat frustrating read as a whole. In all honesty, after reading Date with Malice I was unsure whether to continue with the series. Amidst all of this, my sister somehow coerced me to buy the Date with Mystery* so chances are I will be continuing with the series at some point once I have recovered from the blows of disappointment and frustration.

Happy Reading,

Saz

*But then she bought me Lord of the Rings so fair’s fair.