Review: The Chamber

 

The Chamber by John Grisham
The Chamber by John Grisham

This is the first John Grisham book I ever read. I had no idea about his other bestsellers. And this was the book that propelled me into diving headlong into a deep pile of thrillers and fish out Mr. Grisham’s works hereafter.

The Chamber here is the gas chamber in the Mississippi State Prison, where Sam Cayhall, former klansman and unrepentant racist is facing the death sentence. Our protagonist is Adam Hall, a twenty six year old facing a brilliant legal career ahead of him. And he also happens to be the grandson of Sam Cayhall.

While Sam Cayhall tries to ready himself for death in the Chamber, Adam is trying to get his act together and save his grandfather from the poisonous chamber. What follows is a tale of drama and intrigue into their pasts.

John Grisham has a natural flair for writing. He doesn’t struggle to write differently. He seems to deal with moral dilemmas as deftly as he does with legal whodunits. His characters are as real as they can get in a book. One can actually feel for the man-boy Adam Hall, trapped between two difficult choices.

For regular readers of Grisham, this book might not go down as well on account of the slow pace and abundant doses of sentimentalism strewn across the pages. Despite all of that, it’s an equally engrossing and compelling read.

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Book Review: The Healers by Henry Denker

The Healers- Henry Denker
The Healers- Henry Denker

The internet is painfully ignorant of this excellent piece of work by Henry Denker, more widely known for the famous radio series, The Greatest Story Ever Told.

Healers is a historical-medical-novel that covers the story of two people brought together by their calling to heal others. David Lindellhall, growing up in 19th century Vienna, finishes his medical education despite the anti-Semitism rife in the empire. In the novel, he also gets to works as an assistant to the medical pioneer Semmelweis and aiding him in conducting an experiment proving the cause of puerperal fever and helping him reinforce the practice of doctors disinfecting their hands before changing patients.  He participates in a student revolutionary movement which changes everything for him and he has to escape to America.  Though his training under Semmelweis is a great asset, he’s dreadfully afraid of performing surgery because he had failed it at once, under an emergency.

Meanwhile in the United States, Mary Sinclair becomes one of the first students of the Philadelphia Female Medical School,  and goes on to attend the Ecole de Medicine of Paris, as the only female student there.  She was one of those rare women who were studying medicine to become doctors, and not a nurse. Her rebellion against her society invites her much unwanted attention and slander, but she shows strength and nerve that will be her carry her on through a tumultuous life ahead.

Returning to the States, she meets David in a Manhattan anti-slavery riot and they are both appointed to Jews Hospital where their attraction for each other grows and they get married, despite opposition from Mary’s family. To her father’s horror she gets drawn to Judaism and converts.  What follows is the journey of two noble souls, prone as much as human soul is to vices and struggling against them, united in their aim to heal people.

Having read only this book by Denker, I cannot say whether he’s an exceptional writer and storyteller, but I can vouch for the power of this book. Set in precarious times, he brings out two characters whose strength and courage to do the right thing supersedes everything. He shows us two human beings, with all their foibles and fallacies, tiding over obstacles and temptations with equal fortitude and striving dedicatedly to do better for others. The struggles that they face could ruin any other weaker people, but they survive and teach others by example. One might think that he presents them in a positive light, but he has just put two people with a good heart and that is what makes them appear in good light despite the many falls they suffer.

The thing with such goodness, especially in our times, is that it begins to look like an alien concept. It seems phony, fake, too goody-goody, far-fetched even to read about characters glowing with a halo over their heads. But maybe it’s a necessary throwback. Maybe it is good to re-discover old world charm and niceties. Maybe it is imperative that we fall for such stories, from time to time.

The book might not be a great book, but it is a simple heart warming story which must be read, sometime.

 

You can also read it here.

Book Review : The Firm by John Grisham

 

The Firm- John Grisham
The Firm- John Grisham

For a lawyer, getting signed on by a big law firm with a paycheck that’s almost indecent to talk in public circles must be a dream come true. Add to that a swanky BMW being leased to you, a lovely home with a decorator, and perks that even some of the white collar folks don’t get and that’s your very own fairy tale in the making.

For Mitch McDeere it started like that. He loved his work, loved his wife, loved his home, basically he loved his life and himself to death. And death it was in the wings for him. As days pass, an uneasiness begins to creep in their minds but McDeere is so taken with his life, he hardly has the time to pay heed to such feeble nagging doubts.

Till Wayne Tarrane, special agent FBI comes along and plants some seeds of information that would make their feeble doubts grow into wild untamed weeds. With the bean stalk of doubt growing larger every day, Mitch does some digging about and opens a big can of worms that’s more trouble than is worth.

Trapped between the FBI and his outwardly calm but sinister employers, Mitch has to find a way to keep his and his wife’s life safe. What follows is a plot that keeps you turning pages.

Grisham is a gifted story-teller. He belongs to the school of writers who stuck to a linear narrative while weaving a complex web of turns and twists. His characters beseech you to empathise with them and, at the same time, marvel at their sheer audacity and genius in executing this con of cons.

It helps that Grisham himself practised law and has a knack for not going overboard with jargon.He is your ultimate racounteur of modern-day legal thrillers.

This is such a bestseller that there’s bound to be a copy of it at every and any bookstore. So, go grab your copy, take the day off and get hooked.

 

You can also read other reviews here.

Review: Roo Kickkick and the Big Bad Blimp

Roo KickKick and the Big Bad Blimp
Roo KickKick and the Big Bad Blimp- Ryan Gattis

This is one of the most twisted, unconventional novels I have ever come across.  The book covers the lives of the residents of Barguss, a small town in Western America. One of the characters is Roo Kickkick who gets beaten up by a bad guy and the bad guy and his friend meet their nasty end in an incident involving a runaway blimp. Hollywood finds this story good for a movie and thus you have the title of the book, and the movie being made in the book. Interesting, innit?

Narrated by an omniscient set of twins, the story runs at a breakneck speed, pausing for thrilling obstacles that only heighten the sense of this comic caper.

The story has amusing characters, with even weirder names that takes the craziness level of the book a notch higher; Like Thorpe Thorpe  and Thed Teldut who had an electric/acoustic band called Autistik/Artistik, which was originally named 6T by Thed and stood for Tee Tee Ta Tee Two Too or the Gee Street Girls of the popular local joint that called Taco Coleslaw Hamburger Hot Dog Apple. With a slew of such people and incidents, Gattis launches an avalanche of zaniness in his debut novel.

For anyone who likes a quick quirky read, this book is highly recommended.

Full review here.

Review: Angus, Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging (Confessions of Georgia Nicolson)

Angus Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging
Angus Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging- Louise Rennison

Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging: Confessions of Georgia Nicolson by Louise Rennison is your Bridget Jones Diary for the teenage girl. It’s a collection of random musings and ramblings of our teenage heroine Georgia who has a wildcat called Angus for a pet, a sister called Libby who loves wetting her bedstead religiously and a mother who seems too friendly with the handsome interior decorator while her father’s away in New Zealand. Georgia and her “Ace Gang” are your slightly sobered down Teenage Drama Queens, though it’s not for lack of trying. Their sole aim is to get a boyfriend and have a party at the coolest club in the town.

What saves this book from being a complete letdown is Rennison’s writing. A comedienne, her talent at tickling the funny bone shows. She makes the sorry old tales of a hormone filled teenager sound much more hilarious than they can possibly have the scope to be. You’ll be tut-tutting and shaking your head with exasperation and chuckling or smothering your laughs alternatively throughout the course of 160 pages. Though aimed as an YA novel, adults can also pick up this book and ask themselves if that is how they behaved when they were “young adults” aka teenagers and have a good laught about it.

Read it for Ms. Rennison’s noteworthy attempt to make a Bridget out of our teenage Georgie. I guess there are sequels in the making or are already there in the Young Adult novel-verse. But more of that, after you get through this journal of snarky confessions.

You can find the complete review here.