Do you think people stop talking once they are dead? Then let this book change your mind. Here are four terrifying stories drawn from real-life events. Four supernatural tales about college days in India. Four surreal narratives that will twist their way into your nightmares. Two girls investigate screams coming from a ‘suicide room’ in an old hostel… A college bully pulls off a bizarre prank involving human parts… A sensitive introvert feels haunted on a long walk after midnight… A young Indian consultant gets a spooky welcome to New York City… Hold on to your seats and get ready for a ride to the strange, dark edges of reality. Let’s hope that you make it back. After all, a book is one of the oldest ways for the dead to talk to the living.
Rating: 3 out of 5.
I’m a bit disappointed because I’d expected to be creeped out by these stories.
The common theme is how the dead make themselves heard/felt by the living. The author doesn’t just narrate the story, she also includes some interesting commentary. This made it refreshing to read them.
Except for the last one, “A Room for Two”, which revolves around a mysterious room in New York city, I would not consider the stories terrifying at all. Just interesting–the way true crime stories are.
“Playtime” ends beautifully, giving us an empathetic look into the world of spirits. I think it is the best of the lot.
The longish length of the stories, closer to novella-length, made me impatient instead of building up the suspense/horror factor. I felt that a more terrifying effect could have been achieved with fewer words. Some details could have been edited out.
Chandrima’s language is polished and her sentences flow beautifully. There’s a literary quality to it–it isn’t written in popular fiction style.
Nevertheless, the stories didn’t have the punch that I’d expected. They were too tame for me.
The Detective Diaries presents the most sensational post-Independence cases of Kolkata Police, the oldest police commissionerate in Asia.
Writer Supratim Sarkar, a serving additional commissioner of Kolkata Police, captures the different aspects of criminal investigation in a style that is rare among India’s true-crime writers. Starting from 1948 and coming right down to 2010, every case is a trendsetter, either owing to the nature of the crime, or the manner in which it was solved. From cold-blooded, psychopathic murderers to those who killed purely for money, from crimes of passion to conmen who made masterful use of technology, the selection is as varied as it is fascinating.
No matter what the context, each crime made headlines. The man who mercilessly killed his pregnant wife, or the killer who wiped out his entire family, are as easily identifiable as the man who decided that big ticket robberies is the path to happiness. The highlight of the book is a case that caught the attention of the nation—the stoneman murders of 1989, a series of killings that terrorized Kolkata for months, and gave rise to an entire pantheon of urban legends. For the first time, this book presents the police version of this unsolved case.
A glimpse into Kolkata’s dark underbelly, guided by an author whose job takes him there every day, this book will shock and amaze in equal measure.
I suspect the Bengali version packs a greater punch, but this translated work is endlessly fascinating–though in a macabre way. All the cases, except the last one, deal with murder and each reveals the extent to which men and women can go to satisfy greed or bloodlust.
I would not recommend reading this book at night (as I did) because it tends to make you paranoid.
The author narrates the cases in an interesting mixed manner. He gives us a third-person account of the events and throws in relevant information on criminology, interrogation methods, theory vs. practical experience of catching criminals, and so on.
Frequently, he draws a comparison between fact and fiction (movies, novels) and explains how sometimes fact is indeed stranger than fiction. Startling coincidences do occur. But, for the most part, the work of a detective is not as exciting or smooth as we read in Feluda or Byomkesh Bakshi novels. Some cases, like the Stoneman murders, are never solved.
Also, the pressure created by the media on the police and the detectives to solve cases as quickly as possible is an aspect I hadn’t thought about. Constant comparisons to Scotland Yard are brought out to ridicule the police on their supposed inefficiency and ineptitude.
I am not familiar with any of the cases except for the last one, which occurred in 2010. Many cases happened before mobile phones became popular in India. The author explains the painstaking method in which detectives verified alibis before mobile tower locations could be used to determine one’s location.
The 2010 case was about credit card skimming. At the time this theft occurred, cybercrime was an emerging area of crime and the police had no idea how to go about it. I was able to appreciate the immense effort and patience it takes to catch clever criminals, especially when the crime is digital.
And lastly, I learned how despite having enough evidence, criminals may walk free if there are loopholes in the chargesheet. In honoring the tenet of “innocent until proven guilty,” sometimes the guilty escape due to lack of legally admissible evidence or even biased judges.
It’s not a fair world and I have developed a fresh appreciation for the work that the police have to do.
Genre: True Crime, Non-fiction
Title: The Detective Diaries: Eleven Sensational Cases of Kolkata Police
I heard about Suhasini’s book on Twitter, describing all the things her young son got up to during the lockdown due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. I understand Blogchatter was instrumental in helping her release the book.
Many, many congratulations, Suhasini! 🙂
Genre: Children’s Books
Age level: 4-11 years
Grade level: K-4
Length: 25 pages
Publication date: July 28, 2020
Format: Kindle e-book
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Rating: 4 out of 5.
The stories in this book were endearing and a little heartbreaking at the same time. I say heartbreaking because it feels so cruel to confine a young child at home, especially one who loves to explore and observe everything around him.
I have a young child, too, so I know exactly what a struggle it has been to keep children engaged at home while attending to housework and office work.
Shravanth is an enterprising seven-year-old, who is fascinated by space and its objects and finds different ways to keep himself entertained. Apart from his parents, his grandparents also feature in some stories. They impart wisdom and keep him connected to his roots through stories about history, science, and mythology. His pet dog and best friend, Johnny, also makes a sweet appearance in “Johnny’s anger.”
My favorite stories were “Shrav and Black Hole” and “Buddy or Monster?”
It was amazing to see how Shrav creates a whirlpool at home and compares its action to that of a black hole. I’m going to borrow the idea of using play-doh to recreate the Milky Way galaxy for my own child. Also, Shrav’s grandfather narrates an interesting mention of black holes in the Ramayana.
“Buddy or Monster” addresses a dilemma we all face nowadays–how much screen time is okay? Finding a balance between using technology to learn and entertain is an ever-going battle. Again, Shrav’s grandfather tells him a story about how gadgets are tools and it is up to us to use them wisely.
What I loved most about these stories was that I could relate to the language, the characters, and the events fully. It felt like I was reading about my own family.
Shravanth has a vivid imagination, an inquisitive mind, and a zeal to try out new things. I’m sure you’re going to enjoy reading about his experiments, his thought process, and his adventures!
International Lockdown has taken a toll on everyone including the Children. Playing with friends and socialising is an integral part of any child’s development. But, with this lockdown, we are removing the simple pleasures of socialising in the life of a child’s life. But the ever-active child and his imaginations can’t be bound by a Lockdown.
This book captures how an ever-active Shravanth tries to spend his time during the lockdown. How he tries to be in touch with his friends and School? This half fiction, half real life incidents borrowed from Shravanth’s life will keep you entertained and will give you a glimpse into a Child’s World.
Over the last two months, I discovered the magic of Debeshi Gooptu’s short stories. She writes in a simple and polished manner, with detailed descriptions that bring the scenes alive. It makes me wish I could express myself so well.
I want to share mini-reviews of four of her short stories. It is difficult to write reviews of short stories because writing too much gives the plot away (I made that mistake!). I’ll only say what I liked about each story and leave you to find out more. All four stories are available on Kindle Unlimited.
The Pickpocket [https://amzn.to/2HTMsT1]
Rating: 4 out of 5.
As is evident from the title, the story is about a pickpocket doing what he does best. But then the story takes an unexpected turn for the better. I can’t honestly say I liked the twist because I was expecting something much more dramatic. It felt a bit anticlimactic to me. Nevertheless, let this not deter you from reading this sweet, endearing story about the finer emotions in life.
The Red Thread [https://amzn.to/2TextZ5]
Rating: 4 out of 5.
In the current political climate of India, I’d say this story touches a chord. Heartbreaking, sorrowful love story. I wish people had more empathy for their fellow human beings! This is not an easy read, but it is altogether realistic.
Prince Charming [https://amzn.to/2TchFpX]
Rating: 5 out of 5.
I read this book last month, but the story still gives me goosebumps. The possibilities laid out in the tale are horrific. Not saying any more–just that I loved this story. Paced just right, I got an impending sense of doom, which culminated in a horrific truth.
The Candle Stand [https://amzn.to/2HThN8r]
Rating: 5 out of 5.
This is her most recently published story. Sensitive, accurate portrayal of bereavement and the tender love of a father. Is there life after death? Read to find out!
Munshiganj is a quaint town with a rich historical background. It’s biggest attraction has been a temple and mosque co-existing within the same premises along with the tomb of Nawab Rehamat Khan. Recently though, the peace of this little town has been affected by the paranormal – the temple bell rings by itself daily at midnight. Raya Ray, an ex-marketing honcho had been dealing with loss when a chance to help her Banker husband, Krishanu, marked her debut as a private investigator. Detective Raya Ray lands in Munshiganj in response to a call for help from Sharmila – the sister of her house- help Sutapa. Sharmila suspects foul play when the doctors at the town hospital tell her she delivered a stillborn child and detective Ray steps in to assist.
Raya steps into a field of landmines after the body of Dr. Sonam Misra from the same hospital is discovered on the deck of a steamer and she chances upon a secret safeguarded for ages inside the temple. With the help of local rickshaw puller Habul, Raya starts unraveling the mystery, unaware of the danger lurking over her as a pair of blue eyes trail her every move.
As she puts the pieces together, detective Ray realizes that nothing and no one are what they appear to be.
I heard about the book from the author’s tweets, and I knew I had to read this one because I love detective novels. Plus, she is the winner of the Literoma Rising Star Award 2019 for Best Debut Author!
Chatterjee’s detective is Bengali, female, carries a firearm (and is not afraid to wield it), and is also well-versed in martial arts. She is also sensitive, generous, and emotional apart from being sharp-witted. In my opinion, this is a cracker of a combination.
Her style of writing reminds me of Satyajit Ray’s Feluda novels in English. Hallmarks of her writing: clean prose, simple language, and a leisurely pace which picks up at times to convey danger and describe violence.
She also shares interesting nuggets of history, and explores themes of communal harmony, hospital administration, and paranormal activity throughout the book.
Her heroine is feisty and brave while also simultaneously being vulnerable and too trusting.
The mystery unfolds neatly and gradually, helping to develop all the characters adequately, and leaving subtle clues for the reader. All the loose ends are properly tied up–but there’s still a bonus mystery at the end for us to relish!
The storyline is not unnecessarily complex, and brings together the past and the present without confusing the reader.
Dialogues are believable and snappy, and help keep the pace of the story going. As a debut novella, it is a superlative effort.
I’m looking forward to reading more Raya Ray novels!
(I accessed the book through a Kindle Unlimited subscription.)