Saturday, September 27, 2008

Much Ado about Nothing

I just finished Ian Rankin’s The Naming of the Dead. It was my first Inspector Rebus crime novel, and regretfully, it will be my last. This much hyped about character is mentioned with reverence in the British newspapers and websites and, I am sorry to say, I was let down by DI Rebus. I want my money back.

The story is set in Edinburgh and, much to my delight, during the G8 meeting in July 2005. Now it so happens that I, with my family, was haunting the streets of Edinburgh in the last week of June 2005, and we escaped just before the security clamp down preceding the G8 meet. So lots of streets, and locations, came flooding back to me nostalgically. I even checked out wikimapia to refresh my memory, and to locate the novel’s more important locations. But apart from this serendipitous timing, there is little to say about the book. I want my money back.

The story line is extremely light, and demands the reader be excited about local events and personalities. Just because the G8 meet is thrown in the background to artificially set a stage , does not make the storyline any more gripping. It is not what a crime novel needs to be - a page turner. It lacks in tight narrative, and refuses to seize the reader with anticipation. The chapters stagger into one another, and some of the characters are just plan redundant e.g. Siobhan’s (for God’s sake) parents. Not only are they the most uninteresting couple I have ever read about, any attempt to make them interesting by thrusting a hippie look on them just does not work. There are a myriad of dubious characters, and DI Rebus seems to have an ambivalent attitude towards them. For instance, the chapter in which Rebus is forced by the goon, Cafferty to visit a local politician’s speech comes through as a iffy kind of thing; Rebus did not want to go, but he went, because he was forced to and the story demanded it, and in any case we need to fill out fifty pages, so that the buyer can get his money’s worth. Utter crap. The author churned out this book to sell to the gullible British people who just love DI Rebus. I don’t and I want my money back.

I will not bother to reveal who the killer is. Or maybe I should. It will save the readers money in case they are thinking or buying this book. Aww! Forget it. Just pass this book.

Did you know that J.K. Rowling , as a struggling artist, wrote the first Harry Potter book in a café, The Elephant House, in Edinburgh? We went and had coffee there, and the girls just loved it.

Odds and Ends

A map of South Delhi taken from Fanshawe’s book shows Delhi early 1900s. Interesting stuff. Notice Lado Sarai in the middle, and a few water bodies one does not see now.

Delhi Chronicles

The Whiff of Autumn

September 22 was the autumn equinox. Happy Equinox! When I got up and went to the garden for a cup of tea, I could smell the weather change. The temperature is down a bit, and one is glad to see the summer off. Although this year the summer was mild; in fact milder than I have ever experienced in Delhi. It is a delight to see the autumn come on us suddenly. Unlike in the west where the autumn creeps in gradually, it is an epiphanic change here. The leaves do not change color here, but the trees and the shrubs are greener than ever. The ennui of the summer and the mess of the rains seems to be forgotten in this moment. The atmosphere takes on pleasant hues, and one feels much invigorated. Long drives are a definite thing to do now. If only, the traffic jams sorted themselves out!

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