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Book Nook - 05-03-2018

Monday, March 05, 2018
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

Case Of The Night Shift
Michael Connelly has already created characters like LA cop Harry Bosch and his smart, brash half brother, Mickey Haller, better known as the Lincoln Lawyer (who had a movie made on him, starring Matthew McConaughey). In spite of all these books being bestsellers, the writer felt impelled to introduce a new character, a female one at that.

Detective Renée Ballard is young, smart, tough, and all kinds of terrific. The first book starring her is The Late Show, the police department’s name for the night shift, which nobody really wants to do. She was dumped there when she complained of sexual harassment by a superior and her partner, Ken Chastain, failed to back her up.  She carries this resentment to her new post, with her dull but loyal new partner John Jenkins, who would rather sit in his office and do paperwork than chase after criminals. But Ballard is straining at the leash, because officers on the graveyard shift have to jut write up reports and hand over cases to day cops on the beat. And she is too dedicated to the force to want to be a gloried clerk.

The book is set in Southern California, where homeless Ballard lives on the beach in a tent, paddling when she has the time and hanging out with her dog, Lola.  Ballard grew up in Hawaii, her father drowned, her mother disowned her, so the only living relative is her grandmother, Tutu.

Even though she is not meant to follow up on crimes, Ballard does not let go, whether it is a credit card theft that leads to a bigger scam, or the case of a cross-dresser who has been savagely beaten and left for dead. The same eventful night, there are five people killed in a nightclub shootout. So Ballard puts a lot on her plate in the breathtakingly fast paced book; she is also kidnapped and tortured, but she solves everything.

Connelly won’t let go of a heroine like that after just one book, so readers will definitely get more of Renee Ballard and hopefully she will head a movie franchise too.  Such a kickass female, who can fight as well as she can tongue lash, is made for showbiz.

Interestingly, Mumbai features in the book in credit card call centre sequences, with a man called Irfan Khan, and the coroner is an Indian woman called Jayalaithaa Panneerselvam—now where did Connelly find  names like that!
The Late Show
By Michael Connelly
Publisher: Little, Brown; Pages: 400

Excerpt of The Late Show
Ballard and Jenkins rolled up on the house on El Centro shortly before midnight. It was the first call of the shift. There was already a patrol cruiser at the curb out front and Ballard recognized the two blue suiters standing on the front porch of the bungalow with a gray-haired woman in a bathrobe. John Stanley was the shift’s senior lead officer — the street boss — and his partner was Jacob Ross.

“I think this one’s yours,” Jenkins said.

They had found in their two-year partnership that Ballard was the better of the two at working with female victims. It wasn’t that Jenkins was an ogre but Ballard was more understanding of the emotions of female victims. The opposite was true when they rolled up on a case with a male victim.
“Roger that,” Ballard said.

They got out of the car and headed toward the lighted porch. Ballard carried her rover in her hand. As they went up the three steps, Stanley introduced them to the woman. Her name was Leslie Anne Lantana and she was seventy-seven years old. Ballard didn’t think there was going to be much for them to do here. Most burglaries amounted to a report, maybe a call for the fingerprint car to come by if they got lucky and saw some indication that the thief had touched surfaces from which latent prints were likely to be pulled.

“Mrs. Lantana got a fraud alert e-mail tonight saying someone attempted to charge a purchase on Amazon to her credit card,” Stanley said.

“But it wasn’t you,” Ballard said to Mrs. Lantana, stating the obvious.

“No, it was on the card I keep for emergencies and I never use it online,” Lantana said. “That’s why the purchase was flagged. I use a different card for Amazon.”

“Okay,” Ballard said. “Did you call the credit card company?”

“First I went to check on the card to see if I’d lost it, and I found my wallet was missing from my purse. It’s been stolen.”

“Any idea where or when it was stolen?”

“I went to Ralphs for my groceries yesterday, so I know I had my wallet then. After that I came home and I haven’t gone out.”

“Did you use a credit card to pay?”

“No, cash. I always pay cash at Ralphs. But I did pull out my Ralphs card to get the savings.”

“Do you think you could’ve left your wallet at Ralphs? Maybe at the cash register when you pulled out the card?”

“No, I don’t think so. I’m very careful about my things. My wallet and my purse. And I’m not senile.”

“I didn’t mean to suggest that, ma’am. I’m just asking questions.”

For youngsters looking for work experience and maybe adventure, Aniket Singh’s book is a handy guide. According to the summary, “Intern Abroad This Summer will show you how to travel the world as a student intern this summer. Whether you dreamed to travel to Europe, USA or Australia, you will learn how to do so as a student !! Most students don’t realize that a foreign internship is the best way to travel the world, to make your resume stand out, to land a dream job, and make career advancing connections. This is because they are unaware of how to find paid foreign internships in a foreign country. And even if they do know, they do not bother applying, believing the field to be too crowded. In Intern Abroad This Summer Aniket Singh will show you a step-by-step process of landing that dream foreign internship. Aniket Singh is an alumnus of IIT Madras and works for Apple in Cupertino, California.”
Intern Abroad This Summer
By Aniket Singh
Publisher: Notion Press
Pages: 118

Pradeep Gulati’s Facets is about, “A young escort in Phuket who has closed her heart to love… A wife, who is forced into prostitution by her husband, endeavours to escape as a stowaway on a ship… A man whose self-destructive infatuation towards a Bollywood star ruins many lives… An unorthodox love between an Indian and a coloured girl from the apartheid-ridden South Africa… A speech therapist who makes a differently-abled boy’s dream a reality… A young boy who tries to understand the social stigma attached to rape… A seafarer in England who is saved from disaster on a treacherous night by a mysterious woman… An unassuming man who ends his life, but does not forget his wedding vows even at the moment of death…How will you react to these characters?

“Facets is an intriguing collection of fourteen irresistible short stories that look at various aspects of human relationships. Cleverly drawn from everyday characters and incidents from various parts of the world, these ingeniously plotted story lines have unexpected emotions and twists.”
By Pradeep Gulati
Publisher: Notion Press
Pages: 224

The synopsis of another novel by Pradeep Gulati states, “Life is not meant to be a brief candle, but a flaming torch; however, sometime, the flame dies... This sums up Victor and Anju’s story. Shy, awkward, introverted Victor Sood is the butt of many jokes and pranks from his high school friends, especially when he falls in love with his friend’s next door neighbour, pretty Anju. Fun-loving, confident, extroverted Anju loves to be the one playing the pranks. He is around sixteen, she is around fourteen. Both are on the threshold of adolescence, and opposite in temperament. It is 1975. There are no mobile phones, internet or even an easy access to telephony. There are no satellite channels, and TV is one channel a few hours a day, with movie once per week. Victor gives Anju access to his collection of comic-books, through a common friend, and gradually gains access to her heart. Time moves on. Victor embarks upon a career at sea while Anju migrates to London after High School. Their plans for the future are coming together beautifully, when fate strikes... This is a heart-warming tale of young love.”
A Brief Candle
By Pradeep Gulati
Publisher: Notion Press
Pages: 165

Old Detective, New Tricks
Hieronymus 'Harry' Bosch, the jazz-loving hero of twenty Michael Connelly books, does not retire when he officially retires from the LA police force. He is asked to help with cold cases, and he merrily sets up office in a disused jail cell in the San Fernando Police Department.

His thirty-year career is rocked when he is accused by death row prisoner, Preston Borders, rapist and murderer of three of having framed him back in 1988. Now, new evidence using advanced DNA techniques prove his innocence. If Borders’s lawyer, Lance Cronyn, can prove that, Bosch will be in deep trouble. He finds that even his former partner Lucia Soto is suspicious, though she is willing to do what she can to help him.

While he worries about this, he is also called on to help solve the double murder of a pharmacist José Esquivel Sr. and his son.  These murders are linked to a huge drugs racket, run by an East European syndicate, in which homeless old people are used as mules.  For the first time in his life, Bosch goes undercover to investigate and risks his life.

Bur importantly, he must clear his name and win again the respect of his daughter Maddie.  And who should come charging to help but Mickey Haller, whose investigative skills and courtroom theatrics make for an exciting climax.  This one is easily one of Connelly’s best.
Two Kinds Of Truth
By Michael Connelly
Publisher: Little, Brown
Pages: 400


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