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Book Nook - 28-08-2017

Monday, August 28, 2017
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

The Gruesome Killer
The Chicago police have their work cut out as a bizarre serial killer has been at work for five years, leaving no trace behind.  JD Barker’s The Four Monkey Killer is gory in the extreme, and not for the faint of heart.

He kidnaps young female victims, to torture and chop up; following the Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Speak No Evil principle, he sends the victims’ families their ears, eyes and tongues, which he cuts when they are still alive and adding a fourth rule of Do No Evil, leaves their mutilated bodies for the police to find. It turns out that a member of the victims’ family had committed a crime, and the killer has taken it on himself to punish them by killing their child. The cops have named him the four monkey killer or 4MK.

Detective Sam Porter is woken up one morning by his partner Brian Nash, because a man has been run over by a bus, and he was carrying an ear in a white box tied with a black sting, just like the one 4MK uses. The dead man just might be the killer they have been hunting for. His latest victim, Emory, might still be alive and they have to find her before she dies. She is the hidden illegitimate daughter of a rich, powerful and unscrupulous businessman, Arthur Talbot, which makes her 4MK’s target.

Porter finds a diary in the dead man’s pocket, in which he has written about his own childhood and his psychopathic parents. The chapters of the book then intersperse the search for the killer with Emory’s struggles in a dark, rat-infested room, and the diary of the killer which is truly stomach-churning, the way his parents torture and kill a man; in the midst of it all, Porter’s wife is killed in a store burglary gone wrong.

For a tiny bit of humour, there’s a rookie CSI man called Watson, whom Porter calls Doctor and he protests that he isn’t one. Porter sighs about people not reading any more (or Watson would have got the Sherlock Holmes reference).

The book is a perverse take on the vigilante theme, the killer believes he is fighting evil, but his methods are horrific. Since the next book The Fifth To Die has been announced at the end of this book, it would be no spoiler to say that 4MK isn’t done yet.
The Fourth Monkey
By JD Barker
Pages: 416

Excerpt of The Fourth Monkey
There it was again, that incessant ping. I turned the ringer off. Why am I hearing text notifications? Why am I hearing anything?

Apple’s gone to shit without Steve Jobs.

Sam Porter rolled to his right, his hand blindly groping for the phone on the nightstand.

His alarm clock crashed to the floor with a thunk unique to cheap electronics from China.

“Fuck me.”

When his fingers found the phone, he wrestled the device from the charging cable and brought it to his face, squinting at the small, bright screen.

CALL ME — 911.

A text from Nash.

Porter looked over at his wife’s side of the bed, empty except for a note — Went to get milk, be back soon.

xoxo, Heather. He grunted and again glanced at his phone. 6:15 a.m.

So much for a quiet morning.

Porter sat up and dialed his partner.

He answered on the second ring.


“Hey, Nash.”

The other man fell silent for a moment. “I’m sorry, Porter. I debated whether or not to contact you. Must have dialed your number a dozen times and couldn’t bring
myself to actually place the call. I finally decided it would be best just to text you. Give you a chance to ignore me, you know?”

“It’s fine, Nash. What have you got?”

Another pause. “You’ll want to see for yourself.”

“See what?” “There’s been an accident.”

Porter rubbed his temple.

“An accident? We’re Homicide. Why would we respond to an accident?”

“You’ve gotta trust me on this. You’ll want to see it,” Nash told him again. There was an edge to his voice. Porter sighed. “Where?”

“Near Hyde Park, off Fifty-Fifth. I just texted you the address.”

His phone pinged loudly in his ear, and he jerked it away from his head. Fucking iPhone.

He looked down at the screen, noted the address, and went back to the call.

“I can be there in about thirty minutes. Will that work?” “Yeah,” Nash replied. “We’re not going anywhere soon.” Porter disconnected the call and eased his legs off the side of the bed, listening to the various pops and creaks his tired fifty-two-year old body made in protest. The sun had begun its ascent, and light peeked in from between the closed blinds of the bedroom window. Funny how quiet and gloomy the apartment felt without Heather around.

Went to get milk. From the hardwood floor his alarm clock blinked up at him with a cracked face displaying characters no longer resembling numbers. Today was going to be one of those days.

There had been a lot of those days lately.

Porter emerged from the apartment ten minutes later dressed in his Sunday best—a rumpled navy suit he’d bought off the rack at Men’s Wearhouse nearly a decade earlier—and made his way down the four flights of stairs to the cramped lobby of his building. He stopped at the mailboxes, pulled out his cell phone, and punched in his wife’s phone number. You’ve reached the phone of Heather Porter. Since this is voice mail, I most likely saw your name on caller ID and decided I most certainly did not wish to speak to you. If you’re willing to pay tribute in the form of chocolate cake or other assorted offerings of dietary delight, text me the details and I’ll reconsider your position in my social roster and possibly get back to you later. If you’re a salesperson trying to get me to switch carriers, you might as well hang up now. AT&T owns me for at least another year. All others, please leave a message. Keep in mind my loving husband is a cop with anger issues, and he carries a large gun. Porter smiled. Her voice always made him smile. “Hey, Button. It’s just me. Nash called. There’s something going on near Hyde Park; I’m meeting him down there. I’ll give you a call later when I know what time I’ll be home.” He added, “Oh, and I think there’s something wrong with our alarm clock.”

He dropped the phone into his pocket and pushed through the door, the brisk Chicago air reminding him that fall was preparing to step aside for winter.

Indian students would know that 33 % is the passing percentage in exams,  lower than that and it’s ‘fail.’ Jitendra Jain’s book, set in Assam evoke nostalgia about those school years. Says the synopsis, ““Did you hate the Board exams too? Yes, that struggle was REAL!

Two sixteen-year-old boys are all set to take on their board exams. Set in the lush greenery of the 1990's Assam, this walk down the nostalgic lane is replete with references to the teenage years of any kid, tongue-in-cheek humor and laugh-out-loud moments. The narrative transports you to your own teenage years as you look back fondly reminisce on your own journey. The boys are different - average in science and maths, but with their own equations for life, spirited yet sensitive, with a thousand questions and sassy answers. Rendered through the eyes of a young lad who couldn't be bothered by the rat race, Chasing the dreaded 33% is sure to leave you smiling and laughing your gut out with the writer's wry sense of humor!

This book is a beautiful reminder that life is far more than just numbers that are ascribed to you after testing your memory against unfair standards.”

Chasing 33 %
By Jitendra Jain
Pulisher: Notion Press
Pages: 190

Excerpt of Chasing 33%
I used to find Science very boring. On top of that, we had a very funny looking teacher. His name was Anirudh. Swadhin and I used to call him 17 paise. Why did we call him 17 paise? Well, only Swadhin and I knew the answer. The day we christened him 17 paise, we decided that the first person, other than us, to know the reason would be 17 paise himself. He knew that we used to call him 17 paise but he didn’t know why.

17 paise didn’t have hair on his head, but had too much hair in the wrong places. He resembled a human version of a black bear. 17 paise knew that most of the students and even some of the teachers called him Black Bear behind his back. Once during a class on scientific names, I asked him what the scientific name of a black bear was. I was asked to kneel down for 30 minutes. To be very honest, it was less painful than attending the Black Bear’s class. Unlike real black bears, this Black Bear liked attacking Swadhin and me. Attending Science class was the worst form of human torture. I always thought of asking the teacher if he had ever studied Science in his life. Only those who want to be an engineer or a doctor should be made to tolerate the tortures of such Science teachers, else, schools should have good-looking Science teachers.

Nishant Kaushik’s book is a moving and relatable tale of an ordinary man, a single father, coping with the crisis in his daughter’s life. According to the synopsis, “Vaibhav Kulkarni has had few accomplishments worth boasting about in his modest life and career. Yet, his happy universe lies intact in the love and pride his ten-year-old daughter inspires in him. Nisha Kulkarni justifies every reason to be the favourite child of Pune’s premier school-be it her academic brilliance, her exceptional facility with music, or simply her unassuming charm. With his daughter showing promising signs of a stellar success story, Vaibhav has made peace with own unrequited dreams of the past. But when the girl mysteriously starts losing mojo and spirals into despair and seclusion, Vaibhav faces the toughest test of his life as single father - to reclaim his child’s trust and happiness. What distance will a middle-class man with limited means go to show his daughter the merit in believing in a dream? Read this gripping tale of love, courage, and of the emergence of an ordinary man as an extraordinary hero.”

My Father Is A Hero
By: Nishant Kaushik
Publisher: Srishti
Pages: 199

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