The Alphabet Killer

This is a review I’ve been meaning to write for a loo…ng time. I read Prachi Sharma’s The Alphabet Killer at least two months ago, but haven’t had a chance to sit and write a prachireview. First off, let me just say: writing crime thrillers is tough, and writing a good crime thriller even more so.

The book is the story of Mia Santos, a successful author and editor of an international feminist magazine. Someone is raping and killing the women she works with, one by one, and Mia’s getting taunted and tormented by someone who claims to be the killer, a killer from her own dark past. The book follows Mia’s life and what happens when she confronts the killer who’s adamant on exposing her past and ruining her life.

What I liked:

  • The story is believable. The characters aren’t too “embellished” as they often tend to be in fiction.
  • The plot is racy and manages to retain interest at almost every step.
  • The author invests enough time and effort in fleshing out her main characters and telling the reader why they are the way they are. A mark of a well fleshed-out character is that you feel as though you “know” the person, and Mia’s character definitely comes across that way.
  • The back story. I especially liked this bit, the history of Mia. For any character’s story to have a good foundation, his or her back story needs to have substance. I will not say any more than that!

What I didn’t like:

  • The editing could’ve been tighter.
  • Some things in the novel (to me) appear irrelevant, such as the fact that Mia is writing another novel. This would make sense only to those who’ve read the book and unfortunately I can’t explain more without giving away valuable matter.
  • The dialogue between Mia and Damien (a police officer she’s working with to solve the case) feels a little stilted at times.

In a nutshell, The Alphabet Killer is worth a read. I’d recommend it for the storytelling skill more than anything else.

Title: The Alphabet Killer
Author: Prachi Sharma
Publisher: Half Baked Beans
Price: Rs. 199
Get it here.

Closed Casket

When a rich, eccentric authoress Lady Athelinda Playford, names her dying secretary Joseph Scotcher as the new heir, pandemonium erupts. The same night, Scotcher is bludgeoned to death and who should be invited to solve the murder but the inimitable closedcasketHercule Poirot? In Closed Casket by Sophie Hannah, Agatha Christie’s beloved sleuth is assisted by Scotland Yard detective Edward Catchpool to single out the murderer from a pool of suspects, each of whom has motive and is equally suspicious.

What I liked:

  • It’s no mean feat to step into Christie’s shoes a second time, but Hannah does it with ease, as far as the plot goes. The characters are fleshed out with painstaking detail and she does a tremendous job of evoking the reader’s reaction towards each of them — whether it’s disgust for the Athie’s daughter Claudia, disdain for the son, Harry or pity for poor old Scotcher.
  • Despite the graveness of it all, Poirot’s humour, peppered here and there, keeps one entertained.

What I didn’t like:

  • In spite of piquing the reader’s curiosity to find out the murderer, the motive of the culprit leaves one feeling a bit ho-hum, even though the act itself is quite brilliant.

Is it face-paced? Yes. Intriguing? Definitely. Does it leave you sated? Not really. If you’re reading this for Poirot, it’ll most probably leave you wanting for a little more of the delightful, self-deprecating, trademark Poirot wit. Still, the acclaim Hannah’s received for this book is much-deserved.

Title: Closed Casket: A New Hercule Poirot Mystery
Author: Sophie Hannah
Publisher: Harper Collins
Price:  INR 200.00