Darkus Knightley is a young Sherlock Holmes. He is thirteen years old, prefers to be non-sociable and yet, is always unfailingly polite in his few interactions. He has a steel-trap for a mind and is blessed with amazing deductive skills. And yes, he has a fondness for tweed.
There you go, a young Sherlock Holmes.
He is also the son of the legendary Alan Knightley. Alan was once a top London Private Investigator. He handled baffling cases for an obscure branch of Scotland Yard and was a formidable force in both, the detective and criminal worlds. But matters started unraveling, Knightley Sr. had an “episode” and slipped into a coma.
Young Darkus adores his father and keeps a silent vigil over his dad’s comatose body at the hospital. Alan had meticulously transcribed the details of all his cases into a hard drive and Darkus now spends his free time poring over them and memorizing every single detail. But suddenly, after four years, Alan awakens and it appears that Knightley and Son are back in business.
And dangerous business it is. There’s a bestselling self-help book that is compelling people to commit heinous crimes. There’s a powerful secret organization that has it’s tentacles spread all over London. There are car chases, illusionists and conspiracy theories.
Will Alan and his son solve the mystery, their first as a father-son sleuthing team?
All that and more in the first instalment of Knightley and Son .
The first outing of the Knightleys is an engaging tale with engaging characters. The story is a blend of three of my favourite aspects : A Sherlock Holmes style of deduction + London as a foggy, mysterious backdrop + a hero who steadily grows on the reader. I picked up this book because I was suffering from BBC Sherlock withdrawal pangs. While I didn’t get an arrogant and delightfully ruffled up Benedict Cumberbatch playing to my heart-strings, Darkus Knightley effectively channelled Holmes’ spirit.
Darkus’ relationship with his father (perhaps the only time that he displays a flicker of vulnerability) is handled in a touching yet mature fashion. His banter with his intelligent and slightly deviant stepsister (special shout-out for Tilly here) plays out well in the time-honoured Sherlock-Watson tradition. Throw in a garrulous, shell-suit wearing stepfather, a massive stranger from Scotland Yard’s Department of the Unexplained and a stoic Polish woman who can wield a frying pan with alacrity and the scene is well and truly set for a juicy detective drama.
The mystery itself moves sluggishly at first but speeds up with some delicious twists and smatterings of hushed up theories. Throw in a dash of the supernatural and the reader is hooked till the end.
The first instalment of Knightley & Son is a good taste of things to come.
Dexter Yates can charm London’s glitzy birds off the trees. He is young, handsome, successful and loaded with charm. The only person who has a place in his heart is his lovely elder sister, Laura. And now, by default, his brand-new baby niece, Delphi.
Molly Hayes is a comfortably successful comic-strip artist who leads a quiet life in the village of Briarwood. She is blonde, funny, blessed with the quintessential heart of gold and burdened with the ability to always pick the wrong man.
Dexter’s fast-paced life makes an abrupt U-Turn when his sister dies and leaves him with the guardianship of eight-month old Delphi. Leaving London’s unsavoury aspects behind, Dexter moves to Briarwood to raise Delphi in a more secure environment. He also acquires a friend in his supportive neighbour, Molly. As he goes through the joys and pangs of enforced fatherhood, Dexter has Molly and a host of Briarwoods’ colourful inhabitants providing help, entertainment and a general sense of community and belonging.
Jill Mansell’s fictional worlds are worlds that I would love to inhabit. She fills them stereotypical Brit characters who promptly go ahead and break down said stereotypes. She gives you a rakishly likeable hero and a quirkily average heroine. Dexter is a cheeky city-boy. Molly is the quip-happy village artist .
Predictable character profiles? Yes?
Readable? My God, yes.
Dexter and Molly’s chemistry sizzles gently. They take you down the will-they, won’t-they path and make your heart give a melancholic thump when you see them seeming to drift apart. Add the adorable Delphi to the equation and it has comforting chick-lit written all over it.
Nicely buffering the main lead along are a bunch of people who provide enough fodder for the local gossip-vine. They have their own stories to tell. There’s romance, betrayal, long-forgotten hope, faith and humour sewn into every supplementary tale and you never want to gloss over them just to get back to Dexter and Molly.
An absolutely wonderful rom-com from the ever-reliable Jill Mansell.
SETTING : New York
A more precise SETTING : The Hopewell hotel on the Upper East Side. Family-run, the art deco hotel personified Jazz Age New York glamour. Sadly, all it personifies today is a pitiable lack of funds and staff.
HEROINE : Just turned fifteen Scarlett Martin. Scarlett is a fairly grounded teenager who helps her family keep the Hopewell in working condition. She has a closet dream of being a writer and a more urgent dream of not being flat broke. Scarlett has also been given the responsibility of handling the Empire Suite which is the jewel in the crown of Hopewell.
a) Spencer Martin : Scarlett’s tall, lean and endearingly crazy big brother. The king of physical comedy, Spencer, like thousands of other New York hopefuls, is a talented young struggling actor waiting for that one big and obviously elusive break.
b) Lola Martin : Scarlett’s blonde, beautiful and surprisingly non-vicious elder sister. Lola is perfect in every way. Kind, pretty, family-oriented, fun-loving and hardworking. AND she has the obscenely wealthy (but also, rather daft) boyfriend who showers her with obscenely wealthy gifts. Lola could be quite the nauseating b**** if she wanted to. But she isn’t.
a) Marlene Martin : Scarlett’s younger sister. Remember when I mentioned that the Martin family seemed to be peppered with perfectly well-behaved siblings. Yeah, no. There’s Marlene. Marlene is a recovery cancer patient. And she makes sure that nobody ever forgets it. She loves Lola (and her rich boyfriend), barely acknowledges Spencer’s presence and actively loathes Scarlett.
CONFLICT: Scarlett faces a hot, humid and friendless summer in the most energetic city in the world. She has also been informed by her parents that the family is flat broke. If a sudden and much needed miracle doesn’t drop into the Martin homestead, Scarlett has to be uncomfortably resigned to a bleak and uncertain future.
MUCH-NEED-MIRACLE (or is she?) : Enter Mrs. Amberson. Rich, eccentric, pilates-toned Mrs.Amberson is the new unexpected guest at The Hopewell. She has the Empire Suite and thus, by default, she has Scarlett. Scarlett to order, infuriate and generally frustrate. Will Mrs. Amberson be the answer to Scarlett’s woes? Or will she compound them?
REVIEW: Suite Scarlett is a cozy, snazzy and comfortable read. It has no mind-bending highs or boring lows. The story trudges along at a sprightly pace. The protagonist is likeable, efficient and basically good-natured. She cares for her family and has the greatest bond with her brother, Spencer. That’s what I liked best about the book. Scarlett and Spencer are a witty, winsome pair. They bounce inside jokes against each other, are privy to each other’s deepest hopes and disappointments and have a healthy relationship. The sibling bond never borders on being intrusive and almost always, brings a smile to the reader’s face. I adored Spencer. He is the kind of whimsical and yet quietly supportive brother that every young girl deserves.
I didn’t much care for Scarlett’s love life. Despite being the kind of multi-faceted individual that Scarlett was, her taste proved to be too mainstream and predictable. The exchanges were trite and lacked a true spark.
Mrs.Amberson was supposed to be the bright yet brittle ray of hope. She had her moments, complete with her tales about life in old time New York as a struggling actor. Her affinity for Japanese plums and herbal teas, her ability to fling money around like confetti and her rather radical and at times alarming plots and solutions make for a well-etched character. As she steers Scarlett along on a mad journey of self-discovery, I oscillated between actively loathing her and quietly willing her to save the day.
The book is nicely fleshed out. The Martin family dynamics are the author’s strongest strength. You actually understand where each sibling is coming from and the pace and character-development never jars. Another interesting side-story was the backstage chaos and excitement of putting together a bold and new production of Hamlet. The author wields a confident writing style. She manages to walk the tightrope between ending the book on a satisfactory note and yet, leaving enough loose ends to make you anticipate the sequel.
A stress-busting summer read.
March 25 is Tolkien Reading Day.
The date was chosen in honour of the fall of Sauron, in Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Today, in Middle-Earth, The Ring was destroyed.
The aim of this day is to encourage the reading of the works of J. R. R. Tolkien, and the use of Tolkien’s works in education and library groups.
(Image Source : Pinterest.com)
I came across this beautiful passage on the net (I wish I knew who wrote it because I love you, you amazingly spot-on and articulate person!!!). So obviously, I had to superimpose it on Benny’s beautiful face.
S-igh, just look at those laugh lines. His face is wreathed in smiles.
I have a newly acquired quirk. As I browse through the detective shelf at my local bookstore and come across the neatly lined up spines of SHERLOCK HOLMES’ many many adventures, I must, I absolutely must pluck them out just to view the artwork on the cover.
Blame it on Benedict. Benedict Cumberbatch.
And so, when I came across a bright orange spine of His Last Bow , I pulled it out and lo!….there were my two favourite BBC men, Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, giving me their combination sultry "put-your-eyes-back-in-your-head-, you-silly-girl" stares.
What a fabulous marketing move.
So obviously, my first reaction is this:
followed by an immediate purchase.
I bought Benny home. Yes, I am a member of the dubiously titled “Cumber Collective”.
Accept it. I have.
But I digress. (damn you, Cumberbatch and your cliff-hanger cheekbones)
A little bit about the book : HIS LAST BOW is a series of seven previously published Sherlock Holmes stories commencing with the adventure of Wistaria Lodge and concluding with the startlingly stylish “His Last Bow”. Along the way, Sherlock and his trusty companion Dr. Watson will deal with a yellow-devil, ponder over the unsavoury gift of a pair of cut-off ears, track down a perpetrator of fifty murders, outwit an obnoxious toad at his own poisonous game, save a beautiful single lady from an assuredly sticky end, be temporarily befuddled by the Devil’s deeds and ultimately return from a self-appointed exile to do the country a sizeable favour.
And now, back to my gushings.
It is singularly impossible for me to separate Arthur Conan Doyle’s hero from Benedict Cumberbatch. I have loved the detective at 221B Baker Street as a child, much before BBC decide to do the world a favour and fling a beautifully gaunt man with impeccable cheekbones and high-functioning sociopath written all over his wiry frame into our midst. But today, I reread it with Benedict’s Sherlock and Freeman’s Watson strongly and indelibly imprinted in my mind. And it just makes the book so much better.
Doyle’s mysteries are works of art. And he keeps up the slick penmanship in this set of stories. The language is crisp and loaded with wry British asides. The descriptions of the characters, their fallacies, Sherlock's deductions, Watson's frustrations,Lestrade's impotent dependency and wheeeeee, it’s Mark Gatiss!!!, sorry Mycroft making an appearance are all satisfyingly covered. The pace never wavers and while the old-fashioned adventures may seem a tad staid for the modern readers, the charm is firmly in place.
My favourite story is most definitely “The Last Bow”. A supposedly retired Sherlock who has taken up beekeeping in the Sussex Downs has been recalled by the powers that be. Rather than a murder mystery, it’s a spy story. Set at the start of the First World War, it encapsulates Sherlock’s attention to detail, his skill as a master of disguises and his reunion with his loyal mate, Watson.
And the crowning bit is that uncharacteristically poetic and patriotic passage voiced by our prosaic Sherlock
With flair and style, our beloved detective takes his legendary Last Bow.
(SOURCE : http://sempaiko.deviantart.com/art/sherlolly-322827104)
QUEEN opens up with a quintessential small-town Sangeet scene. A full-bodied “London Thumakda” breaks out in full Punjabi gusto and aunties are dancing with abandon, uncles are grumbling over wedding arrangements and a mother looks on with a teary-eyed smile as her about-to-be-hitched daughter, Rani Mehra (Kangana Ranaut) (fondly titled Queen by her prat of a fiancé, Vijay) dances with stars in her eyes. This scene sets the pace for the movie.
The situation promptly unravels as simpleton Queen learns that her much-adored fiancé is not interested in marrying her after all. And he breaks this *news-flash* one day before the wedding. Shell-shocked Queen is a mental mess. But she’s also wondering about that longed- for European honeymoon. So, rather than being pitied and molly-coddled by her family, she decides to go on a honeymoon. Alone.
And thus begins Queen’s journey of self-discovery. With a promiscuous but golden-hearted girl, a rather hot Italian restaurateur, the friendship of three endearing blokes and a series of culture shocks…Queen is literally on the trip of a lifetime.
I love a good ‘small-town girl- (preferably the bodacious Punjabi kudi)-conquers-the-world' story that is handled with heart and loads of laughs. And QUEEN is just that. While Queen's journey is reminiscent of Shashi's sojourn in English Vinglish, the minute Queen disembarks AirFrance, she carves her own trail. Queen is a Halwai’s fresh-faced daughter who is quite content with the fact that she will soon settle down to a life of marital bliss with Vijay Dhingra. But what happens when Mr.Dhingra decides that Queen doesn’t match up to his newly acquired “foreign-returned” status?
As Queen defiantly heads off on her singleton honeymoon, she first encounters the scarily sexy Vijayalaxmi (Sultry Lisa Haydon, she of the killer-legs-to-armpits school of modelesque wild-childs).
As she bonds with Vijayalaxmi who insists that Queen calls her Vijay (which is quite a Rachel Greenesque kick-you-in-the-crotch, spit-on-your-neck-fantastic coincidence), the former discovers the liberating bond of non-judgmental friendship.
And then, bolstered by Vijayalaxmi’s confidence, she proceeds to Amsterdam and learns that she is sharing a hostel room with three men of differing nationalities. Panic-attacks-galore. But soon, Queen begins yet another memorable friendship tour.
As the three blokes support, rib and banter with Queen….the sheltered Queen discovers that life isn’t as cut and dried as it was meant to be. Throw in a volatile yet sexy Italian and you have a glorious melting pot of cultures, laughs, high-octane-fun and the forging of lifelong bonds.
(P.S. I fell completely and utterly in love with the Russian roommate, Olik. And yes, I googled the hell outta him. He was utterly. And also completely…)
And one more screencap of Mish Boyko (yes, that’s his name) just.for.me:
QUEEN was a wonderful film to watch on Women’s Day. And especially so with a woman who is an endearing, kind and witty friend. The film is a beautiful blend of spot-on -dialogue, Indianisms that make us cringe and yet, happily associate with, perfectly restrained acting on Kangana’s part and a setting that is a beautiful blend of Paris’ sunlit charms and Amsterdam’s sensuous (bordering on sleazy) temptations.
I want to watch this movie with the rest of my lady-friends, with my mum, with the female members of my extended family and with an unrealistic twist of mind, with every high-on-guts and higher-on-self-doubt lady that I have met in my life.
VERDICT: I have never been a huge Kangana Ranaut fan. But this role defies even the most anti-Kangana souls to not fall utterly and completely in love with her portrayal of a girl who can conquer it all.
Beautiful, heartwhole and rather charming.