Friday, 19 December 2014

Kane and Abel : Over-rated

Its time to bash Jeffrey Archer again (Jeffery Archer's fans, please don't read this. But I will give you this, I love to review his books!) Okay, here we go. War, politics, family business and family money...... There are other topics and genres too Jeffrey. Snap out of these for a change!

I am not even going to bother retracing the story. Cut to chase.

The doctor in the Russian camp helped only Abel to escape from the camp, giving his map, money, support, guidance and risking his life. The lady in the train helped Abel to escape again and considered him her son. Mr. Leroy, owner of the Richmond group of Hotels, gave away his 75% share of hotels to Abel before dying? He couldn't think of his daughter while generously giving away the hotels to a third person? And it was obvious that the Baron would bequeath his property along with the silver band on to Abel. And on seeing the silver band, the Englishmen stop Abel from being amputated. Why is everyone kissing his ass?

Abel wanted to avenge William Kane because William did not back him up during the 1929 crash? It is  silly. He had to save the bank, not be sentimental and support every customer he loaned out to. Even though Kane tried his best to back Abel and failed, it is ridiculous that they both have to cross roads like this! The vengeance was uncalled for. Abel was a business man too and he'd have done the same, given the situation.

Jeffrey Archer always uses the side cast to blow up the heroism of the main characters way too much. Like for instance, Mr.Curtis Frenton is terrified of Abel's interest in William Kane when actually he had no idea why Abel was inquiring about him. That girl with whom Abel goes out in the beginning, says to Abel that he can be a big shot but he has no clue as to how to deal with women, when in fact Abel was just a waiter!

And Abel won? The guy who cheated, chose the wrong path and avenged William Kane for no real reason actually won? I did not like the book for this very reason. Even though William Kane worked his way up to his cadre honestly, led a decent life with his wife and children, tried to back Abel up and in fact was his benefactor, he lost his position as the Chairman for being good and honest.

But apart from that most of the story was predictable. It was so easy to anticipate William's death when the author kept mentioning that he had to be home to meet and greet his son and daughter in law.

If there had been less of Abel and more of Florentyna's love interest in Richard Kane, the last few chapters at least would have been interesting. 

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Half Girlfriend: Bollywood material

***Spoiler Alert***

The story starts with Chetan and another person(the hero, probably played by Arjun Kapoor/Ranveer Singh in the future) and goes to a flashback as in most of his books. The hero, Mr. Madhav Jha, is a Bihari who is a state level basketball player, not to mention a Prince in his little village. He gets admitted to a famous high-class English medium college in Delhi where he meets the heroine, Ms. Riya Somani (probably Deepika Padukone/ Anushka Sharma) who is tall, fair and also a basketball player with great eyebrows! The hero's antennae pick up the heroine's great legs in her shorts and the love story begins. What is it with Chetan Bhagat and girls wearing shorts? I just don't get it.. Anyway, this heroine is not falling for college love and she agrees to be his "Half-girlfriend". Madhav has no other go but to accept it. They go out together, play basketball, she hosts her birthday party and they do other boring stuffs. He doesn't give up trying to get words out of her mouth. This goes on for a while, long enough to bore the readers, and then one day, oops! Madhav makes a mistake and Riya doesn't talk to him anymore. Same campus, not talking, showing faces, ignoring when the other person walks by, not wishing for birthdays... So childish. Kids in 3rd grade behave more matured than this!

On college day, Riya and Madhav make small talk again and Madhav tries to apologize. Riya is so generous out of the blue and says everything is fine and that she has to give him something. Now any dumbo would have taken the clue that she was going to give her wedding invitation to him. But our hero is not that sharp you see. He gets shocked, disappointed, heartbroken, lonely and miserable while Riya is off to London.

Next comes part II- In his village (yeah that was just the first part of the story). Here is where he actually emerges as a hero. He is crowned the Prince of Dumraon. He helps his mom run a school for the under privileged children. But they need funds to improve the infrastructure of the school. I know this part should move me but Chetan's way of mixing politics with his usual love story is not so successful. Not that I do not appreciate people digging into the darkness of India and trying to uplift the country by creating awareness but I feel Chetan Bhagat is overrated when it comes to motivating the youth. Because clearly he is doing it the wrong way. Dominating love story with a glimpse of a poor Bihar? We all know what the youth would concentrate on. And even if they do want to be motivated, the passion to take an initiative stays only for so long as the commercial mix up masala. This part was more of a complaint journal than an inspiring novel. I did not even enjoy his subtle sarcasm as there was hardly any. Chetan is losing it.

Madhav is informed by his local MLA that Bill Gates is visiting the village. Madhav decides to ask for funding for his school from Gates foundation. But he is supposed to make a convincing speech in English, his biggest fear and enemy. This is when Riya makes her entry again! They meet "accidentally", become friends again and she helps him with his English classes. And oh with a kiss too! She goes to his house to visit the school and to have his mother's famous litti-choka. The mother character is typical of Chetan. She is charming and caring until the guy brings the girl home. The minute the girl sets foot in her house, the mother character starts PMSing. After the speech for Mr. Bill Gates, Riya vanishes with a note saying she is suffering from cancer (apparently there is no other fatal incurable disease for heroes and heroines). Madhav is heartbroken again. He gets her journal from her landlord and gives it to Chetan Bhagat (I have no idea why). Chetan reveals the fact that she is still alive and it is the noble strategy of Madhav's mother to send Riya away for good.

Part III- With just a hunch that Riya might be in New York, he goes all the way across the globe to find her. Only after reaching there he realizes that people don't call it The Big apple for no reason. Dumb but apparently a very romantic move. After searching for two months and two weeks he gives up because he has only two more weeks in New York and he decides to go sight seeing. But that's not the reason. The hero has to give up, especially in the last few days, only then when the mission actually succeeds it will seem triumphant and lets admit it, its a happy moment for all of us. So yeah, he stumbles upon a local singer who gives information that "Ray" is singing in a local bar. And get this, he literally runs to the local bar from his place and finds his Riya with beautiful eyebrows again. Now that's her third entry in one bloody book! Ugh! They kiss and hug and all is well in the world again. The Prince and the Princess get back to Dumraon, Mother-Villain turns soft on getting a grandson (she has to otherwise the story won't end), the school is flourishing, Madhav and Riya visit the Big Apple for three months a year (Only limited period offer allotted for Heroine's dreams because they are not so important except for their shorts). Grandson plays basketball and Chetan inaugurates the school function. Happy ending!

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Jaya: Confounding

***Spoiler Alert***

"The Mahabharata is an ancient epic where:

A son renounces sex so that his old father can remarry: Bhishma
a daughter is a prize in an archery contest: Draupadi
a teacher demands half a kingdom as his tuition fee: Dronacharya
a student is turned away because of his caste: Ekalavya and Karna by Drona
a mother asks her sons to share a wife: Kunti
a father curses his son-in-law to be old and impotent: Shukra
a husband lets another man makes his wife pregnant: Pandu
a wife blindfolds herself to share her husband's blindness: Gandhari
a forest is destroyed for a new city: Khandava-Prastha
a family is divided over inheritance: Kuru clan
a king gambles away his kingdom: Yudhishtira
a queen is forced to serve as a maid: Draupadi and Sarmishtha
a man is stripped of his manhood for a year: Arjuna
a woman is publicly disrobed: Draupadi
a war is fought where all rules are broken: Kuru-kshetra war
a shift in sexuality secures victory: Shikhandi
the vanquished go to paradise: Kauravas
the victors lose their children: Pandavas
the earth is bathed in blood: Kuru-kshetra
God is cursed: Krishna by Gandhari
until wisdom prevails"

Although I admire this great epic to a great extent, I have a lot of pet peeves about the story.

First of all, Devapi was not allowed to ascend the throne as he had skin disease and therefore his younger brother Shantanu succeeded him. By the same law, if Dhritarashtra cannot take the throne because of his blindness, then Pandu also should not have been crowned the King for he was born pale and weak.
When Draupadi was disrobed, Bhishma and Drona were silent as the Kauravas did not go against any rules and no law was broken. So dharma was not disturbed hence they did not protest. But when Pandavas sent the sages to claim their territory back after their 13 years of exile, Duryodhana refused to it. Why didn't Bhishma and Drona speak up then? Clearly Duryodhana was going against dharma. Even when Krishna pointed out that it is adhrama to go back on one's words, Duryodhana did not cave.Why were Bhishma and Drona dumb then? This subjects the reader's mind to the suspicion that Bhisma and Drona might have in fact taken sides with the Kauravas, something which Bhishma should not have done on account of keeping up his oath.
How can Drona even consider killing Pandavas? They were the ones who restored his pride against Drupada and got himself half a kingdom, which is way luxurious for a priest's son.

There were so many other incidents that were unfair to Pandavas and even Kauravas at some point of time. Pandavas, though they fought for the right cause, to restore dharma, they chose the wrong path. They won mostly by deceiving and misleading. So they were doomed in hell. But even though Kauravas were selfish and greedy, they attained the heavenly bliss because they renounced hatred and were killed in the Holy land of Kuru-kshetra. All is fair in love and war but that rule is applicable only on earth I guess.


Krishna says in Bhagavat Gita that the world we perceive is a maya: a delusion, and life after moksha or mukthi is the real world. Considering for argument sake that this is true, if we were thrown into a fantasy world, is it smart to make the best out of it or to wait in the fantasy world to get to the real world without actually experiencing anything? Everything is maya, materialistic. Yes it is. But that raises a bigger question: Why create such a fantasy world then? Why create it with both good and bad? To teach humans the value of life? Seems a little silly.


The author has showed his rationalism in his little notes in between chapters, which had a totally different and logical perspective of the ambiguous incidents and in some other cases where the epic is trying to hide the embarrassing, socially non-acceptable events.


Anyway, the mystery of Mahabharata is solved. The difference between Jaya and Vijaya is made clear. Vijaya and Jaya mean the same: Victory. Vijaya is material victory. It earns you temporary place in either Swarga (heaven) after you attain moksha, or Naraga (hell), based on the merits and demerits you have committed in your mortal life on Earth. Swarga is where all your desires are fulfilled. Jaya is spiritual victory. You attain mukthi and ascend straight to Vaikunda, eternal paradise, where you are free of all desires.


How much of this is true? I suggest you read the book yourself to choose your path.

The Mistress of the Game: Not up to the mark

Tilly succeeded in bringing back Sidney Sheldon's characters alive but the characters were dancing for Tilly's tune and not Sidney's. If you want to be famous, write a sequel to a bestseller, don't go after the legend! Sidney Sheldon was and forever will be the master storyteller.

As for the characters, I'd like to start with Gabe. He is a drug addict, loser, criminal and a prisoner. When he is released and suspected for a fraudster again, the natural reaction would be to think he is guilty. But the detective who inquires the case believes in him even though he knows Gabe is an ex-con. Seriously? What was I reading? Sidney Sheldon's sequel or some self motivating crap? The characters were co-operative and lending a helping hand in every step of his. Dhai helps him in real estate business. His friend from "prison" (yeah that's right. People are very generous and kind) is financing him to start a real estate business from scratch. Tara agrees to marry him on a lousy second date. He works for AIDS charity. He hires a detective to spy on Lexi. Now that is purely Tilly not Sidney! This is not Jeffrey Archer's or James Rollins.. It is Sidney Sheldon's! It has to be thrilling, manipulative, evil cut throat competition. There was no room for warm sentiments in the Master of the Game nor should there be any in its sequel!

I am kind of disappointed to see how Robbie's character turned out. In The Master of the Game, the last scene goes like Kate getting tuned to manipulate her great grandson when she sees him at the Piano, waiting to build up a career as a Pianist and not as a Chairman in Kruger Brunt. I'd have least expected that sweet little aspiring pianist to be gay.

Lexi (Late Alexandra's daughter)is supposedly a wild cat (I don't see it) who is ambitious and righteous right from her childhood. Her moral values are crushed and her emotions are evidently shattered when she is kidnapped and raped as a child. But she doesn't let that or her deafness from the bomb blast affect her in anyway. She tracks down the rapist and kills him in the prison. She strides Kruger-Brunt office along side Max (Eve's son) and proves to be a prospective Chairwoman of the company. But the tide turns over when Max seduces her and lures her into bed (That's so gross because their mothers are twin sisters and they are cousins!). Anyway, their secret relationship and Max's sweet talks make Lexi believe in him. Max takes over as the chairmanship of Kruger-Brunt at the right time and Lexi is expelled. Now here is the part where the author's drawing comparison between Kate and Lexi has to ridiculed! Kate would have seen right through Max and his ruse, and she would would have out-witted him long before he could lay the trap for her. Lexi could not have been more of a puppy here. And she emerges back from ashes and builds her own company and loses it to win Kruger-Brunt back. While that is appreciated it is not really what one would expect from the Mistress of the game to short-sell her shares from Kruger-Brunt to rebuild the empire again. Lexi is definitely not the Mistress of Kate's game.

Max is just a lame pathetic despo and Eve is the puppet master. Eve is the only evil character but the credit goes to Sidney Sheldon as she is from Master of the game. The final touche with the letter even from her death bed, her intention to destroy everyone she blames for her misfortune was so like Eve.

I'd have rather preferred to read The Master of the Game again.

All that this book does is uplift Sidney Sheldon's fame and image. This book talks bad about Tilly Bagshawe: that she cannot be the Mistress storyteller.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Weeping for humanity

We all know that slums are very common and abundant in the third world countries. But do we know what makes a locality to be distinguished as slum? There are various factors involved in this apart from the fact that the people in those areas are really poor and uneducated.

For one, it is unclean and unhygienic. One of my friends, who is doing a course on Environmental Science happened to take up a project on Slum areas in Bangalore. Now I know what everyone thinks.  Slums in Bangalore? Impossible. But that is the cold truth. And what is worse? Those slums in Bangalore are generally tagged along a posh locality.







Initially, each family was given money by the Government to build their own houses. But most of them found the necessity to save the money and build a small house with no toilet. They did not feel that toilet and sewage system was an integral part of home. But we cannot stereotype slums on the whole. Every slum has its own characteristics. There are infrastructure complications like the way to the toilets is through the kitchen. But the Government cannot be blamed in every issue. Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.



Gandhi had once said that he wants independence later and clean India first. There are few NGOs like Sulabh Sanitation and Social Reform Movement which concentrate mainly on building and maintaining toilets in the under developed areas. They also train the public to learn to use these toilets. This helps not only to achieve the goal of clean India but also employs a lot of people to earn their living.

In most cases, the people are willing to compromise on sanitation as long as there are no adverse effects. They are ready to spend their money on television and cable bill rather than education and cleanliness. They are so culturally deprived that they are not willing to let the old people in their house to use their own toilets as they feel that they would dirty it since they don’t know how to use it. Due to this, the senior citizens in these localities use the public toilets, in turn causing unhealthy environment to live. The toilets constructed for children are primary spots for drinking and smoking and other illegal acts. And that rules out the kids’ chances of stepping into a decent life.


Where is the question of education and decent living when the possibility of basic necessities is hanging in the balance?

Friday, 4 July 2014

Veda

Prologue

“Dowry is not so common in our community”, said my perima, while biting into a piece of pizza we just bought.

“That is true. It is considered a shame to demand from the bride’s parents. Although there are some people who still ask according to their convenience”, my mother added.

We were reminiscing their childhood days over dinner. Perima had come over to our place for the weekend and we were enjoying the occasional pizza (occasional for them, as they hardly eat junk food) for dinner.
“Who asks for dowry? Is there anyone in our family who did?” I asked.

“Oh I don’t know. But your grandfather had to pay a huge sum to get his sister married. You see, back then, girls used to get married in their early teenage. It was a big deal to the family if a girl is 23 and unmarried”, said my perima.

“I thought granddad’s sister was married when she was eight!” I said.

“Not her. She was the elder one. She got married when she was eight. She left to her in-law’s place like a princess”, said my mom. “This is the younger sister we are talking about. She was 23 and she was still living in your grandfather’s house when your grandparents were married.”

Chapter 1

The year was 1921. A cute baby girl was born to Lakshmi and Gopalan in the village Poovambur. They named her Vedavalli. She was the second daughter, next to Kumudavalli. Lakshmi Gopalan gave birth to four more, komalavalli, Senkamalam, Srinivasan and Saroja, over the years.

Gopalan was an accountant who took care of the monthly expenses of the village. Being an accountant did not earn him enough to raise five children but the people in the village always gave the task to a Brahmin as they were considered to be good with numbers. Lakshmi managed to feed and educate her kids with the little money her husband brought home. She never complained about anything nor did Gopalan pave way for it.

Around the time Saroja was born, Lakshmi’s second cousin passed away from long illness and his children were fatherless at a very young age. Lakshmi and Gopalan offered consolation and help to the poor widow, Ranganayaki. Lakshmi and Gopalan took the responsibility of raising her children along side theirs.

Krishnamachari took after his late father and became the accountant in his town, Kadagambadi. He was tall, fair and handsome. He was working part time while studying P.U.C in the city, Madrasapattinam. He was a bright and a responsible young man. He was calculating the expenses of the village temple in the living room when his uncle Gopalan dropped in.

“Welcome uncle,” invited Chari, “please sit. I will call mother.”

Gopalan sat in the arm chair next to Chari’s table.

Rangnayaki came out of the kitchen and offered her greetings to Gopalan.

“Welcome, welcome. How are you? How is Lakshmi?” she asked.

“I am fine, thank you. She is fine. She asked me to pass this jar of pickle to you. She made this for you."

“Please tell her I said thanks. Let me bring you coffee.” She took the jar inside the kitchen.

“So, how are your studies coming along?” Gopalan asked Chari.

“It is going good, uncle. I have my final exams next month.”

“Prepare well. You are head of the family now. All the responsibilities are devolved upon you.”

“Yes uncle. I am preparing well. I am hoping to find a job as a radio technician here. Radio is very popular among the public now and there has to be someone to fix the thing when it fails.”

“Yes you are right. In fact, the owner of the radio shop in this town, Mr. Narayan, is an old friend of mine. I will talk to him into taking you as an apprentice. You can learn the work before you graduate and set up your own service.”

“Thank you uncle”, said Chari.

Ranganayaki came out of the kitchen with copper tumbler. “Here is your coffee.”

“I was just telling Chari that he could get a job as a radio technician with my friend Narayan, after he graduates”, said Gopalan, drinking coffee from the tumbler. “I will sponsor for him and send him to Bombay to learn Radio mechanics engineering. It is a one month course. It will be very useful for him in the future.”

“I don’t know how to thank you for all the help you have done”, she said. “Ever since my husband’s death, Lakshmi and you have been a pillar to my family.”

“Oh come now. Don’t be so formal. We did what we could. It is our duty. We cannot stand by and see you struggle.” He finished his coffee and gave the tumbler to her.

Chari changed the topic, “Uncle, I am sorry but I have to take leave. I have to explain the profit and loss to the temple manager. Please have your lunch here. I will be back soon.” He took his papers with him. “Ma, I am going to the temple. I will be back in an hour.”

“Go safe.”
“How is your elder daughter, Kumuda? Is her in-law treating her well?” enquired Ranganayaki.

“She is fine. Actually, I came here to talk to you about my second daughter Veda. Lakshmi and I thought we could….”

“What is it?”

“We were wondering if you would marry off Krishnamachari to our daughter Vedavalli.”

Ranganayaki was silent. “Why are you hesitating? Don’t you like the alliance?” asked Gopalan.

“No. It is not that. I was thinking of marrying him to your younger daughter Senkamalam. Since Chari is fair, I thought Senkamalam would be a good match for him.”

“Looks don’t matter. I am sure Veda will be a perfect match for him. She is very patient, homely and cooks very well.”

“All right. If you say so”, she accepted.

“Good. I cannot give her a lot of money/jewelry. As you know, I am not paid that well. But I will send her off with a grand wedding that I assure you.”

“No problem at all. You have done a lot for our family. It is my turn to pay my gratitude in some way.”

“Well, then its settled. Bring some sugar to mark this alliance”, Gopalan said happily.

Ranganayaki brought a piece of barfi (sweet) and gave him. She packed some sweet to give to his children.

“I am leaving home. I have to tell this good news to Lakshmi”, he said.

“Have lunch. Chari should be back in a while.”

“That’s fine. I will see him soon, won’t I? My friend is leaving the town and he said he’d give me ride in his bullock cart. I don’t want to keep him waiting. Give my regards to your children.”

“Sure. Give my best to Lakshmi”, she saw him off at the entrance.

Gopalan entered his house when Veda was bathing the cow in the backyard.

“Lakshmi!”, “Lakshmi!” he called out. “Where are you?”

Lakshmi came out of the kitchen with a tumbler of water. Gopalan drank it. “How was the journey”, she asked.

“It was smooth. Guess what happened? I spoke to Ranganayaki about the marriage and she accepted to take Veda as her daughter-in-law.”

Lakshmi was very elated. “When can we have the wedding ceremony?” she asked curiously.

“First thing after Krishnamachari graduates”, he said.

Veda was informed of this wedding that night. Hailing from an orthodox Brahmin family, she was not asked for her opinion. It was never the girl’s decision. But she did not mind. She lived for this very reason: to get married and serve her husband. She was short for a fifteen year old; slim with a skin tone of coffee bean. She was stopped from schooling after fifth grade like any other girl in the village and helped her mother in the household work. She took good care of the house after Kumuda was married. She woke up early every morning, decorated the entrance with kolam (Rangoli), drew water from the well for her parents to bathe, cleaned the kitchen, bathed the cows, washed the clothes and did the dishes. This was her routine and she liked performing these, day in and day out. She learned cooking and she excelled in it.

The day Krishnamachari graduated, word got out that he was going to be married to Veda from Poovambur. Ranganayaki, although she gave her consent, was not completely happy with a daughter-in-law without money. She felt she was obligated to marry her son to Gopalan’s daughter for all the favours he had done during her grievance. So she did not accept to attend the wedding.

“Uncle supported my education, raised me in his house, sponsored for my radio engineering and got me a job. I don’t care whether the girl is bringing money or not, whether she is fair or not. I owe him a lot. I am doing this for him. My word is final”, Chari boldly faced his mother. Ranganayaki did not attend the wedding.

Wedding arrangements were made in Poovambur and the day was decided. The wedding celebrations took place for ten days. Friends and relatives gathered to enjoy the special occasion, thoroughly.  

On the first day, the bride’s relatives helped to prepare the bakshanam (food items mostly sweets and spices). The second day, on Friday, Sumngali prarthana was done to ensure long married life to the bride. Then there was nalangu: the belief was that the bride’s life would be as colorful as the turmeric and mehendi applied on her. The engagement happened on the fourth day. Then there was janvasam, where the groom was invited by the girl’s side. The sixth day was Bramachariya Bhojanam (What we call Bachelor party), the groom took his last meal as a bachelor with his friends.

The actual marriage took place on the seventh day: an auspicious day, with relatives’ blessings, Arundhati star witnessing, after the Kasi yatra drama, Krishnamachari tied the knots and Veda was married for eternity. The wedding food was enormous with all the delicacies. The eighth day was allocated for Grahapravesam, where the girl walked in to her husband’s house for the first time. The newly married couple was given fruits and milk. The next day there was nalangu again but for both of them where they would play games and tease each other.

The last day was Agni Hotram. A homam (fire ritual) is built and a small lamp is lit from it. Veda carried the lamp and stepped into her new house with lots of hopes and dreams to be a happy family. Her parents bid her goodbye and she was sent to her in-laws’ house, with loads of memories, farewell tears and love.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

A Prisoner of Birth: Never Again!

***Spoiler Alert***

You have got to be kidding me! I know that Jeffery  Archer went to prison and that he is a politician, but is he capable of writing about anything else? Same old layout.. The protagonist (Danny Cartwright) goes to prison for a crime he did not commit, his fiance: whom he is supposed to marry in a few weeks, is pregnant, he gets the best of the cellmates, one of them teaches him dining etiquette because lets face it, the hero HAS to know how to use a fork and a knife.. And here  is the biggie.. He changes his identity (conveniently), inherits a big chunk of property which is not his to begin with.. sounds familiar? yes, same as Clifton Chronicles (I know Clifton Chronicles were published after this book). And this one is three books in one bloody long book! It is acceptable to copy the others' in your own (like he took the idea from Sidney Sheldon's 'The doomsday conspiracy' for his 'The Eleventh Commandment' book) but it is not cool to copy your own and keep publishing books with just different titles! The author didn't even bother to go for new names. A character named "Hugo" is trying to keep all the money for himself and "Hugo" obviously has a spy. Even the choice of words were the same. There were a few phrases which the author often uses in most of his books. Its mundane.

There were just way too many implausible depictions. For instance, Danny passes off as Nick when Nick is murdered and escapes from the prison even before he completes his sentence. He does so just because he looks a bit like Nick and happens to wear Nick's ring and chain. Its like how actors can pass off as another person in movies, just by wearing a mole on their cheek.. LOL.. Anyway, it looks like the character Nick was created and killed just to teach Danny dining etiquette and to help him escape prison. And nobody, not even Danny, cared to investigate what really happened to Nick in the shower. Another unbelievable point is how Alex Redmayne is ready to defend Danny in the court even when Danny is bankrupt. Needless to say, he comes in handy when Danny is arrested for impersonating Sir Nicolas Moncrieff and escaping the prison under false pretenses. I am really interested to know which lawyer charges free of cost to defend someone for their lifetime just because he thinks his client is innocent. Even Mr. Fraser Munro, who has served the Moncrieff family for 3 generations is ready to help a former mechanic without charging him. I wonder how a dignified and a professional man like Fraser Munro, who has been faithful to the Moncrieff family for years, does not a feel even a little disgusted about the fact that he was deceived by an impostor! At the end, Arnold Pearson, the ferocious advocate who was prosecuting against Danny in his murder trial, is pleased to take Danny side.

The long boring narration moves at a very rapid pace in the last 5 chapters. It is such a quick end that it seems like even the author got bored of writing and couldn't wait to finish the book. Although I really did admire Sir Matthew Redmayne's witty repartee, the author had tried too hard make us adore Sir Matthew by establishing his character as a cool expert who thinks and works with his eyes closed and by asserting his rivalry with the Judge, Mr. Hackett. And no wonder he is more than ready to be a junior to his own son after retiring as judge, to defend Danny Cartwright in the end.

All the stars were set on Danny's side. The supporting cast was set to aide Danny in any misery. The stage was set for Danny Cartwright to steal the show.

I liked only two things about the books: the first page with the catchy title (I almost fell for that!) and the last line with Larry Davenport saying "guilty", because I was relieved that the story came to an end!

I have half a mind to give up on this author. If Jeffery Archer continues at this rate, I am sure he will be the only prisoner of his books.