Saturday, October 22, 2016

The Greek Coffin Mystery by Ellery Queen

Image result for the greek coffin mysteryAn eminent art dealer is dead. his family and friends have gathered in his NY home to share their grief. The dead man possessed a large estate and an art gallery, he bequeathed his temporal belongings through a will. Now the will has gone missing! Its Chaos at the dead man's house, the lawyer who was supposed to read out the will panics and orders everyone to stay put. The Police are called and they search the entire house, family and the guests, but there is no sign of the will. Where did the will go? Enter the master of deduction, Ellery Queen.

Ellery is the son of NY city Police Inspector Richard Queen. Ellery is a brilliant, high brow amateur detective, who likes to quote Shakespeare and wears a prince nez. He also has trouble concealing his own hubris. Ellery takes up the problem of the missing will and deduces that there is no place that the will could be hidden except in the dead man's coffin. The Police decide to take up Ellery's suggestion and dig up the grave, they find much more than they bargained for. Alongside the dead body of the art dealer they don't find the will but they find something much more sinister, another dead body! Two dead bodies in one coffin. How could this be? Everyone saw the one body in the coffin, and then they say the coffin being lowered in the crypt. Who is this 'new' dead man? and how did he get in the Art dealer's coffin?

Elley has his task cut out for him in a mystery which would make him famous and this book a classic in the genre.


Sunday, October 16, 2016

Alter Egos by Mark Landler

Image result for alter egos book markAlter Egos takes us inside the foreign policy of Barack Obama, his relationship with his secretary of state Hillary Clinton, and their different world views. My interest in the fractured relationship between Obama and Clinton piqued when I read the controversial book by Edward Klein "The Blood Feud", which basically comes down to representing Obamas and Clintons as two warring clans engaged in a perpetual power struggle over control of the the Oval office and the Democratic party.

The relationship between the most powerful man and the most powerful woman in the world forms the backdrop of this book, while you also get to learn why Obama's administration did different things in different places around the world. The book keeps it's focus on the foreign policy of the Obama Administration and Clinton's role as secretary of state in it.

Obama is the outsider, he moved outside America when he was little, and spent his formative years in SE Asia. He looks at the US as the global policeman and has a similar views on China, living in tiny nations like Malaysia and Indonesia provided him with a unique prospective on hegemonic states. Obama learnt that states like China, USA and Russia are feared and hated by the rest of the world. He wanted to change that perception, his foreign policy indicated/indicates his world view. Obama reached out to Cuba, struck a nuclear deal with Iran, reached out to several smaller nation in SE Asia which are threatened by the communist oligarchy of China, and pulled out troops from Iraq believing that US has no right to interfere in foreign lands. Obama was not always the dove, he did authorize dozens of strikes in Pakistan, took out the Libyan dictator Gaddafi and sent Bin Laden packing.