August 8, 2008

Mysteries: Sujata Massey’s “The Pearl Diver” and Nury Vittachi’s “The Feng Shui Detective”

Posted in Books tagged , , , , , at 10:57 am by myrlinn

I was with my friend last weekend, and turns out she’s been reading a lot recently. And she talked about how much she loves mystery stories like Agatha Christie’s series. She likes them for their cleverness. I read a lot of them at one point, probably because it was exciting trying to figure out the end before you come to the end.  Today, I remember her stories more for the colourful characters Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot. Hmmm… maybe I need to reread some of her books.

Anyway, back to the point of this post:  My friend’s remarks must have been on my mind when I visited the library this week. I don’t think it was a coincidence that in my browsing, I picked up a mystery novel (which I hadn’t been reading much of lately, being more fascinated with scifi in the past months). It was by author I’d never read, much less heard of.  But the blurb sold me on it – the half-Japanese, half-American main protagonist, and the promise of background details of Japan.

And I must say was pleasantly surprised! Sujata Massey’s The Pearl Diver makes for a really fun read, and moves along at a good pace. She’s no Agatha Christie in terms of the sophistication of her plot. But she more than makes up for it with her believable contemporary characters, and the fairly convincing details of Japanese culture and food. She’s probably the first mystery writer I’ve really enjoyed in quite a while (from what I remember, my last obsession was Dick Francis — loved the details of the horse racing world).

Talking about mysteries with elements from eastern cultures, I remember enjoying Nury Vittachi’s  The Feng Shui Detective probably a couple of years ago. The main character is a feng shui master who gets drawn into various mysteries, and solves them.  Not amazing, but definitely enjoyable! Funny (in a slapstick kind of way), and it makes for a nice change of pace from the usual mystery stories to find a main character that’s a feng shui expert. And since I’m currently living in Singapore, the fact that it’s set here is another plus point.

As an aside: I used to love mystery novels when I was younger, but in recent years, I’ve been more drawn to TV dramas when it comes to mysteries. I love CSI, for example. Not in an obsessive manner, but I do usually enjoy it. Strange, though. Last night, I happened to watch an episode of CSI Miami, and I found it strangely dissatisfying — a man who’s allergic to the sun and becomes so crazed that he becomes a killer? So lame! But I guess after so many seasons, that’s to be expected.

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