July 13th, 2016


Book Critique 2016 – 04/28/2016: Murder, She Wrote #43: Killer In The Kitchen

Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here.
For review of all books under Murder, She Wrote series: Go here.

Stars: 3 / 5
Recommendation: If you want an easy and quick murder mystery pick it up and you will enjoy it.

Killer In The Kitchen is the 43rd installment in the series that Donald Bain had written based off of the Universal Television Series Murder, She Wrote and was published in April of 2015. The plot is set in our very own Cabot Cove, where Jessica Fletcher resides. And of course there would be a murder. :)

Jessica Fletcher's good friend Isabel Fowler's son Bradley Fowler and his wife Marcie Fowler are opening up a new seafood restaurant called Fin and Claw in Cabot Cove by the docks. Despite the rough and short-tempered nature of Brad, they manage to complete the construction and open the restaurant as planned - although Isabel ends up taking a personal loan and also remortgage her home for helping Brad and Marcie financially. Now Gerard Leboeuf, famed French Chef with a suite of restaurants under his banner, also decides to open a French Bistro right opposite to where Fin and Claw is opening.

Tensions rise between Leboeuf and the Fowlers when Leboeuf tries to capture the market and gradually close doors for Fowlers. Despite that the Fowlers have their grand opening and Gerard Leboeuf comes with an entourage to the restaurant - his wife Eva, his son Wylie, manager of his new restaurants Chef Walter Chang, and two other folks who looked like bodyguards. Leboeuf and his entourage were not particularly nice to the Fowlers or their staff or the food that was served - infact they were quite loud with their unwise and wrong comments as well as obnoxious. And one such comment hurts Isabel so much that she suffers a stroke and loses her life that night. Brad's animosity and vehemence increases further more.

A week after the Fowlers had their restaurant open, Leboeuf opened his restaurant with taking up everyone's tab for that night. The event was in much more extravagant way than what the Fowlers did. Leboeuf didn’t pull any stops to make his event grander than anything every happened in Cabot Cove. All was thought it ended well until Jessica receives an early morning call that Gerard Leboeuf is murdered with a knife in his chest in his new kitchen at the French Bistro. Sheriff Mort Metzger and his deputies take over the scene immediately. However by afternoon two detectives - Detective Clifford Mason and Detective Anne Lucas - from the Major Crimes Unit from the Attorney General's Homicide Unit also get involved in the investigation, considering the high-profile that Gerard Leboeuf warranted. And their investigation is zoning in on the obvious suspect - Brad Fowler - just because of the animosity between them and the vehemence that Brad had publicly shown towards Leboeuf.

But Jessica doesn’t believe that despite the volcanic temper of Brad, he could never be a killer. And to help the spirit of Isabel Fowler calm down, she inserts herself into the investigation - much to the chagrin of Mort and the Detectives. She has her own set of questions that she is looking to get answers which will perhaps put the spot light on others who have a better motive than Brad Fowler. As always her investigation leads into the dark past of Leboeuf, his ties with drugs and underground and other unsavory stuff that eventually gets the real killer out.

A medium complex plot that did keep you interested enough to continue. More than often the books in this series, I could guess on who the killer would be, but in this case I couldn’t point till the last minute - well when Jessica was about to reveal. That in itself intrigues me in a book. However the story is written in the form of three parts although the story flew thru the parts seamlessly. Didn’t understand why the story was put in the form of three parts - perhaps to divide it into Murder, Investigation and Result. However, I wonder what was the author's thought. I remember reading a few books of other authors who had a similar tendency for some of their books. Some books made sense and some didn’t just like this one

All in all another cozy mystery - easy on the brain and simple at heart. Pick it up for that smooth ride you want in a book.

Movie Critique 2016 – 04/29/2016: Now You See Me

Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a movie review.
Prologue: Go here.

Stars: 4.5 / 5
Recommendation: If you like movies based on heist and also magic, then this is the perfect movie with a balance of both.

Now You See Me is a hit 2013 American heist thriller movie involving heist, magic and thrill. After watching Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice I was curious to see what other movies did Jesse Eisenberg - portrayed as Lex Luthor in the Batman Vs Superman 2016 movie - had been in. His fast paced speech almost bordering on stuttering with the crazy look made me think he must have been more in the anti-hero roles. Indeed he had been in many thrillers but what surprised me was his portrayal of Mark Zuckerberg in the 2010 hit American film The Social Network - although I hadnt watched that movie either. I zeroed in on this movie after I heard about its sequel being made (which is now released already - I am way behind in my posts. **Sigh**) and also that the 2013 hit Hindi thriller Dhoom 3 ( = Blast 3) is loosely based on this film. Dhoom 3 released 7 months after Now You See Me released. So, finally I watch it and here is my take on the movie.

J. Daniel Atlas: What is magic? Magic is deception, but deception designed to delight, to entertain, to inspire. It is about belief. Faith.
Henley Reeves: Trust.

Thaddeus Bradley: When a magician waves his hand and says, "This is where the magic is happening." The real trick is happening somewhere else. Misdirection.

One day, four amateur magicians, J. Daniel "Danny" Atlas (portrayed by Jesse Eisenberg) - arrogant illusionist and street magician, Merritt McKinney (portrayed by Woody Harrelson) - a hypnotist and a mentalist), Henley Reeves (portrayed by Isla Fisher) - a stage magician, and Jack Wilder (portrayed by Dave Franco) - another street magician and impressionist of other people's voices  - receive each a Tarot Card with an address in New York City and time to meet. Danny is given The Lover tarot card, Merritt gets The Hermit, Isla gets The High Priestess and Dave gets The Death.

A year later all four of them perform their first major performance as The Four Horsemen at Las Vegas funded by Arthur Tressler (portrayed by Sir Michael Caine). In this show they magically transport an audience member to the vault of the bank he uses, the Crédit Républicain in Paris and in front of everyone's eyes gets the money drawn from the vault and into the arena where the show is being performed and shower it on the audience. And the vault in Paris is shown empty with two items left there - ticket stub of the audience member from that night's show and a 2 of Hearts card with the signature of the audience member.

FBI agent Dylan Rhodes (portrayed by Mark Ruffalo) and a French Interpol agent Alma Dray (portrayed by Mélanie Laurent) are assigned to hunt and capture The Four Horsemen. FBI and Interpol believes that they are not magicians but plain con-men who have use illusion to perform an elaborate heist. They are assisted by Agent Fuller (portrayed by Michael Kelly) and Thaddeus Bradley (portrayed by Morgan Freeman) - a former magician himself but now unravels the tricks humiliating the magicians in the process. The hunt begins where FBI is on the heels of these magicians while they continue their performances, conducting heists and being more than a step ahead of FBI.

A very nail-biting movie that keeps you on the edge till the end. Combination of illusion, magic and heist with the added element of revenge. With so many unanticipated twists and sudden turns the movie keeps you well engaged. Excellent CGI and Cinematography. When we think that one is the avant-grade of the four horsemen someone else turns out. Who is the fifth horsemen who is running this elaborate show? Why don’t they keep the money they rob? What is the benefit of giving it away? The thought runs through your head all the while and capturing you to the screen. Another heist movie that goes into my collection of DVDs. Its on Youtube so go ahead and click that link to have a fun 2 and half hours.

Spoiler Alerts:

1. Big Names In the movie are seen - Morgan Freeman and Sir Michael Caine - although rest are up and coming actors and have marked a small star beside these big stars.
2. Alma Dray: Supposedly if you buy into it, The Eye are the keepers of real magic and protectors of those who practice it.
3. The end credits have a break in between with a small scene of the four horsemen. Perhaps it would be a continuation into the sequel. Since I have not watched the second part I only have to guess.