Kitty in rome-an encounter with history

Kitty Hawk and the Mystery of the Masterpieces (Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency #5)Kitty Hawk and the Mystery of the Masterpieces by Iain Reading
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

And then a portion of the wall cracked open-and before anybody has a chance to have a good look at the escaping figure-dressed all black-rushed towards the front door.
Everyone presented in the room were shocked but the sudden turn of the events-but Charlie –smarter than anybody- tried to get an upper hand over the escaping figure-
However the mysterious figure was too quick to respond-what Charlie was able to do was to hit kitty and both of them made all others present in the room off balance.
Chaos everywhere and the figure left the room –safe and sound!
But the door of mystery was left wide open- mystery that is far deeper than the Mariana trench.
Inside the small secret space- there is nothing but a radio receiver, a table and a chair.
And suddenly a mechanical robotic sound starts to emit some meaningless words…….
Meaningless, are they?
Kitty Hawk and the Mystery of Masterpieces-by Iain Reading is the fifth book in the Kitty Hawk flying detective agency series is the breathtaking experience of young Kitty in the backdrop of art theft. It is an absorbing tale of international art collections and art smuggling, spying secrets, coded messages –all amid the backdrop of history.
It all started after Kitty left Ireland-involved in a successful treasure hunt-challenging and threatening and arrived in Rome. After all, all road leads to Rome. Here she has a reunion with Charlie-with whom she has an encounter with her first adventure involving another treasure hunt. It is like a rendezvous with history for the young detective-walking through the avenue of memory-memory of gladiators, memory of Cesar’s chariot returning to Rome after triumph-and it is where her next case is presented before her.
It is nothing but sheer brilliance of her power of detection that helped her to recognise an ordinary looking painting hanging on her friend’s house as one of the master pieces by van Gogh-the master of impressionism! What the picture is doing in her friend’s house-when it should find its way in a museum. And they found startling revelation with a little bit of help from the technology-
‘What is the world is it? Vega asked in growing concern as she saw the same stunned expression slowly come over my face as well.
I looked up at Matteo in utter disbelief after reading the final two sentences of the painting’s online description.
‘Stolen?’ I exclaimed as Matteo and i simultaneously spun our heads to stare across the room at the painting that was hiding the wall of their father’s apartment ‘the painting was stolen?’
Another little bit of help from the measuring devices was enough to put them under confusion-whether the invaluable painting was hanging in front of them?
Any element of doubt that was inside their mind had been evaporated by the sister of Matteo- the television programmer who had some good experience with artworks. She confirmed that not only the artwork suspected to be a Van Gogh is a Van Gogh indeed but other two harmless looking simple paintings hanging on are authentic pieces of art- from the masters of impressionism.
It is now mystery split all over. The original paintings are probably worth millions-and they are finding their way in a private house at Rome. But it is only the tip of the iceberg. The gradual plunging deep into mystery will make the reader amazed. As they were all mystified with stolen artworks- a steaming sound took away their attention. They went to the source-and the experience has been narrated at the introduction of this piece.
Now questions are to be asked. How the father of Kitty’s friend got possession of such invaluable artworks? What is his true identity? Why there is radio receiver in his room? Why it is inside a secret chamber?
Endless rows of questions-a single brain to solve all these.
Kitty shows brilliant detection power-but what is amazing for this young lady edition of Sherlock Holmes-she is also capable of seeing bright side of a dark man-or in other words positive traits of a negative character. In her detection stories- humane sides of the so called criminals get revealed. And this story is no exception-as we will see later as we progress into the story. So the room that the black figure revealed was full of mystery- a mysterious static radio making sequence of words and letters-a bunch of numbers –apparently without any sequence, meaningless and letters written in a random fashion.
Kitty this time found himself surrounded by numbers and alphabets- taking her into deep of spy secret-coded messages-decoding techniques-combination and permutation. And writer’s passion for deciphering may prove infectious to the reader too-enjoying every bit of the unknown.
Rome to Germany-the trail of the stolen artwork mystery takes Kitty from marvel to marvel- newer clues give the story new twist and turns at every corner-and the speed turns breathtaking. Here foes turn friends and friends turn foes-here the facade of a man can’t be believed –and here the history takes a tryst with mystery.
Always the story of kitty is filled up with aroma of the land and the people, heritage and culture-but this one is quite exceptional as the racial discrimination policy of fascist Germany has been expressed in a style that is enough to shake the mind of the young adult readers from the roots.
‘Arbeit Macht Frei,the gate read, work makes you free.
Those few simple words mark the entrance to one of the most notorious places on earth-the site of the former Nazi concentration camp of Dachau.
You’re probably asking yourself why in the world I would want to visit such vile and sinister place and the only answer I can really give you that after spending so many hours is sitting there in the Zeppelintribune in Nuremberg, alone with my thoughts and surrounded by the ghosts of thousands who made horrific places like this is a reality, something inside me simply had to see it.’
But the story will not end here-it will go from strength to strength- until we reach the very climax-when the most improbable will really turn most probable and the most probable will become most improbable.
After all-what we see can sometimes be proved wrong- but logical deductions are error-less.
And everything is not so elementary!

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The stage is totally dark. Suddenly enters a character inside the stage-who may have committed the crime. The limelight falls on him for the moment-then he exists from the stage. Then enters another one- the play is going to m be repeated once again. But one thing is similar for all the characters- all have strong motive for committing the crime.
This is the way of narration of the story- at least in respect of The Murder of Sonia Raikkonen by Salil Desai- at least in respect of this murder mystery of Inspector Saralakar. Frankly speaking, this is the first time I have got the opportunity of discovering the way Inspector Saralakar, homicide squad, Mumbai Police works-and I became completely absorbed with it. True, this guy does not have brilliant detection power as like Sherlock Holmes-does not play a game of elimination as our very own Byomkesh Bakshi-does not have a hunch for crime as Father Brown-but can arrive at the conclusion from logical reasoning and a little bit of homework from here and there. He is a smart, intelligent detective of twenty first century who makes ample use of technology in the course of solving the crime. It is the humane face of the detective that makes him more admirable. Sometimes he overlooks a point or makes an error-but does not hesitate to make a confession of it!
Inspector Saralakar appears to me, more a real world character rather than a fictional hero.
Let us come to the fiction part-taking away our gaze from the characterisation of the detective-for the time being. Sonia- a Finnish national was brutally stabbed in one of her visits to India. She is actually a frequent visitor to Indian soil. In the narration of the writer,
“Her assailant had shown no qualms for mutilating her tender, young body repeatedly-as if determined not to be accused of compassion or squeamishness. The grapping slashes on her torso and across her neck seemed to cruelly inspect just how deep her beauty went.
It should’ve been a quick but painful death by all appearances, yet she had bled and, and apparently lived long enough to crawl up to the garden fencing. Her fingers were clasped around the wire mesh of the fence in what seemed like a bid to raise herself, face framed against it. That’s probably when death had overtaken her, and that’s how two street hoarding workers on their daily nocturnal assignment, had spotted her, an hour later.”
Our protagonist is on a trail of finding –of who is the murderer- and he is virtually clueless- except a white sandal what has been recovered on the spot. However readers are not clueless-the writer introduced with them with the suspects –one by one. First one is her boyfriend Vaino Gradstrom- who seems to be in a hurry to escape out of India. They had a separation some days after they have arrived in India-amidst a fight! And now-“his face is free of injuries fortunately. Vano’s attention turned towards the dirt under his fingernails and he cringed. He had to clean and cut his nails. Finishing his bath he stepped outside just as his mobile begun buzzing.” why he is in a hurry?
Then enters Badri Tiwari-the cabbie. The writer with artistic precision has described the state of mind of the driver who seems to be completely unnerved and it seems he will be the happiest person on earth if someone arranges a rocket for him to return to his home village at Uttar Pradesh. Well-he is not also above the suspicion from the point of view of the reader. ‘What if by chance the happenings of previous nights had already been discovered? Wouldn’t he be walking straight into trouble and miss the train? It would be a recipe for disaster. Yet what other way was there? Badri felt a fresh surge of panic. He had to hurry.”
Or take the case of Vikram Mohla-the handsome hunk who had a sweet and sour relation with Sonia. Why a remark from one of her friends, regarding Sonia-sent a chill down to his spine? Is he too involved?
Going virtually clueless- another murder of an unidentified old man was discovered. There was a striking similarity-in respect of the pattern of stabbing and wound. Another clue is the discovery of the lost pair of white sandal from the murder sight. When two murders are linked up- it appears they are like two broken ends of the same thread.
Plunging deeper into the case our protagonist started to discover that everyone is under a facade- nobody has a straightforward appearance- nobody is above suspicion. And what appeared to be a simple case of robbery- rape and murder by local goons- gradually started to assume the shape of a complex case. Newer facts have started to get discovered and everything comes under the scanner. Even the purpose of Sonia’s frequent visit to India revealed startling facts!
A detection story full of unpredictability, full of thrill is sure to compel the reader to turn into an avid fan of Inspector Saralkar-who is a first timer to the series like me.
And then?
Well, certainly if I tell the whole story then the joy of reading will be spoiled.
A detective works with the darker sides of human mind. Sometimes ugly facts do surface. Like a scuba driver detective goes deep into the sea of human mind and discovers psychological facts that compel the criminal to commit a crime. In this sense every crime has lots of clue-if the past life, the psychology of the suspect is put under scanner.
And the writer –who creates such genius?
Well- I always wonder how they can and it remains to me still a mystery!


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