Author- Ismita Tandon
Publisher– Harper Collins Publishers India
Genre– Fiction/ Whodunnit
Price– Rs 299/-
Thank you Indiblogger for this wonderful opportunity. The book I am about to review right now was sent to me under the GetPublished program by Indiblogger and Harper Collins. It has been a great initiative and I’d love to be a part of it in the future too.
Coming to the book, it falls in the Agatha Cristie’s genre of mysterious storylines which are gripping and complex at the same time. It was easy on eyes in terms of both printing quality and language. I was able to finish it in less than three days in very few sittings. The author Ismita Tandon is a poetess who blogs at lesserknownpoet.com. She has authored two books before this one viz. Love on the Rocks and Jacob Hills.
The cover design by Trinankur Banerjee is exquisite and it piques the reader’s interest with the scinitillating art and fonts that stand out starkly. The image of a dead lady with a fallen wine glass and a sketch lying near it paint a curious picture. It is definitely one of the nicer covers that I have seen so far. The back cover is red- the colour of both passion and blood and carries an introduction to the protagonist Johny Will who is the founder of Thy Will- a deaddiction centre for the rich and famous in the sleepy hill station town of Monele; his fiancee Mira, who dies of an overdose of morphine. Then we have characters of Officer Ray, Johnny’s assistant Sera, Johnny’s cousin-slash-half brother Zac and Zac’s mother Adele. Almost revealing too much, maybe out of the confidence in her own story-telling, the author sets the mood for the book.
The novel is written in first person accounts of all the characters that constitute the prime suspects or important people in the novel. Switching turnwise to various first person accounts disrupts the pace of reading the story somewhat and sometimes may confuse you as to whose account you’re reading. It is an interesting style but I think if there were so many characters, choosing one or two persons for narration eg. Johnny Will (protagonist) and Officer Ray (Investigator) would have been better.
I would put the novel in pulp fiction category because of the sheer volatility in the characters. It is a world where anybody might sleep with anyone and hormones run high. If I might be forgiven for sounding like a sexist, I’d say that the novel is somewhat feminine in its broodings; which may be a put off or a turn on based on your taste. One drawback of running first person accounts throughout the story is that you are showing the story from various perspectives and in a whodunnit, it becomes difficult to hide who is the murderer if the reader is let into the brains of all the characters. This unnecessary challenge that the author took up, was duly met with the help of vague language and situations which were open to interpretation. All in all, it was a display of wit and the best part is that there are no loose threads as you finish the novel.
There is a certain European air about the novel and it is less Indian in terms of not only the characters’ names but the situations too. It is not a coming-of-age novel by any means, as it caters to the basal senses of thrill and voyeurism. Despite the high promises at the beginning, the characters who were given complex roles, end up in the simpler black and white cages which was disappointing.
One has to hand it to the author for successfully guarding the mystery and keeping the reader hooked till the end. The novel is addictive and it grows on you, whether you like it or not. Even if your taste differs, you cannot put it down for the simple reason that the pace of the novel is kept such that there is a new event unfolding at every other page. Reading it is like sitting with a punster, you know you might not like the joke but you want to hear it anyway, just to know the answer.
The character descriptions are vivid and lively by even international bestsellers’ standards, the language is lucid and the poetess in the author has found expression at certain places which was more of a speedbreaker in terms of pace of reading. I feel, and this is just an opinion, that the author fares much better in the prose department than poetry. Of course, it is a matter of individual choice. The problem with first person accounts is also that if there is inconsistency in the thoughts and actions of a character, the plot gets messy. It happens at two-three places but I’d forgive the same for the sake of originality and innovation. I think the best from Ismita’s pen is yet to come and for that she has to be braver than this. In terms of the title of the book too, I think she could have done better.
I’d rate this novel with three out of five stars. ***/5