I am eating, living, breathing mysteries. Yes. In books. On television. In my mind too. Its just a matter of time before I become that lampooning character who roams around the world casting suspicious looks at people, trying to find mysterious stories and explanations where exist none. Phew. One more time, its a mystery that came my way for review. A win - its a different kind of mystery - a medical mystery - the first that I have ever read.
Enter Ashritha - a young and famous writer, who, as her latest project is writing a book on the lives of cancer patients, for the purpose of which, she decides to stay in Umeed Hospital and observe and interview patients. She hopes that her book will become a source of hope, company and inspiration for others afflicted with this deadly disease. However, little does she know that the hospital she chooses to stay in has more to offer than just the stories of people coping up with cancer. A number of terminally ill patients are being killed in cold blood - an extremely strange occurrence given that they are already going to die. Ashritha, the strong, concerned and smart woman she is, suspects some foul play and with the help of her friend from CBI - Animesh - gets on course to unravelling the elusive facts behind these hideous acts. The road to solving the mystery is paved with threats to Ashritha's life, but for once does she not buckle down. If anything, she is even firmly back on the case. Intellectually ripe, she is able to figure out it all - only her wildest dreams could not have conjured where ultimately her investigations lead her. This, along with a subtle, brewing romance between Ashritha and Animesh is what makes this book a wholesome tale to savour.
I roughly took three days to finish this book, that too when I had a pile load of work to do. The previous line is to show that the book managed to keep me engrossed. The storyline is interesting, with adequate crests and very less troughs. Crises are introduced in the story when you least expect. However, as you get friendly with the author and the psyche of her characters, for sometime, the narrative does become predictable. The tale ends like most mysteries do - the culprit is not whom you expect, but one who fits the jigsaw perfectly. Alka's characters are deep, and have consistent traits, which makes them easy to understand and follow. The language of the book is quite ordinary and comfortable. No big promises, but this book does live up to the excitement it creates in the back-cover blurb. The knowledge and research of the author shows in the way she has described unto last detail the life of doctors and nurses in the hospital. The book seldom loses its focus and ties together all the lose ends at the climax. To summarize, I would not label this an extraordinary piece of writing, but a genuinely decent effort by first time writer Alka Dimri Saklani. Giving it 2.5 stars on 5, I would go on to say that this is the kind of easy-read mystery that would conveniently fit into your hectic schedule and provide welcome distractions.
PS - My favourite bit about the book is the Acknowledgements. The author admits to having named her protagonist on her brother, because his support during the process of drafting the book was invaluable. I only hope that if someday I get down to writing a book, I have similar support systems available to me too.
Book Details -
Title - 45 Days In A Cancer Hospital
Author - Alka Dimri Saklani
Publisher - Leadstart
Genre - Medical Mystery / Crime Fiction
Price - ₹ 195
Pages - 296