Source: Tales Pensieve
Set in the small town of ‘Ratnagiri’,’Happily Murdered’ is a neatly executed murder mystery by first time author,’Rasleen Syal’.
Plot: GulabSarin, the bubbly bahu of the Mehta family is found dead, the very next day of her marriage. Since the possibility of a break in in the heavily guarded ‘Mehta’ Palace is zilch, the Police believes the murderer is one among the Mehtas.As it plays out, it becomes clear that every member of the Mehta household, right from Gulab’s adulterous husband, Sid to her Grand mother-in-law,Biji had something to gain from her death.To save their own skin, each of these potential suspects turn into amateur detectives and start unearthing vital clues which takes the story forward before it culminates in an interesting and well thought out climax.
Characters: There are quite a number of characters in ‘Happily Murdered’. The writer gets full credit for making each of them believable and unique. Be it the adamant and astute, K.D, who is more bothered about the pristine public image of the Mehta family than finding the real culprit behind the murder or the naïve and vulnerable,Sid, each one of these characters stands out and play their own part in making the narrative fast paced and intriguing.The book also has a parallel narrative through which the reader gets to know the ‘real’ Gulab(the victim),her life story, herlove, ambitions and weaknesses which is a rarity as far as books of this genre is concerned where very little will be revealed about the victim till the fag end of the story. The other principal characters in this novel are Monica,Vikram(Gulab’s business partner and the second son of K.D.Mehta),Sara(Gulab’s sister-in-law and the primary suspect),Yuvi(the youngest son of Mehta and Gulab’s best friend).
Language, writingstyle: The writing is flawless and easy to relate with. Though there is nothing new about the setting and the overall storyline (Rasleen seems to be heavily inspired by her ‘guru’ Christie), it’s the execution which makes this book an engaging read. Usually in crime thrillers like this, the author chooses the easy way out to narrate the story through the eyes of the investigator thereby making the peripheral characters uni-dimensional and lifeless.Thankfully, inRasleen’sworld, there is no Poirot or Miss Marple (or their desi clones) to take the story forward. In fact she has chosen a character driven narrative for her first work. The writer deserves a pat on her back for choosing this interesting but more difficult path to narrate her tale.It not only proves that she is confident with her work but also emphasises that she is a genuine story teller.Not everyone will like the way,Rasleen has concluded her murder mystery, I’m pretty sure. Butthat doesn’t take the sheen away from this beautifully crafted work of fiction.
Overall Layout and Cover Design: The overall layout of the book is quite decent but I feel the cover design could have been much better. The book has occasional typos and grammatical errors which I hope they will correct in the subsequent editions of the book.
Pricingand Marketing: At 195 INR,’Happily Murdered’ is quite modestly priced and not a very expensive book by any stretch of imagination. (I have just discovered that this website called ‘CupoNation’ has listed all the deals available for this book and a couple of other desi thrillers at Amazon coupons.Even if you are an amazon hater, there is a reason to cheer. They have also listed some deals for rediff books in their site.Do check out their website for availing these coupons and buying this work).I think the book is marketed well for I have seen its copies everywhere, be it the online stores or their offline counterparts.
What I liked the most about the book:
1. The writing style
2. The Characters
What I didn’t like:
Verdict: On the whole, ‘Happily Murdered’ is an engaging read. I’m giving it 3.5 out of 5.