Sunday, November 5, 2017

#BookReview: Murder In Paharganj by Kulpreet Yadav


On the jacket:


On a cold December morning, a white woman is found murdered in a cheap hotel in Paharganj, New Delhi. Vicks Menon, an out-of-work journalist, is tipped off by the hotel's receptionist and is the first to arrive at the crime scene, where he discovers a lead. It's the bus ticket used by the dead woman two days earlier. But Vicks is battling personal trouble. He has no money, an alcohol problem, and a nearly broken relationship with Tonya, his estranged live-in partner, a clinical psychologist who specializes in profiling hardened criminals. Moving in and out of the shadows, Vicks pushes his investigation harder as it takes him from Udaipur to Bangkok. On his side, for resources, he has a nameless intelligence operative, and to read minds, a lover who is beginning to trust him again. But above all, his instinct to stay inches ahead of death will be the key to his survival. If Vicks lives, this is one story that will change his life forever.

Review:

Anybody who knows my reading habits knows how much I love a good mystery. Leave me in a bookstore and I'd walk towards the mystery/thriller section. While there is an abundance of good mystery novels in the global market, I'd love to see Indian authors making their mark in the  genre as well. If we look at present day authors, it would be wrong to say that some aren't trying to disrupt the trend and create a stable position for mysteries and thrillers, because they are.

When I chanced upon the opportunity to read Murder in Paharganj, I said yes without reading the blurb. This was to be my first read of Kulpreet Yadav's work as well. I usually don't dissect stories too much and write my reviews on broader points, but hey, a murder mystery is all about the layers to come out, right? 

Jokes apart, while reading Murder in Pahargnj, I was quite stupefied when the killer was revealed quite early in the book. Let's start from the very beginning, where a white woman was found dead in a hotel room at Paharganj, with nothing else missing in the story. The hotel's employee who found the body, called his out-of-work journalist friend Vicks Menon. Vicks is trying to resurrect his career and had left a word with all his friends to be informed of any newsworthy incidence first. A few chapters later, the author reveals who the killer is, but here is where Vicks life turns into an adventure. 

The story travels across countries, to come back and settle in the Indian soil. The plot is gripping, no doubt. A lot keeps happening while different characters (and there are quite a few) move countries and have conversations. Religion, national security and fugitives - all comes out in the open, behind the death of a foreign national in India. The mystery isn't who killed, rather it is something the investigators land upon quite by chance and is something they never imagined it to be, all the while, chasing the murderer.

While I kept wanting to know what happens next, I also found something unsettling in the story. Probably, too many characters, all of whom are important to the story. There are quite a few sub-stories as well, all fit in 274 pages. While this was not the best mystery novel I've read, I cannot deny that Murder in Paharganj is a good step in the Indian literary scene. I hope there will be a series in the Vicks Menon Thriller.

In the end, I must add one thing I loved. The entire book had fresh characters which were creations of the author. Mentioning this, because I see many Indian authors name their characters/places/brands on existing prominent names/brands (parodying on the names) which takes away from the fictional flavour for me and honestly affects my reading experience. 

Rating: 3.5/5

1 comment:

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