Gulab Sarin has been murdered. The new daughter-in-law of the wealthy and influential Mehta family, she is found dead the day after her wedding. The police know for certain that it’s an insider. Anyone could be the murderer, from the adulterous husband to the plotting in-laws. Or it could be the jealous friend or the love struck ex-fiance. All of them wish to save their own skins and incriminate others, so they begin a crusade to hunt for the truth as amateur detectives. Can they bring out the truth or will Gulab’s murderer vanish, leaving the truth dead just like her?
First look at the title and the cover and there is a hint of gore to it. But the cover looks pale and the title quite out of the blues. The title doesn't hits the right chord but the blurb comes back as a saving grace. The blurb talks about a murder and its repercussions. It's a blurb which one expects to be part of a murder mystery giving out nothing.
The story is set off in the hills of Ratnagiri with a royal decor and galore where a murder has happened on the wedding night. It sets into motion frenzied activity among the Mehta household and calls for unwanted attention and bad publicity. Somebody did it and from there on it's a vicious circle to pin point the murdered? So who had the motive behind the gruesome killing and who benefited the most from it? That's what the story is going to be.
There is a certain charm to the story and it acts as a leverage to the entire scenario. It's the compactness of the setup. The tightly knit conserved atmosphere by and large is a tried and tested formula and works like a charm here too. The story has a sluggish approach to it but nonetheless it helps bring out the best of a murder mystery and in turn keeps the curiosity alive. The much contrived murder mystery and drama theatrics of the plot give it colorful and dark flavor. The story moves in tepid circles but manages to hold the sanctity of it's motive true. The book towards the end springs some surprises which gives it a much better effect and a great finishing touch.
The book fails to excite in its initial run and churns out a very dull and pale approach towards building momentum. The characters look out of sorts and thrown in together as a bunch. A few of the characters looking over the top and completely unnecessary. Also there is a certain conviction missing at times and by large it gives the male characters an upper hands in the story leaving out the women in cold. The past narration too is not up to the mark and doesn't creates the stir which was expected out of it and becomes a burden after a certain point.
All in all the book does shines with it's melodramatic approach to the murder saga. It never manages to keep a single person at head of the story but the hotch potch gives it a edginess which works in its favor. There have been breathing spaces where the story does crumbles but it manages to pull out the neatest tricks out of the bag to finish off what started as a mystery mania for the readers. It's a light heart dark book to be read and savored.
3 OUT OF 5
P.S: THE BOOK WAS RECEIVED AS PART OF THE REVIEWERS PROGRAM ON "THE TALES PENSIEVE".