A hundred-year-old stage steeped in tradition. Six contestants with a world to gain and everything to lose. Three judges who stand between them and their dreams. It is October in Shimla. The air is crisp, the mist is rising and the stakes are sky-high as the finalists of India's No. 1 reality cooking show, Hot Chef, are pitted against each other in a live shoot at the historic Gaiety Theatre. The spices are ground, the fires are lit, the knives have been sharpened? Then things start to go horribly wrong. As she picks her way through a maze of testimonies and motives, Shimla's Superintendent of Police, Niki Marwah, is more determined than ever to get to the bottom of a perplexing mystery - a mystery that this time around is dangerously close to her heart.
To be frank, I had very little expectation from this book. Afterall, I have read very few ‘Good’ Mystery/Thriller produced by IWE Authors. But I picked this one up with hopes of it turning out to be time-pass read as it is set in Shimla. Having grown up in hill stations myself, and now being caught up in the concrete jungle of a metropolitan city, I was hoping for an escape into the mountains for a while. But this books has not only exceeded my expectations but has also made the list of favourites this year.
The stage is set by India’s No.1 Reality TV show… Hot Chef. Six contestants battle it out by producing awesome dishes and three judges do their best to select the best. That would have been simple enough, but there is something sinister going on behind the sets. A killer is on the loose and it is upto Shimla's Superintendent of Police, Niki Marwah, to get to the bottomline of the case before it is too late. The stakes are high and nerves are running high too… Will Niki be able to solve the delicious mystery?
First of all, it was good to see a female protagonist who is a competent officer of the law and in an important position. As a female reader, I enjoyed rooting for Niki as she handled things professionally and with finesse. The Whodunnit aspect of the plot is also intriguing and it wasn’t easy for a mystery buff like me to pick out the culprit as the stage was set and facts revealed in such a manner that it forced me to consider each character as the culprit atleast once. The author’s narration style is refreshing and engaging, keeping the readers glued to its pages until the very end.
I also loved the marketing strategy, wherein a small pouch of spice is put in the first page of the book with a tagline ‘A pinch full of this can be lethal.’ If I had seen this in a bookstore I would have surely been tempted to buy the book.
Overall, a great mystery with all its elements in the right places.