30 June, 2017

#BookReview :: 3 and a Half Murders by Salil Desai

Two corpses . . . a woman lying dead on her bed, a man hanging from the ceiling fan. 
A suicide note cum murder confession. 
And a name . . . Shaunak Sodhi.

When the case comes their way, Senior Inspector Saralkar has just been diagnosed with hypertension and PSI Motkar is busy with rehearsals of an amateur play.

What appears at first to be a commonplace crime by a debt-ridden, cuckolded husband, who has killed his unfaithful wife and then hung himself, soon begins to unfold as a baffling mystery.

As clues point to a seven-year-old unsolved murder in Bangalore and other leads emerge closer home, Saralkar and Motkar find themselves investigating shady secrets, bitter grudges, fishy land deals, carnal desires, the dead woman Anushka Doshi’s sinister obsession with past life regression and her husband’s links to a suspicious, small-time god-man, Rangdev Baba. And then, suddenly, the murderer resurfaces and yet another life is in grave danger . . . 

Can Saralkar and Motkar get to the bottom of an unimaginably shocking motive and stop the malevolent killer from committing the fourth murder . . .?

I quite enjoyed the previous two Inspector Saralkar mysteries. As such when this book released, I bought it promptly with much expectations. And I must say, the book met with each of my expectations.

Inspector Saralkar and Motkar are back. This time they are investigating what seems to be an open and shut case of a man murdering his cheating wife and then hanging himself complete with a suicide note with the murder confession. Trust Inspector Saralkar to look closely even in such a case, and what he digs up is a lot of trouble including an unsolved murder.

I like this series as it seamlessly combines mystery with drama. There’s a lot of drama in the book, whether it be in Saralkar and Motkar’s personal life or whether be it in the case. And the comic relief with Saralkar’s sarcastic one liners is always a welcome thing in a book. In this instalment, we see the protagonist grow a bit as he ties up all the loops in the mystery. What is interesting is the way the author builds up each scene… from police station to the crime scene, the settings are always detailed. The dialogues in the book are mostly sharp and crisp. By the time the climax comes in, everything is neatly set up for Saralkar to tie up. Not a single plot hole.

Overall, this is one of the best IWE mystery books that I have read in recent times. I recommend it to all mystery and whodunnit lovers.


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