Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Book Review :: 'Dangle’ by Sutapa Basu

Genre: Crime/ Thriller
Publisher: Readomania
Stunning, svelte, smart Ipshita is a globetrotter. She treks across the world to gather bytes for the travel chats she designs and hosts for TV channels. Despite being a self assured and sophisticated entrepreneur, Ipshita is haunted by a nameless fear. Social interaction with men unleashes psychotic turmoil inside her, making her wary of male attentions. Yet, the cold and aloof Ips is inexorably drawn to the three men she meets at different points in her journey. 
Her arousal to the overtures of these men catches her unawares. Well-built defenses break as her dormant sexuality go into overdrive until she discovers the horrifying truth about them…and herself. 

Life puzzles. Secrets tumble out. Will she be able to reclaim her life or let it dangle.

My Review:

‘Dangle’, as the name indicates, draws our attention towards the delicate balances in life. The scale can tilt to any side, at any time, based on circumstances and one’s choices. The author ‘Sutapa Basu’ has woven the story around suave, modern-day woman Ipshita, who is on the verge of an emotional revelation, which takes her on a journey of identifying her strengths and weaknesses, and how to deal with the truth called life.

The intriguing storyline reveals various aspects of Ipshita’s life which play a part in making her what she is. Doting parents, and her childhood friend Aditya Rao who give her much required strength in trying times. Sister, Mallika and her husband Vikram give us a glimpse of how frailty and viciousness can strike a precarious balance to survive. 

The story seamlessly takes us through her assignments, around the globe, and her relationships ending into a shocking discovery which shatters the core of Ipshita’s existence. As she fights and conquers her internal demons, she is surprised with her reactions to opposite sex. Instead of freezing off men she begins to enjoy the attention and discovers her own desires and sexual needs.

Life’s philosophy narrated with a hint of suspense, a bit of vicious crime, and sprinkling of romance, Dangle takes one to an engrossing rollercoaster ride from high-flying Chicago city to Delhi to picturesque Imphal and beaches of Indonesia, not to mention army life and insurgency in North-Eastern states of India.

The author’s strong grasp on language, and research on various locales, culture is evident throughout the book. Her own poem and the translated poems/songs of Ravindranath Tagore make the story all the more rich and vibrant.

Overall, Dangle is a story about a woman’s struggle in accepting and overcoming her darkest fears, and embracing the realities of life. 

A highly recommended read.

PS: I normally don't bother about the cover, but this one needs a special mention. Loved the neat concept and the way the title is placed.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Book Review :: ‘Vikram Rana Investigates’ by Sharmishtha Shenoy

Genre: Mystery and suspense


Vikram Rana Murder Mysteries set in Hyderabad…… 

The Mysterious Affair of the Lohia Mansion

When the glamourous socialite Richa Lohia is poisoned in her mansion in Jubilee Hills, her brother-in-law hires his mate, ex-cop Vikram Rana, to solve this murder. This is Vikram’s first case and he, along with Inspector Gopi Reddy, must solve the case even if they face opposition from the richest and powerful family in Hyderabad, who would stop at nothing to defend themselves. 

The Sonia Sinha Case 

When property developer Krishna Dhavala is stabbed to death in Necklace Road, everyone suspects Mrs. Dhavala to be the murderer of her alcoholic and abusive husband. But is that really the case? Vikram Rana and Inspector Reddy have a tough time uncovering the murderer and Vikram himself almost dies trying to solve this case. Experience the mystery along with the duo as they fight their way through the maze of lies, deceit and greed. 

My Review:

‘Vikram Rana Investigates’ consists of two murder cases set in the city of Hyderabad, which are investigated and solved by Vikram Rana, a private investigator.

‘The Mysterious Affair at the Lohia Mansion’ takes us to Rich Lohia, daughter of a powerful man and wife of renowned industrialist, who dies under mysterious circumstances in her locked bedroom. Rana is hired by Rohan Lohia, his friend and Richa’s bother-in-law, to investigate the untimely death.

The story starts pulling you in, with many characters coming into the ambit of suspicion— the husband, Kinshuk Richa’s drug-addict son, Juhi - the governess, and Rohan himself. The story keeps one invested till the end.

‘The Sonia Sinha Case’ is about murder of a dubious property developer, Krishna Mohan Dhavala, who is brutally murdered in his car. As Rana comes in to investigate there are many characters who slowly come into his list of suspects. The villain’s character is well etched as the story progresses. The author gives us the information piece by piece maintaining the suspense till the end.

Of the two I liked the second one better as it is more convincing. Coming up with murder mysteries which do not have a loophole is difficult. Kudos to the author for not one but two well thought-out stories.

Both the stories are well told, however they could have been made into full separate novels by flushing out the characters and detailing the situations. Secondly in the Lohia case too many characters are introduced in quick succession leading to confusion. I had to read first few pages again to get the names right.

Pace of both the stories is good. Language is simple and narration maintains the suspense till the end. The interactions between Vikram Rana and his wife Veena bring much needed light-hearted moments in tense situations.

A great effort for a debut.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Book Review:: ‘Shamsuddin’s Grave’ by Paromita Goswami

Genre: Literary
Publisher: Partridge

Latika's wrecked personal front leaves her completely shattered. So when her ailing father reveals his desire to go back home, she doesn't think twice and moves to her hometown. She joins an NGO and comes across a teenager rape victim. Much against her TL, Debjyoti's wish she sets out to trace the girl with Shamsuddin's help. Will she succeed or end up in big trouble?

Shamsuddin, a daily labourer, somehow manages to thrive in the city. Meanwhile, flood devastates his house in the village. His family takes refuge in a relative's place where his wife has a tough time resisting to the advances of her brother-in-law. Can Shamsuddin arrange for an accommodation before it is too late? 

Set in Guwahati amid the backdrop of flood and ethnic turmoil, "Shamsuddin's Grave", is the story of migration towards big cities for a better life.

My Review:
‘Shamsuddin’s Grave’ deals with the plight and fate of homeless people in the north-eastern state Assam and forces one to think about the social makeup of our society. The story revolves around Shamsuddin’s need to own a home and social activist Latika, and how their lives are intertwined as they help bust a human trafficking ring. 

Having lost everything in the floods, Shamsuddin, a farmer, comes to Guwahati to try his luck in the city. Struggling to make ends meet he loses the trust of his family too. Battling her own setbacks Latika is carving out a new life working for an NGO. She comes across Shamsuddin, who lives in a barn of her aunt’s residence premises. They bond together and help each other during the difficult times of their lives. Shamsuddin's only dream is to own a house and get united with his family.

I simply loved the plot and its execution. Deprived of basic necessities of life, ’Shamsuddin’s Grave’ is a touching story of homeless, poor people who are treated as refugees in their own homeland. Shamsuddin’s plight touches a chord in one’s heart. Latika’s ambitious and emotional journey and the other sub-plots are seamlessly integrated with the main theme. The twist in the end leaves one amused as well poignant, dwelling on the social malady.

The characters of Shamsuddin and Latika are well etched with all their human frailty. Shamsuddin reflects the illiterate, oppressed class, who don’t have the simple understanding of owning an identification document to open a bank account. Latika stands for today’s modern woman who voices her opinion and is not afraid to get what she wants. The two opposite sides of human nature add spice to the story. 

Coming to narration, language though simple, needed another round of editing to cut down endless narration. The story could have been leaner for stronger impact of the issues. At times the words used are not appropriate in the context.

All said ‘Shamsuddin’s Grave’ is fabulous story with a delightful yet disturbing end.