I always liked the stories of Akbar and Birbal. Akbar was one of the great Mughal emperors of ancient India and Birbal was an adviser in his court. The tales of Akbar and Birbal depict Birbal outsmarting his rival courtiers and sometimes even Akbar by using his wit and intelligence. More recently, Sharath Komarraju came up with his own rendition of one of the popular Akbar-Birbal stories in the form of a book titled ‘The Crows of Agra’. However, this version is different than the original story. In this adaptation, Birbal plays the role of a detective. As an ardent fan of Akbar-Birbal stories, I truly got excited when I got an offer to read and review this book. Birbal playing the role of a detective created a certain sort of anticipation in my mind. And, I am delighted to inform you that this book did not disappoint me. I enjoyed the story-line, as well as the way in which the story was portrayed.
The book under review is a typical murder mystery set in the formative years of Akbar. As mentioned above, Birbal plays the role of a sleuth here. With a tightly structured plot the book keeps you hooked till the end of the story. In fact, the book under review has all the components that you generally find in Agatha Christie’s close door murder mysteries. You will find an intriguing homicide with a number of suspects. In place of Hercule Poirot or Miss Marple, there is Birbal to solve the case. The needle of suspicions will move from one character to another, and finally the main culprit will be revealed at the end. While the ending of this book will not take the wind out of your sails, you will certainly not get disappointed. This is the beauty of this book. This book satisfies you, but in a different way. I am not going to reveal any part of the main story-line as it may act as a spoiler.
Sketching of different characters in a book plays a very important role in the overall success of a book and Sharath has given enough attention to develop different characters in ‘The Crows of Agra’. Every character is not only unique, but also is well-drawn. These characters, in turn, help in the development of the plot in the book. The language in the book is simple but effective. The author has avoided the use of complicated words. However, there are some typos, which could have been avoided by passing the book through another phase of tight editing. The cover of the book is great. Blurb has also been done well.
Some of the readers may get disappointed if they compare the events described in this book with actual historical events. Therefore, my advice to all of you will be to enjoy this book as a work of fiction only. In fact, the author of this book says the same forthright in the book and, therefore, should not be blamed for any historical inaccuracy visible in the book.
I really liked this book, and I do hope that more installments of Akbar-Birbal stories where Birbal is acting as a detective will come out in future.