Killing Ashish Karve (An Inspector Saralkar Mystery) by Salil Desai was my first encounter with Inspector Saralkar. This book was first published as The Body in the Back Seat. And you know what? I enjoyed reading this book. It is a brilliantly woven murder mystery. The plot is good. The story-line is both eventful and fast-paced. Characters have been sketched well. The dialogues have been constructed skilfully. The editors have done a nice job. Even the cover of the book is designed exceptionally well and blurb is also fitting. Then, why three stars? Well! It is the climax where the book fizzles out like a balloon. A little more effort on this aspect would have definitely made this book a ‘must-read’ book. Nonetheless, the book is still a good read and you will be surprised by the writing skill of the author.
Let us have a look on the story-line. The dead body of Ashish Karve, a local businessman, has been found in the back seat of his own car. It appears to be a simple case of suicide but Inspector Saralkar (the main protagonist of this story) is not convinced. According to his instincts, it is a case of a murder and he starts investigating the case. Then we are introduced to victim’s family members, friends and business partners. All of these and even some strangers appear to have a potential reason to kill Ashish. You suspect almost every one of these of murdering Ashish at one point or another as the author dexterously tosses up clues here and there. The number of suspects, however, narrows down as the book progresses and, finally, the murderer is revealed.
As mentioned in the beginning of this review, almost all the things in this book are perfect apart from the climax. You are certainly going to like the element of anticipation in the plot. The suspense begins right at the beginning and the reader immediately starts wondering about the upcoming events resulting into turning the pages one after another. And, this makes this book a ‘hard to put down’ book. I also liked the character of Senior Inspector Saralkar. While we cannot compare his character with well-known sleuths like Christie’s Poirot and Doyle’s Holmes, his character has some charisma. Along with his humorous nature, Saralkar’s fair and intuitive way to deal with the case makes him an extremely captivating lead. Then there is PSI Motkar whose character has also been flashed out well. The chemistry between Saralkar and Motkar is fun to read. This chemistry has been created through well-written dialogues and the author should be given credit for that.
Should you read this book? Yes, if you are a fan of murder mysteries. The author has interlaced a good murder mystery with a well-planned story-line. This is, of course, not a book that will blow wind out of your sail but it is surely the kind of mystery you would enjoy reading with a big bowl loaded with popcorn next to you. So, get comfortable on a chair and start reading it…:)