Though the murder mystery is quite a popular genre all over the world, it was not gaining the due attention in India. This statement is with special reference to English as the genre is somewhat popular in other regional languages (especially in Hindi). However, the pattern is changing and many Indian authors are penning down murder mysteries in English. The expanding number of such books in both Indian bookstores and online websites can be taken as an evidence of the same. At the same time, a very small number of these books make an impression on you and the rest can be categorized as average type of books. One murder mystery that impresses you on several fronts is going to be examined in this post today.
The book under review is The Murder of Sonia Raikkonen: An Inspector Saralkar Mystery by Salil Desai. This is the second book in the Inspector Saralkar mystery series. I have already reviewed the first book (Killing Ashish Karve) of the series here. The Murder of Sonia Raikkonen, like the first book of the series, is a brilliant page turner and keeps you hooked till the end. The story is both fast-paced and eventful. As is the case with all murder mysteries, the plot in this book centers around a murder. The dead body of Sonia Raikkonen, a Finish tourist, is found in a public garden in Pune. She appeared to have succumbed to severe assault and murder. Senior Inspector Saralkar gets the charge of this case and an investigation begins. The killing appeared to be a simple case of rape and murder in the beginning but things start to get murkier as the case progresses further. A number of people start appearing who may easily have had the motive for the killing. The mystery soon becomes a game of puzzle for the readers who try to solve the case themselves.
Inspector Saralkar is the lifeline of this book. His charismatic character and his fair and intuitive ways to deal with the case make him a captivating lead. The author has paid equal attention in sketching out other characters also. I was glad that the story focused as much on other characters as it did on Inspector Saralkar. The book has a great balance of dialogue, narration and description. The story is also interesting. The book has everything a good murder mystery should have.
The only let down of this book was its beginning. This beginning helps you in pinning down the murderer from an early stage. I easily located the killer in the first few pages of the book. It does not mean that the mystery was flawed because you only pat yourself on the back when the solution is finally revealed at the end. However, I strongly feel that the first few pages of the book should have been somewhere in the middle of the book. It would not only have enhanced the element of suspense, but also have surprised the readers at the end. Well! It is what I think and other readers have full right to disagree with me. In any case, it is a brilliantly written murder mystery. Even if you will figure out the murderer, you will not be able to work out how the murder was actually accomplished.
Long story cut short, this is an exceptionally good murder mystery. Characters are memorable. The plot is exciting and dialogues are lively. Go for it if you like to read murder mysteries.