Saturday, June 9, 2012

Murder In Amaravati by Sharath Komarraju - A Review

This is turning out to be a season of murder mysteries for me. The ball was set rolling by a chance glimpse of The Mentalist, where the 'cute blonde'- Patrick Jane- caught more than just my eyes. He kept me glued to the screen with his offbeat techniques of solving murder cases, done with a touch of elegance. A not-so-pleasant flipside of being addicted to the same has been this incurable urge of identifying the killer/main culprit in the first ten minutes of the show, and spending rest of the time in assessing the motives. This urge had gotten so firmly entrenched in me, that I subconsciously carried it over to Murder In Amaravati- a book penned by Sharath Komarraju- which also happens to be the first book of this genre I have picked up in a long long time.

Twenty pages into Murder At Amaravati, and the mini detective in my head had already started hopping from character to character in a bid to beating the author and guessing both, the killer and the motive, and then suitably criticizing the book for its inability to surprise me. I should have though better of Sharath, who has proved to be, in this book at least, an author who knows his writing well, this genre well, and has the capacity of staying at least three steps ahead of the reader when it comes to the unfolding of the plot. The last is, in my view, absolutely mandatory for writers of thrillers and mysteries.

This is one book I would like to call and idyllic, laid-back murder mystery. The reason for that is perhaps its setting. The book begins with a murder, that of a hostess, Padmavati, based in Amaravati. Amaravati is a lazy, cozy village, with streaks of historical relevance, situated on the banks of the river Krishna. This village comes with a warning- "Nothing stays hidden in Amaravati"- which is much the case with most Indian villages and their common culture. However, as the plot unfolds, we realize, that this village is such where each person has a secret, each more forbidden than the other. A police constable, Venkat Reddy, takes it upon himself to bring Padmavati to justice, which is no mean task since most of the typically orthodox villagers, who made no secret of reviling Padmavati for her choice of profession, are relieved she has made her exit from their environment. "Good riddance" is what they tag her murder as. The most vehement among the ones who scorned at her was the village priest- Krishna Shastri- who also plays the second fiddle (Or so we suppose) to Venkat Reddy in solving the mystery behind Padmavati's killer.

As I said, it is a lazy mystery- not the kinds which would keep you on the edge. You would turn pages of this book in calm curiosity, not in eagerness or excitement. If like me, you are playing the guessing game all along, trust me, unless you belong to a creed of extraordinarily perceptive, intelligent and also imaginative men, you will not be able to beat Sharath's storyline. The author, one I have come to admire for his simplicity, has done a good job of making Murder At Amaravati an easy, quick and light read. The wordplay is modest, but the language is elegant. The narrative flows along at a comfortable pace with no points of discontinuity. From an earlier short fiction of Sharath's which I have read (and liked too!), I am guessing this is one author who likes to layer his stories; and as simple a tale as Murder At Amaravati appears to be in the beginning, you will soon discover the layers in the story which have been creatively and convincingly linked to the main, deceased character, of the book.

Each character in the book- and there are about eight to ten- has been painted with finesse. The peculiarities and stories behind each are skillfully told, and characters easily become a part of your mind. The case with mysteries is, that objects also come to acquire place of importance in the storyline - they have cameos to play which aid the development of the plot. Even that aspect has been taken care of well by Sharath.

All in all, a story well told. For those fond of mysteries and a dearth of time to cater to this fondness, this book may prove to be a thoroughly satisfying read. 3 stars on 5 is what my assessment of the book yields. I, personally, am looking forward to reading more books from this author of immense promise.

(Reviewed on request by the author) 

4 comments:

  1. Nicely written review. You could probably also add the cost, and how one goes about purchasing a copy.

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    1. Aah. Yes. I will bear that in mind in future.

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  2. Replies
    1. Good toh hai :)

      Btw, when are you coming out with a novel of yours?

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