A Mysterious Death At Sainik Farms
by Rukmani Anandani
A Mysterious Death At Sainik Farm is a murder mystery penned by the multifaceted Rukmani Anandani. The title is as lucid as it gets. In fact, it is a single phrase which gives you the plot of the book. This book is about the investigation of the murder of Ugrasen Arora, a wealthy businessman based in the posh Sainik Farms area of Delhi. The murder is brought to the notice of a private investigator, Ganapati Iyer, by Ugrasen Arora's beloved niece, Anjali, whose curious mind and affection towards Ugrasen turn her into a quasi-detective, aiding Ganapati in little but crucial ways. Ganapati is also aided in his investigations by his North Indian namesake and friend- Vinayak and the local Assistant Commissioner of Police, Bijon Dasgupta. Apart from these, a bevy of characters, all the murder victim's family members, are introduced in quick succession in the plot, and are, obviously, scrutinized as the prime suspect for Ugrasen's mysterious killing. A missing bag of rubies, an open safe, a missing will and the presence of an outsider - Jasleen - in the book, all contribute towards making the storyline more saucy.
However, without masking my disappointment, the first thing I would like to assert about this book is that it does not manage to let the mystery simmer adequately. Before the dish is cooked, an aroma of what lies beneath the lid manages to hit the reader's nose, all too easily. It happened with me. If you have even a minimal exposure to crime fiction novels, and a curious head which attempts to solve a murder mystery by its own, you will be able to figure out the killer much before the phrase 'plot thickens' could be applied to the narrative. And that is where this book looses out majorly.
The characters have been scripted nicely, so a thumbs up to the author for that. You will find a lot of medical jargon in this book, which will make the tale sound, both, intriguing and authentic. Many quote's from Thiruvalluvar's Kural find entry into the script, lending an otherwise dreary mystery an pinch of philosophy.
I would not call this book a page turner. This book will not leave you sleepless or steal your calm till you find out who the killer is. Ganapati, the lead investigator, is whom I understand to be the protagonist of the novel, and his character has been fashioned impeccably. However, a totally unnecessary love angle (supposedly) is weakly built around him, which serves no purpose in the narrative, not even that of a distraction. I could not place it anywhere, except for a useless attempt at adding some masala. I would have given it fewer, but for two things, I would rate this book with 2 stars on 5. These two things are- a good insight provided into medical details of the murder which reflect rich knowledge or research on the part of the author and for the locational setting of the book (South Delhi) which brought to my mind vivid pictures of my time spent in that area. All in all, it is perhaps only an average book - one that you might want to skip.
(Reviewed on request from Rupa Publications)