When I started this blog, I never thought I’d be doing a book review. The reason for that being I never considered myself qualified enough to review others’ works. Of course, I can give my opinions but as they say Opinions and Reviews are not the same.
As a part of the Blogchatter eBook Carnival, (Super Cheap Plug: My book ‘Tales With A Twist” is also a part of the same. Grab your free copy from here.) I’ll be giving my opinions on few books and the first one on the list is ‘Deal of Death‘ by a good friend from the Blog-o-Sphere, Sonia Chatterjee.
When the peaceful Munshiganj is affected by paranormal activity, detective Raya Ray steps in. Sharmila feels wronged when she’s told she delivered a stillborn. A dead body, a secret inside the temple, soon Ray realizes no one is what they appear to be.
Raya Ray, an up and coming detective battling a huge personal tragedy and its fallout, is requested by the sister of her maid to solve the case of her stillborn baby in the fictional town of Munshiganj. A skeptical Raya acquiesces only because she is tired of the adultery and missing pets cases she’s been inundated with. What Raya doesn’t expect is to land smack in the middle of a mysterious sequence of events in the idyllic little town. What happens next? Read ‘Deal of Death’ to find out.
ALERT: POTENTIAL SPOILERS AHEAD
My views in bullet points:
- Raya Ray: Any good detective fiction is anchored by a compelling lead. As a huge fan of the detective fiction genre, I always look for the myth behind the detective. ie., Do I want to read few hundred pages about a character who I might not be invested in? Some of my favorite fictional detectives are Hercule Poirot, Sherlock Holmes, Feluda, Harry Bosch, John Rebus, Alex Delaware and Harry Hole. Most of these characters have a critical flaw or will be battling some personal demon and those make the readers invest in them. The author hits a six with the first ball by making her fictional lead, Raya Ray, a well rounded (pun unintended) character that I could invest in. Raya is nowhere near perfect – she’s battling personal tragedy, a change of location and career, and a long list of mundane cases. Raya, though very smart, is a little bit naive and that is something she’s gonna have to work on as she progresses in her career.
- The Story and the Setting: The central plot is very clever and though regular detective fiction aficionados might be able to guess the story’s direction beyond a point, the author can be commended for conceiving an engaging story especially considering the fact that this is her debut. I loved the setting of the story – Munshiganj. Though it might have been a figment of the author’s imagination, I could visualize it due to the descriptions of both sight and smell of the location. For all you know, Munshiganj could just be any little town in West Bengal.
- Narration: There are a couple of hiccups at the beginning, where the narration switches between Raya and her husband Krishanu’s PoV, but once Raya reaches Munshiganj, it becomes very clear and smooth flowing. The language is crisp and simple, just how I like it. Call me weird, I don’t like the words taking the attention away from the story.
- Strong Plot
- A very strong central character
- Writing Style
- Fantastic twist just before the end
- The end seems a little rushed. I know that the whole story was conceived and written in just under a week and I might sound petty pointing this out despite knowing the background, but this point need not be seen as a weakness, but as an opportunity to flesh the story out more for future editions.
- The Antagonist: Again, this is a continuation of the first point but I feel the antagonist is not on Raya Ray’s level in terms of being a well rounded character. A hero is only as good as his villain, eh? The author should invest a bit more in the mythology of her antagonists.
For a debut author, Sonia Chatterjee has dished out a very entertaining detective story with a compelling female lead. Barring a couple of nitpicks I have mentioned, Deal of Death is an entertaining book I’d recommend to anyone who loves a good mystery. Thumbs Up!