Category: Indian Author

Silent Witness ~ Sharmishtha Shenoy

Famous detective Vikram Rana goes to Kolkatta with his wife and daughter for a much needed holiday. While enjoying his mother-in-law’s hospitality and good food, he comes to know about the mysterious death of a former neighbour Akhil Garg. The insurance company, aware of Vikram Rana’s talent, asks Vikram to investigate the matter. No one knows if Akhil Garg’s death was accidental or if he was murdered deliberately. Vikram Rana, intrigued by the nature of the crime, sets out to unravel the mystery.

This is my first Vikram Rana book and I have to admit that I was not disappointed! The book has an intriguing plot, the twists and turns keep the reader engaged. Time flies while reading the book as you keep turning pages one after the other. For a mystery novel to be successful the author must plant seeds of doubt against the characters and author Sharmistha Shenoy succeeds in doing so. You, as a reader, keep doubting the actions and motives of all the characters. When the case is finally cracked, you are surprised by the actual culprit and marvel at the ingenuity of the author. There are no nagging loose ends, which are usually the downfall of many mystery novels.

The characters of the book are grey, their interactions with each other filled with rancour and jealousy. The foibles of humans, with greed, anger, revenge and jealousy are shown without any sugar coating or softening. The detailed description of their appearances and mannerisms helps the reader to create a mental image of the characters, making the book more relatable.

Vikram Rana, as the main protagonist, comes across as a rational detective who can unearth the secret. His interactions with his family, Inspector Lobo and food, makes him a very likeable character. In contrast to the dour, know-it-all detectives that we usually encounter in books, Vikram Rana is a breath of fresh air. He is young, funny and a family man, untouched by the darkness of the cases he usually solves.

The book made me want to visit Kolkata. The description of Kolkatta’s Park Street during Christmas is a marked departure of the usual Durga Puja setting of the metropolis. The beauty of the metropolis during winter months is something most of the authors have overlooked when they write about the City of Joy. Kudos to the author for showing the hidden side of the metropolis. Another point in favour of the author is the detailed description of the food which made me feel ravenous!

If you want to check out the book it is available on Amazon.

About the Author

Sharmishtha Shenoy is the author of the Vikram Rana Mystery series. The books under the series are “Vikram Rana Investigates,” “A Season for Dying,” “Behind the Scenes” and “Fatal Fallout”. She has also published a book of short stories, “Quirky Tales.” Her short stories have been published in efiction magazine and Woman’s era. She loves writing murder mysteries, the kind of books that she likes to read. Her favorite authors are Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie. She also likes the work of Satyajit Ray – especially the Feluda Series.Before starting to write, she had been an IT professional and had worked in TCS, Satyam, Infosys, and Microsoft.She is a big foodie and enjoys Biriyani (both Hyderabadi and Awadhi versions) and rasgullas like most Bengalis. She is also a lusty singer of the bathroom singing variety.

Sharmishtha on the Web:

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A Fun Way To Learn History: My Top Five Indian Historical Fiction Books

If you ask people about their favourite subject in school, for the majority of them, history will come at the bottom of the list. History, with its innumerable dates, the unending wars, the boring prosing emperors, the treaties, was one long snooze fest for most of the people in school. I, however, have always been very fond of history. I look at history as a series of stories and narratives all intertwining to create our current world. There are valuable lessons hidden in the past, many mistakes repeated by subsequent generations, who refuse to learn from the missteps of ancestors. For those who like history but shudder at the thought of reading dry, boring historical tomes, historical fiction is a genre which brings fun into this staid subject. Historical fiction is about real events which took place but with a super-imposition of characters( who may be real or a figment of the author’s imagination). The authors do take a few liberties but on the whole they stick to the facts. History comes alive in this genre, making it feel real to the readers. The books of this genre are not only entertaining to read, but also a treasure trove of knowledge.

I have stuck to India’s history for this list of my favourite historical fiction authors/series/books. There are, of course, authors like Ken Follet and Phillipa Gregory who are experts in historical fiction, but I have reserved them for another post.

  • Amitav Ghosh. The Marchijappi Massacre; The fragile ecosystem of Sunderbans; Rubber plantations and expatriate Indians of Burma; The opium wars and the journey of girmitiyas to Mauritius, all these and much more can be discovered through the pages of an Amitav Ghosh novel. Researched in detail the human narratives of the books ensnares the reader. The reader starts identifying with the characters who seem as if they are someone known. Amitav Ghosh, the master storyteller, draws the reader into his books, transporting the reader to Burma or Sunderbans or on a ship to the colonies. My favourite series of his is “The Ibis Trilogy” about opium wars and the shipping trade routes of that time.

  • Alex Rutherford. If you are in the mood to know more about the great Mughals, Alex Rutherford’s series is the one you should pick. Starting from Babur till Aurangzeb, these historical fiction books give an in-depth account of each of the great Mughals. The author draws extensively from the accounts of Bernier, Manucci and also from the biographies and the court chronicles. These books are easy to learn about medieval India through the lens of a dynasty which is still making its presence felt in India. My favourite book of the series is “Brothers At War” which chronicles the life of that oft over-looked Mughal, Humayun.

  • Indu Sundaresan. “The Feast of Roses” and “The Twentieth Wife” by Indu Sundaresan are a fictional account of Noor Jehan, the Queen who wielded immense power and challenged the societal norms. Noor Jehan becomes a living breathing character in these books. The reader becomes aware of Noorjehan as a woman, privy to her innermost thoughts, desires and machinations to hold on to the throne and power.

  • Aruna Chakraborty. “Jorasanko” and “Daughters Of Jorasanko”, are two books which bare the family secrets of the Tagore family. The Tagore family had an enormous impact not only on Bengal but also on India’s history. The Tagores influenced religion, art, literature, civil services and public life. The book, Daughters Of Jorasanko, puts a spotlight on the women of the Tagore family, who despite being talented were outshone by the men of this family. The Jorasanko Thakur Bari comes alive in the pages of these two books.

  • Zindaginama, (Krishna Sobti). A sprawling magnum opus, this book meanders through early 20th century rural Punjab. There are no protagonists or a particular storyline, there are multiple characters in the book, depicting the life of ordinary folk living their routine lives. Living their insular lives, the villagers cannot escape the winds of change flowing through the world. The book is about mundane everyday life in a village, and yet it offers a fascinating glimpse into a piece of history.

Have you read any of the above books? Do you have any recommendations which I may have missed?

Unloved In Love (The Story Of Imperfect People)~Rituparna Ghosh

“Unloved in Love” is the story of three people,Kiara, Kyle and Karan. Kiara Sen is intelligent, plays the guitar beautifully and has great friends in Saloni and Vinod. She is focussed on what she wants to achieve and is stubborn enough to fight for it. Yet, her mother’s constant criticism and nagging have left her feeling that she is not worthy of love and she suffers from low self-esteem. Kiara decides to start her own venture Bottoms’ Up, with her friend Saloni, fresh out of management school. The decision is partly due to her ambition and also to escape the matrimonial noose Kiara’s mother was insisting on. Kyle Wolf has had his life decided for him by birth. He is supposed to follow his father’s footsteps and take over Wolf Enterprises. He has been ambling along on that path until he meets Kiara and falls in love with her. Coming from a broken home Karan Shergill doesn’t believe in relationships or one-sided love. However, he too gets ensnared by Kiara. Despite all efforts to escape, he is unable to resist her magic.

To tell you the truth, when I first came across the book, I found the title a bit odd. “What do you mean by Unloved in love?” I mused to myself. However, once I started reading, I couldn’t stop myself from turning the pages and finished the book even before I realised! Written from the perspective of the three protagonists, Kiara, Karan and Kyle, you become privy to all their thoughts and emotions as the events unfold. For the same incident, you get to know intimately what each protagonist was thinking, you feel more involved with the characters as compared to a linear narrative. You are aware of each side of the story. The book has wry humour, the heartbreak feels as if your heart is breaking, the romance makes you sigh. This book is messy with emotions as I chuckled, laughed and cried in this book. Even though some might say, the end is predictable, it is not without its twists and turns, keeping you hooked.

The way the author has written the characters makes you root for all three to achieve their happy endings. Kyle, trapped by the expectations of his family and the path laid out for him, wants to break free but lacks the courage to go against his father. Karan, despite his playboy image, is sensitive and caring. His past makes him wary of relationships, which makes it difficult for him to stay and fight for the one woman he falls in love. I have to admit that Kiara was my favourite of the three. Kiara is someone most of us can relate too. She is a woman who is ambitious and yet full of insecurities. She doesn’t know her charm. She is so busy focussing on her supposed shortcomings that she forgets her own value and worth. Kiara, Kyle and Karan are people whom you might meet in real life, imperfect people. All three have their emotional baggage and insecurities, relationships are difficult for all three of them. They want to fight and hold on to their love, yet their self-doubts and lack of trust in their emotions, hold them back.

Only when I finished the book, I realised why the tittle was Unloved In Love. The book makes you believe in perfect endings. It makes you realise the fact that nothing comes easy, the path of love is strewn with ego, insecurities, self-doubt and heartbreak.

Liked my review? you can buy the book by clicking here : Click To Buy

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