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A Debut Novel

G.J.V. Prasad

By Doug Gunnery
Partridge India, 2014, pp. 241, Rs. 450.00


This novel is by the well-known academic, the sociologist of middle-class India, Dipankar Gupta. The Crime Writers Festival at Delhi revealed that he had written LTY under the pseudonym of Doug Gunnery. I wish I hadn’t known. A former colleague at JNU, even if one I don’t personally know, is a difficult writer to review. It is especially so in this case because LTY is DG’s first novel. I cannot begin a review of his book by saying that this quarter boiled crime novel stutters from the start to nearly half way, and stutters again at the end. A tribute to all the popular crime/detective fiction that we all devoured in our youth, especially of the Dashiell Hammett (and James Hadley Chase?) variety, LTY may have worked far better if the writer had tried less hard. The novel reads like an intelligent parody for the most part (this because I know it is written by the well-know academic etc.) or simply a badly written novel (which I would have thought if I didn’t know who had written it) by an American who flunked his MFA or aced it for the wrong reasons. In any case, you want him to go back to the degree, spend some more time there and then forget all that he has learned. And then write again. Don’t get me wrong, though this is a putdownable thriller, you do get hooked half way through and want to get to the end. A novel set in Midwest America (that is its USP), this is a novel that attempts to show us the dynamics of familial relations (especially between father and son and between two half-brothers) when stress and violence bring them together. Robin Miller, the protagonist, is a journalist, whose life turns topsy turvy when his father, Jason, decides to visit him unannounced to share some secret with him about the Vietnam War. Robin leaves for work before hearing what his father has to say and realizes his folly only when his father is murdered during the day. He now has to figure out why his father came to visit him, why his father was murdered, what was the secret that he may have taken to his grave. He is sucked into a cat and mouse game (no Tom and Jerry show this—people are beaten up and/or killed) not ...

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