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Dipavali Sen

By Madhumita Bhattacharyya
Year 2016, pp. 312, Rs. 650.00

VOLUME XL NUMBER 11 November 2016

A breath of fresh air in the stale world of Indian detective fiction, this book is the third of the Reema Ray Mystery series, the first two being The Masala Murder and Dead in a Mumbai Minute. Titanium is a top security agency of India, founded by young Shayak Gupta. Reema Ray is one of its employees. She is tall, young, attractive, and also in love with Shayak who has earlier turned her down. The love angle is an essential part of the narrative, making Reema take all sorts of risks in tracking down a conspirator defaming Titanium and its founder. Reema shaves off her head and, with colleague Terrence, goes undercover to the ashram of guru George Santos. Goa-based and blue-eyed, George Santos preaches to an affluent, unhappy and adoring lot of people. (Not an uncommon phenomenon in Goa, I hear.). Two years earlier, the Mumbai police had confiscated a drug haul and this had ended in an explosion killing five people including a DCP named Daanish Alam. It is the trail of this crime that Reema and Terrence follow. They unravel an ugly government conspiracy to realize that Daanish Alam had not really died. The mystery which straddles Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia and Goa comes to an end with kisses between Shayak and and Reema.It is not all about crime and kissing, though. The book reveals the author’s awareness of Goa’s natural beauty. There are sensitive passages like: ‘The smooth winding roads rose and fell through verdant hills, crossing rivers over quaint bridges…for long stretches, there was no one in sight as far as the eye could see.’ (pp. 21–22). Or, ‘I headed out of the room, down the beautifully landscaped pathway with its canopy of trees. It felt like a rainforest, with the smell of the soil wafting up and the moisture hanging thick in the air’ (p. 116). But such lines or passages are kept to a minimum. Overall, the style is slim and trim, and in keeping with the pace of a mystery thriller. The cover is bright, even gaudy, but the black silhouette connotative of James Bond movies does introduce the theme. However, a simple map, pointing out Margao, Cavelossim and so on could have been useful for readers who have never been to Goa. Bangalore-based at present, the author brings to bear her experience as a writer and editor of The Telegraph of ...

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