Book Review : Happily Murdered by Rasleen Syal

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22554140The festive season is over and as the lights have dimmed and the noise has calmed down, a strange feeling of emptiness is hovering around. Now an empty, idle brain is devil’s workshop who has a penchant for mysteries and murders. So my inner devil gets intrigued seeing the title of Rasleen Syal’s debut novel “Happily Murdered”. A large mug of coffee, my favourite cozy corner and I finished 246 pages at one sitting. And yes, I must say that the book is quite capable of holding your interest till the last page.

Rasleen has clearly confessed in the ‘Acknowledgment’ section that she is an ardent fan of Agatha Christie and that her muse owes a lot to Christie. So, as I started reading, truly speaking, my expectation was quite high.

Set in the backdrop of a fictitious town Ratnagiri, located at the foothills of The Lower Himalays or Siwaliks, the story opens up as the newly wed daughter-in-law of the Mehta family is found dead on the very next morning of her wedding, still clad in her wedding finery. It comes as a bolt from the blue to the  Mehtas and to their chagrin the police conclude this as an inside job. There are ample proofs against a particular member, Sara Dulla, but on a deeper look it becomes clear that someone is trying to implicate her in the crime. The “whodunit” game starts from here and all the nine members become suspicious of each other. The story continues in a style of parallel narration, one exploring the facts and incidents that happened on that fretful night and another is the narration of Gulab’s own life-story, in first person.

Just like Christie, Rasleen has portrayed “high society” characters with mainstream appeal. The character of Gulab is well created with an array of humanly emotions, all meddled up due to lack of one thing, LOVE, and for which her quest never is quenched. There are many clues left by the author here and there so that the readers can ransack their own brains to pinpoint the murderer. It could be anyone, the most practical and dominating father-in-law Mr. KD Mehta, the pompous and boastful mother-in-law Tina Mehta, Gulab’s husband, the philanderer Sid, who is in dire need of money, or any of the other conniving in-laws who some way or another have played important roles in Gulab’s life. In fact, a moment comes when you start even suspecting the octogenarian ‘Biji’, mother of KD Mehta.

The success of Rasleen’s pen lies here. She presents the characters with a psychological introspection and thus revealing the fact that how an unnatural death can drastically change the  nature and ambiance of an otherwise normal household. The characters confront each other in their process of becoming sleuths in their own way and many bitter facts surface up. The plot is not so fast-paced but the pleasure remains as the reader unknowingly starts to investigate along with the 9 members. The clever deceptions made by the author to manipulate readers’ thoughts and feelings has made it more difficult for them to solve the main mystery.

I’m a nitpick when it comes to thrillers ( I can’t help it). So there are certain things that has made the book enjoyable as a one time read only. It’s not like classic thrillers which are cherished every single time you go through them even knowing full well who has actually done ‘it‘.

I fail to understand why Gulab each time succumbs to Sid, when she is aware of his infidelity and is strong enough to raise her voice against other adversities.I would like to share one of Christie’s quotes in this regard, “Too much mercy….often resulted in further crimes which were fatal to innocent victims who need not have been victims if justice had been put first and mercy second”.  Gulab’s love for Sara and their friendship too look like a bit made-up. Normal feminine instinct does not let a woman to do so much for another woman who is in love with her own betrothed. Moreover, detection should always be logical and scientific as a process. Somehow I don’t find it logical enough…..the process of detection.

The language of Rasleen is a delight. Like a cool breeze blowing slowly though the enjoyment is often marred by typographical errors and even omission of words in at least two places.

However, “Happily Murdered” is a good read over the weekend. I enjoyed the book and is recommending it for all mystery lovers.

From my side it’s 3/5

The book was received as part of Reviewers Programme on The Tales Pensieve.

41 responses to “Book Review : Happily Murdered by Rasleen Syal

  1. Nice review as always…I liked the plot of the story where the reader is left to solve mysteries as well. I can too forgive the grammatical errors or missing words if I find find the story quite interesting.

  2. Reviewing mysteries is a tough job since you dont want to give away any plot points, and you have done a good job. Will share my thoughts once I get through reading it.

  3. You told almost all the ingredients author use to cook this story. Now tell us who done it… And save our time please.
    By the way the title works like a magnet.
    Its a perfect review.

  4. Nice review Mani and i will take it for a one time read. It sounds interesting. However i wanted to ask how was the suspense? was it great was it was a bubble burst end?

  5. Ha ha.> that is an interesting title for a book. Although a little confusing😀 .. Thank you for the review. As a mystery lover, it somehow rekindles my interest in this book🙂

  6. Got me interested; more than everything else, that awesome title there keeps asking me to have a look😀 Happy Halloween🙂😀

  7. sorry maniparna i don’t have a clue about reading books.sorry for saying this here.After a longtime i posted a long article.please don’t miss my radio story ok?

      • Maniparna the reason sometimes i ask silly things is i just feel like your family leaves very close to my house.Like when i open a window i can see you one day you should post a family photo of yours ok?
        Then how was the radio post?i know putting links is not a good thing.I was just thinking of stopping blogging then i red that nostalgic thing.sometimes we all write complicated or stylish things thinking that is what people gonna like but trust me it is the simple things it is the simple memories it is the simple writings that would touch hearts right?

    • Actually it varies from person to person….no creativity is 100% appreciated ever by population..isn’t it ? I think we should write, read, draw or do anything creative solely for our own pleasure…at least as long as we’re not supposed to make financial profit from it….🙂

  8. Hi Maniparna, instead of just thanking you for voting and commenting on my blogs, I am so privileged to meet you as a reviewer. It is a good piece of writing. I am reading the Millenium trilogy about which I like to tell everyone. But I lack your skills and patience. Thanks for giving me an opportunity to read this well written review.

  9. Maniparna, you have kindled my interest. This is a masterful review. I am too a die-hard fan of Christie and I tell you we can’t be satisfied by anything less than perfect. Christie does that to you. At present, I am reading a Bengali whodunnit on Desh. But its episodic and I have to wait for the next issue to vet my appetite, But Shekhar Mukhopadhya seems to be good. This is the first time I am reading him. Coming back to your review, spelling mistakes and bad editing can be heavy spoilers. I don’t know why these are not given due attention. These mostly happen when the book is self-published. I’d try to get my hands on this one but I have got so many pending reads. So I shall wait for a while before indulging myself with a new purchase. I would like to mail an ID to you as you are a seasoned review. Do share your e-mail address if you deem that appropriate.


    • Thank you…I always find your comment inspiring. Yes, you’re right, Christie does something to her die-hard fans…😀 I’m yet to read any of Shekhar Mukhopadhyay’s work…

      Will send you my e-mail id through FB…🙂

  10. Thanks Maniparna for an insightful review . I have read positively about this book at other sites also and after your verdict it’s a must for a rainy day.The cover also looks intriguing with the title… I am eager to know Gulab and the other high class characters in that elite setting reeking with mystery …..🙂

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