Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Book Review: 3 and a Half Murders- An Inspector Saralkar Mystery by Salil Desai


Book: 3 and a Half Murders- An Inspector Saralkar Mystery

Author: Salil Desai

Pages: 328

Publisher: Fingerprint Publishing

Read: The paperback edition

Read in: 3+ hours

Plot Summary: Two corpses . . . a woman lying dead on her bed, a man hanging from the ceiling fan. 
A suicide note cum murder confession. 
And a name . . . Shaunak Sodhi.

When the case comes their way, Senior Inspector Saralkar has just been diagnosed with hypertension and PSI Motkar is busy with rehearsals of an amateur play.

What appears at first to be a commonplace crime by a debt-ridden, cuckolded husband, who has killed his unfaithful wife and then hung himself, soon begins to unfold as a baffling mystery. 

As clues point to a seven-year-old unsolved murder in Bangalore and other leads emerge closer home, Saralkar and Motkar find themselves investigating shady secrets, bitter grudges, fishy land deals, carnal desires, the dead woman Anushka Doshi’s sinister obsession with past life regression and her husband’s links to a suspicious, small-time god-man, Rangdev Baba.And then, suddenly, the murderer resurfaces and yet another life is in grave danger . . . 
Can Saralkar and Motkar get to the bottom of an unimaginably shocking motive and stop the malevolent killer from committing the fourth murder? 

General Thoughts: This is third Salil Desai book that I have read and I can safely say that this is the best book of the lot. Here is the link to my reviews of the other books by the same author.

Things I Liked: 

1. The premise of this book is what drew me to it. One reads about murder-suicides so much in the papers.. it is one of those family tragedies that, unfortunately, are very commonplace in urban India. The man of the house, usually, has some financial pressures, which he seeks to escape by killing his innocent family and then himself. So, a story which starts off seeming like a murder-suicide but turning out to be a bit more seemed very interesting and the book did not disappoint!

2. I was happy to get reacquainted with SI Saralkar and PSI Motkar! Their professional dynamic is hilarious but also true to life. The eager-to-please and hardworking but sometimes bumbling Motkar and the gruff Saralkar are a great little team!

3. The murder mystery itself was nicely crafted and layered. From a  seemingly simple domestic murder-suicide, the case expanded to recruitment fraud, illegal land selling, an unholy Godman and such. Of course, the biggest twist was also nicely done and you don't really see it coming as a reader.

4. The investigative process of the Pune Homicide Squad was depicted very well. The cops were very methodical and rigorous; they even paid attention of the kind of food the dead couple ate and the contents of their fridge, which in no small way was critical to Saralkar cracking the case.

5. The book is very fast-paced and there is not a chapter that is out-of-place or not required.

6. The twist and real reason behind the crimes in Pune, and even the ones in Bangalore, is quite unexpected and interesting. Though, I wish there was a little more time spent on how Saralkar actually made the necessary connections to crack the case.

Rating: 4.5/5
This is a good mystery/ crime thriller book and you won't be disappointed if you read it! 


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