Sunday, 21 May 2017

Book Review: City of Death by Abheek Barua.

Book: City of Death

Author: Abheek Barua

Pages: 263

Publisher: Juggernaut Books 

Read On: Hardback

How Long it Took Me To Read: 2 days

Plot Summary: On a muggy monsoon afternoon Sohini Sen gets a call from the chief minister's office. A young woman from a well-connected family in the city has been found brutally murdered. Sen is brought back from a bureaucratic wasteland to the thick of the action.

An intelligent and intuitive investigator who struggles with addiction and depression, Sen is ill-prepared for an investigation that is a political minefield with TV anchors and tabloids baying for blood. As various interested parties, armed with power and money, try to manipulate the murder enquiry. Sen is forced to question the very possibility of justice. 

A moody atmospheric novel that is as much about the Indian city and the dark depth of the human mind as it is about crime and investigation, City of Death marks the debut of a brilliant new voice.

General Thoughts: I spotted this book months before I finally bought it. A murder mystery set in one of my favourite cities is also a pleasure to read!

Things I Liked:

1. I really enjoyed the writing. It was all smooth sailing, a great fete for a debut writer. I also enjoyed the pace of the book. It moved quickly and held my interest at all times.

2. Calcutta. Oh Calcutta! You beauty! Any book set in Calcutta totally has me at hello and this one was no different. Squalid, chaotic, messy, loud and righteous and warm. This city is magic. And I love reading about it and from it.

3. Sohini Sen is well written, she is battling an alcohol addiction and pops pills and is contemplating suicide, she is seemingly unlikable but somewhere along the line, when you get to know her history and all that she had suffered at the hands of the corrupt and inefficient bureaucracy, you start liking her and rooting for her. I really liked Ms. Sen. She is no Sherlock or Poirot but she is bright and sincere. I also really liked her second in command of this investigation- Arjun, another cop who is smart and is himself has suffered loss in his personal life. I liked the two of them individually and I enjoyed reading about their partnership.

4. The crime itself was gruesome and serial killers are always fun to read about. I know how insane this sounds but I love nothing more than a nicely written serial killer killing spree. (Don't judge me!)

5. The world of Bengali news media is shown in all of it's dramatic glory. Scandalous headlines and over jealous news anchors are so prevalent and this is captured so well in this book.

6. We also see little from the perspective of the killer and that when done in a mystery book, is something I always enjoy.

7. The main case, the death of a young girl from an affluent family and all the nasty secrets that come tumbling out of that household was pretty interesting and something I enjoyed quite a bit.

8. I absolutely loved the length of this book. It was perfect. Not too long, not too short- just right. I hate nothing more that mystery books that go on and on and aren't sharply edited. This was one was just right.

Things I Didn't Like: 

I did overall really enjoy this book and I do recommend it. However, the perpetrator of the crime was very, VERY easy to guess. Like pretty much the first time you meet the guy who turns out to be the killer, you know he is the one. Which come to think of not the best thing since this is a whodunit!

Also, there is so much missing from the killer's backstory that leaves you feeling a little unsatisfied. We are shown and told a little of his history but so much it is missing, I would have liked to have some of those holes filled.

Rating: 4/5

I breezed through this book on a Saturday afternoon and really enjoyed my time with it and I highly recommend it, it's perfect summer reading! 

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