Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Book Review: Swear You Won't Tell? by Vedashree Khambete-Sharma

Book: Swear You Won't Tell? 

Author: Vedashree Khambete-Sharma 

Pages: 244

Read: Paperback edition 

Read in: 3-4 hours 

Plot Summary: Dead body, check. Disillusioned reporter, check. Dark and sinister secrets, check. 

When Mumbai Daily journalist Avantika Pandit is asked to interview her childhood nemesis Aisha Juneja, she knows it will be like an express bikini wax - painful, but quick. 

Then Laxmi, her former best friend, shows up dead. And suddenly Avantika finds herself turning into the reporter she used to be - a nosy little newshound with the self-preservation instincts of a dodo. 

Now, she has to meet old acquaintances she'd hoped never to run into again, try to unravel the puzzle of Laxmi's death, and ask the questions nobody seems to be asking - who is the man Laxmi was in love with? Why hasn't anybody heard of him? What does he have to do with her death? 

The answers could get her killed. But if the choice is between death and writing listicles, dying might not be that bad after all. Featuring schoolyard rivalries, the Backstreet Boys and a fat dollop of 90s nostalgia, Swear You Won't Tell? is part thriller, part whodunit, all fun.

Things I Liked: 
  1. This is a very charming-ly written book. The author's voice is very tongue-in-cheek and her protagonist's self-deprecating sense really shines through. So, that was a plus. 
  2. Avantika Pandit is a fairly likeable character. She is disillusioned with her job as a journalist writing random features and listicles and she can't wait to cover some meaningful stories. She is also a very lonely sort of a character- didn't have too many friends in school and she doesn't have too many friends now, which is why when she is asked to go interview a famous bag designer, who happened to be her high school nemesis, she was reluctant for multiple reasons. 
  3. The mystery itself- the death by drowning of Laxmi, Avantika's childhood ex-best friend- starts off in an interesting manner. There is a hint of a mysterious boyfriend, who her parents disapproved of because of which, she supposedly left home never to return. The same boyfriend that none of her friends knew about. Plus, there is someone who doesn't want Avantika meddling around in Laxmi's death. 
  4. There is a lot of 90s nostalgia in this book, which is quite, quite lovely! Those of us, who went to all-girls convent schools can, especially, relate to a lot of Avantika's school-related shenanigans! 90s were truly the best! 
  5. I also liked how Avantika's school flashbacks are meshed together with present-day events. The author pulls up the relevant flashbacks to fit with Avantika's life today or a brainwave or just her remembering something from the past suddenly. 
  6. There is also a semi-decent twist at the end, which is not bad, but is sort of easy to guess. 

Things I Didn't Like: 
  • Long time readers of this little blog know that we like our crime/ murder mystery and thrillers on this blog. So, it is very, very annoying if basic things like police procedure and such like are not researched at all by the author and are grossly misrepresented!
  • *SPOILERS* So, Laxmi's body is found washed up on Mahim beach and brought to some government hospital for a post mortem and identification, where another school friend recognises said body and calls the nemesis person, who then identifies Laxmi and informs her parents. *END SPOILERS* 
  • Now, here is where my problem is- where are the cops in all of this?! The moment a body washes ashore, the cops are called to the scene. If the body has identification, the cops call the deceased's next of kin. Then, the post mortem is done and the report goes to the cops. The post mortem is done by designated doctors and not an Ob-Gyn just because she happens to be the dead body's best friend! 
  • I really wish the author had done her basic homework! Even if the death due to drowning was accidental or a suicide, the police case is not closed till the investigation is complete. According to this book, the police were not involved at all! I get it that you don't want to write another parallel investigative track and create new characters, but this is just sheer laziness! 
  • Avantika is the only one investigating this "case" and she doesn't even manage to fully crack it apart from making one very educated guess! 
  • The author should've stuck to writing this book as a slice-of-life/ "chick lit" type of book and not made it into a crime thriller/ murder mystery! 

Rating: 2/5 

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