This bothers me.
Not the blood, blackish-red, splattered all over up to the ceiling and on the fan, or the little chunks of flesh and bone still stuck to the wall like putty. After all, when there is a body on the bed, torso sawed almost in half, it should not surprise someone who makes a living from murders that the room would look like a blood bomb exploded in it.
After all, death is messy, though just a bit less than life.
It has been a while since I have read a crime thriller, and the macabre introductory paragraph of The Mahabharata Murders offers a thrilling narrative ahead. In addition, the plot has a Mahabharata connection – so I pick this one up, self-assured that I have an edgy thriller at hand. The first few pages reaffirm the promise of the introductory paragraph, but as one goes deeper into the story, one realises that the whole premise of the plot is as weak and distracted as the protagonist of the novel.
Now before I delve deeper into the highs and lows of The Mahabharata Murders, here is the teaser that the book’s blurb presents to the prospective readers.
One by one, the Pandavas fall.
Duryodhana claims to be reborn. In modern-day Calcutta.
A beautiful model. He cuts her open. His DRAUPADI.
He hammers surgical needles into his SAHADEVA. The head of NAKULA he severs.
Will Detectives Ruksana Ahmed and Siddhanth Singh be able to keep him from his ARJUN, BHEEMA and YUDHISTHIRA?
Or will Duryodhana finally win?
My two cents:
It is quite a task to discuss and review a thriller without giving away the spoilers. In the case of this particular book, it is all the more difficult because the plot is pretty convoluted.
The Mahabharata Murders revolves around a serial killer who derives pleasure about of giving his victims the goriest of deaths, albeit there is a method to his madness. His modus operandi is quite clinical, which is apparent by the precision with which he takes down his targets. What adds the element of mystery to the plot is the killer’s obsession with the Mahabharata, his fascination for Duryodhana and his frustration with Yudhishthira. Post every murder, he leaves behind comic book panels related to prominent Mahabharata characters.
Ruksana Ahmed, a homicide detective with the Kolkata Police, along with her partner, the brawny Siddhant Singh, is assigned to investigate the murders. However, unlike the stereotypical sharp-witted detectives, we have come to expect from crime thrillers, Ruksana Ahmed is quite a letdown. Her primary preoccupation in the plot is ruminating about her violent relationship with her husband or if not this then moping about her father’s death in the Bombay riots. When she is not dealing with these internal conflicts, she is preoccupied with thoughts about Siddhant Singh, her junior in the force, and a friend with benefit.
So much so, that even during aggressive confrontations with probable suspects, instead of taking lead, she is in the background busy observing and admiring Siddhant’s macho body language. Reckon, Ruksana Ahmed must be the lamest fictional detective I have come across in recent times.
Coming to the plot of the book, as I mentioned above, the premise of the murders is pretty twisted. When we read a murder mystery, it is very important that the conclusion establish a motive for the murder. There must be some valid, acceptable reason that incites a person to commit a crime. No matter how far-fetched or fancy it is.
The Mahabharat Murders is quite a letdown in this aspect. There are way too many loose ends and the motive for the murders is never established or explained with authority. And I am sure you will agree that lack of convincing resolutions in such plots leave readers feeling disappointed. In all, while the first few chapters of The Mahabharata Murders are engrossing, halfway through, the plot loses its zing, and the reading becomes an indifferent chore to find out who the murderer is.
More about the book:
Author: Arnab Ray
Genre: Crime Fiction
Ragini’s Rating: 2/5
Note: The publishers, Juggernaut, sent the review copy. Views are my own.