Book Review: Killing Ashish Karve

Crime fiction in India especially Indian writing in English

Crime fiction in India especially Indian writing in English (IWE) has always lacked that one awesome, swish-buckling investigator. Barring the ones in regional literature translations like Byomkesh Bakshi or Feluda, our crime fiction is still very nascent as far as looking forward to a rocking investigator and his/ her awe inspiring criminal invincibility is concerned. Though authors like Piyush Jha and Madhumita Bhattacharyya are trying to create a local investigator with swag and style in their respective books, like I said IWE crime fiction is still very embryonic. Salil Desai in his debut book is attempting to fill that vacuum with Inspector Saralkar.

Killing Ashish Karve is the tale of a body found stowed away in the back seat of an abandoned car on a busy road in Pune and the investigation that follows. Inspector Saralkar – the enigmatic, chai-loving Punekar who is just back from a spiritual course forced upon him by the department, is itching for action and spearheads the investigation. As the investigation progresses, everyone is a suspect and skeletons start tumbling out. Some you see coming, some are surprises.

Desai packs a punch in his debut. He has worked well on etching well fleshed out characters and describes situations with a visual effect. The novel maintains a steady pace and does not fall for the trap of rushing the climax. The climax builds up – slow and steady, which is commendable. Though the motive behind the murder does feel like ‘Really? For THIS!’, but in the land of honor killings it doesn’t sound too far fetched too.

The thing about the novel that works best is the effort the author has put in describing the systematic approach of the police and step-by-step analysis of the situations and evidences. Desai takes the reader along and the ride is engaging and grey cells stimulating, which is the real fun is reading a crime fiction.

Desai’s Inspector Saralkar is desi and attractive in his brutish mannerisms but the author does not establish his investigator as the charm to look forward to in his forth-coming novels. This may also be considered a positive factor, as the reader will be looking forward to the mystery and not the master investigator.

Salil Desai impresses on his debut and if you love crime fiction, he should be on you to-read list. A new and interesting voice backed with ample research and a desi investigator.

p.s. FingerPrint Publications republished this novel under this new title, which was first published as The Body in the Backseat in 2011.

TitleKilling Ashish Karve
AuthorSalil Desai
Publisher/ ImprintFingerPrint! Publishers
Pages: 260
Genre/ Sub-Genre: Fiction/ Crime Thriller
Rating: 3.75 of 5.00
Reviewed for: Publisher

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