Book Review: The Murder of Sonia Raikkonen

Tales, Pensieve, Book, Review, Murder, Sonia, Pune, Crime, Thriller, Fiction

The Murder of Sonia Raikkonen is Salil Desai‘s 4th published work and 3rd crime thriller. The book brings back the team of Inspector Saralkar and Constable Motkar from Desai’s debut – Killing Ashish Karve. And thankfully so. After a dismissal 2nd book – Murder on the Side Street, where the author attempted with a group of young investigators, I am glad to be reading a thriller featuring the cutting chai loving, emotionally conflicted and swish buckling Punekar – Saralkar.

The book begins with the discovery of the mutilated corpse of a Finnish tourist in Pune –              Sonia Raikkonen. Saralkar and Motkar are on the case but stand clueless because apart from the identity of the victim and a white sandal to call evidence, everything is blind. What at first looks like a case of rape and  murder is not going anywhere and looks like a dead end until Saralkar’s old Inspector Patange, seeks his help to establish the identity of another murder victim on the outskirts of Pune. The victim – an old man – is found not just with injury marks that match those found on Sonia’s corpse but also wearing the other white sandal. Now the police not just had the completed pair of the white sandals but also a lead that this is something more sinister than a crime of passion.

Desai is back in the game with really well etched and fleshed out characters. We get to see more of Saralkar and Motkar, both of whom are two ends of the spectrum. The disciplined and calm – Motakar and the hard and tearing at the edges – Saralkar, make for an amusing pair. At times the line of police hierarchy etched clearly between them and at times you do see something near friendship between them. Desai also shows us the marital discord that Saralkar is going through and the familial strength that Motkar draws from his family. It shows us why both of them are the way they are and Desai gets the reader closer to the protagonists with this. They become people that we look forward to and not just clogs in the Indian judiciary system.

The plot this time is strong unlike Desai’s 2nd book. It nearly gives us a feel that he just jumped from the 1st book to the 3rd and the 2nd happened in some other space! The narration is smooth, the twists are well timed and the pace is a breeze. The best thing about a thriller is that the reader gets to play the whodunit game and Desai engages the reader well. Once the second corpse makes an appearance, the investigation moves and the cards start opening up, one by one. Desai builds up the tension well and it is a ride worth the excitement. And a thriller lover will love this.

The book fails where Desai’s debut failed too – The climax. The climax does not surprise or shock you. And that is where all the build up and excitement falls flat. The climax does not live up to the build up of the narration and can be called disappointing. Desai unfortunately fails at the most important juncture in a thriller. A thriller should end well. A good end to a thriller can only be a well justified surprise or shock. It is the thrill of the writer’s mind beating that of the reader that makes thrillers a favourite genre, world over.

Climax disappointment not withstanding, this ride with a desi investigator and exciting twists, is a well worth the time. Desai is way ahead of the game compared to many others Indian authors out there. A read you will enjoy if crime thrillers is your preferred genre.

Title: The Murder of Sonia Raikkonen
Author: Salil Desai
Publisher/ Imprint: FingerPrint Publishers
Pages: 336
Genre/ Sub-Genre: Fiction/ Crime Thriller
Rating: 3.75 of 5.00
Reviewed for: Personal Copy

Read the reviews of other books rated 3 star by Team TP HERE

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