Book Review: Murder in Amaravati
A crime thriller should have pace. It should have multiple suspects. All suspects should have motives. All motives should be equally compelling. And finally the fun is in spite of all the suspects and their motives, the murderer turns out to be someone we (the reader) suspected having some connection all along but never could put our finger on it. Well, I may as well as be speaking about Murder in Amaravati. This book has it all. I had heard good things about the book though when I looked it up I found the cover very gory and had put it on Will read, sometime list. But when Sharath’s PR called me to read the book last month, I guess that sometime had arrived. I choose to read his debut of his two published works and here I am quite out of breath as I close the back cover.
Sharath Komarraju in his debut work takes us to Amaravati – a sleepy small village on the banks of river Krishna in Andra Pradesh, India. He introduces us to the sounds and silence of the place, slowly building up to introduce us to the central theme of the book. We meet a lot of the suspects before we meet the crime. And then we meet Padmavati – the central character of the book – cold dead – in the sanctum sanctorum of the main Kali temple of the village. Padmavati was beautiful, young and desirable and like the back cover says Men wanted her and women hated her. She was the village hostess and she gave everything to anyone who came seeking – her laughs, her understanding, her empathy, her advice, her body – everything but for a price. Spiritual to personal – many in the village had many reasons to hate her and to want her dead.
A priest who condemned Padmavati’s ways and had a daughter who had gone wayward, a village chief who can never hear a voice of denial, a postman who may have slipped to Padmavati’s charms once in his perfect marital life, a wheel chair bound immigrant man whose past is an enigma to the village, the village chief’s young son who unbelievably returns from the city and stays back to take care of his paralyzed and support his father. These and many other characters that may have the perfect reason to want the village hostess dead. Venkat Reddy inspite of being the normal-never-ever-interested Head Constable cannot shake off Padmavati’s innocent justice seeking face and he decides to adorn the overalls of a detective and dig deep till all masks of the suspects peel off.
Sharath made me read through the night. Quite literally. Had I not had office the next day and if I had not begun reading the book so late at night I would not have put the book down. The narration moves at a very good pace. The twists are complex and interesting. The writer not just writes a crime thriller he also scrapes at the psychological layers of his characters. Anyone who has ever been to an Indian village will find his writing quite visual too.
The thing that did not impress me about the book was firstly the title – pretty unoriginal and tacky I would say. Secondly, the cover. As eye catchy as it may look amongst a pile of books – the blood-red colour and goddess Kali’s tantric face was like I said at the start – gory. It made me not want to pick up the book in the first place.
But not withstanding the first impression, Sharath has written a gem of a thriller as his debut.
Love thrillers? Don’t give this a miss. It is thrilling with a mast south Indian tadka. The book is as culturally educating as it is exciting. Looking forward to his next which coincidentally is being launched tomorrow in Bangalore – .
Thank you for the copy Sharath and Soumya.
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