Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Murder Mysteries (Book Review: Vikram Rana Investigates by Sharmishtha Shenoy)

Title: Vikram Rana Investigates
Author: Sharmishtha Shenoy

Vikram Rana, an ex-cop is now a private detective. Through Sharmishtha Shenoy's Vikram Rana Investigates, as he solves his first case and then another, we get to know this principled man and get familiar with his life.
The two episodes, The Mysterious Affair at the Lohia Mansion and The Sonia Sinha Case are both murder mysteries.

Episode 1: The Mysterious Affair at the Lohia Mansion

Vikram Rana is finally working on his first case.

Vikram's childhood friend, Rohan Lohia's sister-in-law has died and foul play is suspected. 

The filthy rich Lohia family with its' many secrets make for interesting unraveling through the story and keeps you guessing about the real motives of each one of them. 
The family politics of Lohias does remind one of a famous, rich family of India.

Set in Hyderabad, Vikram Rana Investigates is a good mystery where you, as a reader, may suspect many, but can not really guess who is the culprit.

Episode 2: The Sonia Sinha Case

Another murder mystery, The Sonia Sinha Case has a different feel to it compared to the previous one.
There is no childhood friend around to pave the way, although the Inspector is still around.
Since it is not even known who Sonia Sinha is when the case starts, and to getting to unravel the confusion around many possible killers, this one is a moves swiftly.

In both the cases, Vikram is working alongside the police. His being an ex-cop, this does can sense from the story point of view, but when a private investigator works in competition with the authorities, it does add an edge. 

Food plays an important role. What is eaten and where is, after all, an integral part of Vikram Rana's life as he is clearly a foodie.

On the other hand, when a vegan talks about ordering a pizza, you do wonder what is going on. By the way, Vikram is not the vegan in this book.

His wife, Veena with a corporate job, is quite his opposite in many ways.
The relationship of these two does provide a jollity at times, but as you get more familiar you do end up wondering about the strength and honesty of the relationship.

I did not understand, or relate to, the flip-flops in their relationship.

One thought that I had after reading this book, that surprised even me, was that I would have liked this story more had it had some strong, positive female characters.
There are interesting female characters, but they are either manipulative, or negative, or just plain meek and insensible.
Did I think this because the author of this book is a female, is a question I have asked myself.
And it is not as if I go around searching for such female characters in the books I read, or that it is a criterion for how much I like a book.

I think I would love to read a sequel to this one with Vikram Rana investigating other cases, with some favorable female characters playing an important role in the story.

Vikram Rana Investigates (both episodes) make for a good read because the murder mysteries are interesting. The setting of the mysteries, Hyderabad is woven into the story with getting frequent mentions.

All in all, Vikram Rana Investigates is a good, easy read for lovers of Mystery. But I would have loved if a few details, including the relationships, had been more finely defined.

My Rating: 3/5

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I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Vikram Rana Murder Mysteries set in Hyderabad…… 

The Mysterious Affair of the Lohia Mansion 

When the glamourous socialite Richa Lohia is poisoned in her mansion in Jubilee Hills, her brother-in-law hires his mate, ex-cop Vikram Rana, to solve this murder. This is Vikram’s first case and he, along with Inspector Gopi Reddy, must solve the case even if they face opposition from the richest and powerful family in Hyderabad, who would stop at nothing to defend themselves. 

The Sonia Sinha Case 

When property developer Krishna Dhavala is stabbed to death in Necklace Road, everyone suspects Mrs. Dhavala to be the murderer of her alcoholic and abusive husband. But is that really the case? Vikram Rana and Inspector Reddy have a tough time uncovering the murderer and Vikram himself almost dies trying to solve this case. Experience the mystery along with the duo as they fight their way through the maze of lies, deceit and greed. 

From "The Mysterious Affair of the Lohia Mansion"
"Kinshuk sprang out of bed and followed his uncle, Rohan along the passage to his mother Richa’s bedroom.
Rohan’s wife, Kiara joined them along with Richa’s personal maid Lakshmi and two more servants. Everyone seemed to be in a state of awestricken fear.
Kinshuk turned to his uncle, ‘What should we do? Father is not here.’
Never had Kinshuk’s weak nature been more apparent, Rohan thought in distaste. Rohan rattled the handle of his sister-in-law Richa’s door violently, but with no effect. The whole household was aroused by now. The most alarming sounds were audible from the interior of the locked bedroom. Clearly something must be done."
What could have been going on the room? What triggered it?
Mrs Lohia was lying in her bed having seizures. In her agony she must have overturned the bedside table. As they entered, her limbs relaxed and she fell back on her pillow.
"I cannot see properly" she complained. Rohan and Kinshuk looked at each other helplessly. A strangled cry from the bed startled them. A fresh bout of pain had seized Richa. The seizures were terrible to behold. At that moment dr Agnihotri pushed his way into the room authoritatively. At the same instant, Richa cried "Rohan.... Rohan" then she fell back on the pillows motionless. 
Why was Richa killed? Why did she take Rohan's name?
From the Sonia Sinha case:
"He reached the meeting place at 8 pm sharp. The headlights of his car revealed a woman in a burqa waiting by the roadside. She waved her hand. Krishna stopped the car and she got in. As she removed her veil, Krishna started in surprise. At the same time another man got into the back of his car. Confused, Krishna looked at the man. Then his eyes widened in fear."
Whom did Krishna see? Who was the woman in burqa?

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Sharmishtha Shenoy loves writing murder mysteries, the kind of books that she herself likes to read. Her favorite authors are Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie. She also likes the work of Satyajit Ray – especially the Feluda Series. She was born in Calcutta and has done her post-graduation from University of Reading, Great Britain. She lives in Hyderabad.

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