Book Review: Seduced by Murder by Saurbh Katyal
When detective Vishal Bajaj receives a call from his old flame Aditi, he is seduced into a vortex of family lies and a murder. Vishal sets out to catch the murderer, while dealing with the resurgence of an irresistible desire for Aditi that he had buried years ago. Vishal is a witty, hard drinking, tough private detective who doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty as he races against time to catch a meticulous killer. Seduced by Murder weaves a web of noir and suspense that keeps the reader riveted and guessing till the end.
Read the excerpt here:
My Favorite Quote: ‘I felt content with being rather than becoming.’
Vishal Bajaj, a private detective is called in to investigate the murder of Anil Kapoor the first born to one wealthy Paras kapoor. ‘Vishals’ core competency however has been cheating husbands,’ thus far. Adding to his weaknesses of drinking and being a hopeless romantic at heart, his ex-flame, one of the daughters-in-law of Mr. Kapoor barges back into his life. A plethora of suspects emerge as the events unfold. How our dear Sherlock zeros in on the murderer is the story.
What worked for me: I had a whoohoo moment right in the first page as I am a sucker for good mysteries. The writing is fresh, crisp, lucid, seamless and gripping. I kept turning pages until I reached the climax. I thoroughly enjoyed the unexpected drizzle of humor. I loved the lines – “…time being a great healer is bullshit. Time heals nothing. Well, acne maybe.” And second best humor moment for me was – “Just like the eyewash they show in the movies – detectives leading a life of action and adventure. The only action we ever get is killing mosquitoes during an all-night watch. There were many others that would definitely draw a chuckle out the readers.
The characters were interesting and I liked how they were revealed layer after layer, which helped root the plot. Beautiful use of anaphora – ‘I wanted to break some bones. I wanted to drown someone. I wanted to stab someone.’
What didn’t work for me: The plot line felt familiar, and done umpteen number of times. The three sons and their wives are suspects and the murder revolves around money, sexuality and power. No surprise there. There were too many stereotypes for my liking. The protagonist is smart, funny and is alert at all times (even when he has been drinking all day, his grey cell team well with him in solving the puzzle). I may have overlooked that but making Pranay his roommate and assistant a dumb guy was frustrating. However, I must admit, it was presented in an intelligent manner. For example – ‘He went to the fridge, and got out some ice cubes. I loved it when he displayed efficiency at work’ was brilliant. There were many others that would draw a chuckle out the readers. However, my disappointment escalated with making Babu, the inspector, another stereotype. He is dumb and arrogant who talks down of the detective-clan. Our wise-man, Vishal cracks corny jokes to ridicule. (Too bollywood for me). If Vishal Bajaj is the Sherlock of the novel, I’d expect his assistant to fit the role of Dr. Watson, to say the least.
It made me wonder what’s with Vishal and breasts. On the one hand he yearns for Aditi and on the other he is aroused easily by the slightest provocation by women and their breasts!
One sentence stood out like a sore thumb for me “…a bit too vain, a bit too good-looking; and too fashionable to have any intellectual ambitions.”
And lastly, this is more an observation – Vishal’s chin is bleeding from the time he is attached by Abhijit Banerjee to the time he reaches his office to the time he reaches the zoo. It takes not less than say 45 minutes (at least that is what I derived) and I was stumped when Babu remarks Vishal’s chin to be bleeding. Either Vishal has Vitamin K deficiency and his blood doesn’t clot or he did rake the wound after he entered the zoo, to which there was no reference.
Page 18 – ’Santa Claus’.
Page 63 – ’French effect’.
Page 263 – ‘identity’ shouldn’t it be identify?
Conclusion: It was an enjoyable read right from the get go. I could guess who the murderer was somewhere half way along the story. From then on the incidents unfolded as expected until the last plot twist. It was indeed a stroke of genius. As Vishal himself puts it – ‘In spite of the circumstances, I admired the murderer’s master stroke.’ That did it for me.
**Thanks to Saurbh Katyal for giving me the opportunity to read your novel. Looking forward to reading more from you.