Book Review: No Illusions in Xanadu by Ruby Gupta

About the Book

When the devilishly handsome, legendary Bollywood superstar Rajvir Kapoor is found dead in the thirtieth-floor study of his swanky new home, Xanadu, the entire country is aghast. 

Barely hours before his death, Xanadu, had been teeming with the pick of the country's elite: hot-shot celebrities, business magnates and close friends and family of the iconic actor - all of whom had come together for the grandest party Mumbai had ever seen.

Investigations reveal that Rajvir Kapoor was murdered, and now everyone is a suspect.

Professor Shantanu Bose, eminent nano-expert and part-time sleuth, a house-guest at the time, is willy-nilly forced to join the investigation. He finds himself in an alien world of the glitterati and their idiosyncrasies, where murky secrets are revealed and facts muddled. As Shantanu struggles to piece together the puzzle amidst the confusing moral codes adopted by the people of this starry realm, glamorous Mumbai seduces him and he finds himself irresistibly attracted to the enchanting prime suspect .

Will the professor manage the tightrope walk between emotions and justice?

About the Author

After her unputdownable bestseller, A Degree in Death, Ruby Gupta is back with another thrilling Professor Shantanu Bose mystery. This author of eight books, including the hugely popular Maya, and a literary critique of Khushwant Singh's fiction, is currently penning her next thriller. She is based amidst the misty Himalayan foothills where she loves to concoct heady mixes of mystery and emotions. 

The secret lives of celebrities and eminent personalities have always acted as an interesting backdrop for any writer. Taking cue from the glossy film magazines brimming over with gossip regarding these secret lives, author Ruby Gupta weaves an impeccable tale of intrigue and mystery in No Illusions in Xanadu.

Though the story revolves around the murder of a prominent star Rajvir Kapoor, the main protagonist of the novel is Professor Shantanu Bose - an eminent nano-expert and a part-time sleuth. The fact that he himself was present at the location of crime with many others, adds to the mystery element of the story. The narrative is gripping from the word go. Everything about this novel is exciting and enthralling. Clearly reminiscent of Sidney Sheldon and Agatha Christie type of writing, Gupta's writing skills are par excellence. She ensures there is not a single dull moment in the story and there is no way one can predict what happens next.

The plot is full of twists and turns, ensuring the reader is hooked onto it till the last page. The way the investigation unfolds and pieces all the happenings together leading to a nail-biting finish is what makes this book an un-put-down-able read. The novel is pacy and full of unexpected surprises. The descriptions in the novel are intriguing. Picking up juicy details from real life, Gupta has woven an intricate plot with a perfect mix of fact and fiction. There were many instances in the book when I was reminded of the movie Page 3 by Madhur Bhandarkar based on the grandeur of celebrities.

The story unfolds like a movie before the eyes, sucking the reader deep into the narrative. It can be easily compared to any good edge-of-the-seat thriller movie. Every scene is so well articulated that you cannot help but feel the awe.  While stories about stars have always been intriguing, what makes this story different is that it shows the fragility of their grand lives. Their fears and insecurities coupled with the instability of their careers, makes a compelling case for a reader to feel overwhelmed about it all. 

It was the strongest motive that would lead to solving the care, and not the strongest opportunity!

No Illusions in Xanadu is a multi-character story and Gupta does complete justice to each one of them. Many a times it is found in such novels that the characters look extremely similar, with rhyming names - making it difficult for a reader to recollect and connect during the story. That is where Gupta is strongly different. Her characters have a huge recall value due to their unique characteristics. Even when many of them are from the same industry, they are more than being mere caricatures of Bollywood stars. The well rounded characters make for an interesting read, with their unique back stories adding layers to the already mysterious case of murder. 

Though the climax looks like a deliberate attempt to answer each and every question that might have crossed a reader's point all the while reading the novel, it still adds up to the narrative arc and the build up before the revelation. The cover of the book could have been more intriguing, especially with the elements present in the novel. There is a lot that could have been played around with to make an eye-catching cover. 

Overall, a brilliantly written thriller strongly recommended for its gripping narrative!