Book Review: Murder Milestone- An Inspector Saralkar Mystery by Salil Desai

 

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  • ISBN : 978-9390183661 
  • Publisher : Fingerprint! Publishing
  • Release Date: 1 August 2020 
  • Genre: Suspense, Thriller, Murder Mystery 
  • Price: Rs. 250/-

 About the Book


“HAPPY HANGING!” Saralkar growled with all the spite in his system and stormed out of the cell. Weeks before serial killer Dharmesh Solanki is to be executed, he wickedly burdens Senior Inspector Saralkar with a macabre secret Saralkar would’ve been better off not knowing. Impelled to verify Solanki’s disturbing claim, Saralkar and PSI Motkar reopen the sixteen-year-old case, for which the senior inspector had won a police medal. And out tumble intriguing leads and shocking facts that had fallen through the cracks back then. Worse, only a motley group of elusive characters might form the shaky bridge to the murky truth—a missing ex-constable, a gluttonous witness who had narrowly escaped being murdered by Solanki, Solanki’s biographer, the serial killer’s own son, and the daughter of one of his victims. 

Meanwhile another dangerous murderer is busy prowling around for victims to notch up an impressive body count. In the midst of these crazy events, Saralkar’s marriage faces rough weather, while Motkar’s hands are full, investigating a trail of mysterious suicides. As the duo struggle to cope, personal tragedy strikes Saralkar and a tip-off propels Motkar into confronting an astonishingly diabolical psychopath on his own. Will Motkar prove up to the challenge? Will Saralkar recover his mojo in time? And will Saralkar and Motkar ever make sense of the complicated chain of murders and suicides and the dark secret of a despicable serial killer sentenced to death? 

About the Author 


Salil Desai is an author, columnist and film-maker based in Pune. Murder Milestone (2020) is the fourth book of his much-acclaimed Inspector Saralkar Mystery Series, on the heels of 3 and a Half Murders (2017), The Murder of Sonia Raikkonen (2015) and Killing Ashish Karve (2014). The Inspector Saralkar Mystery series has been optioned by Times Studio Originals (now Junglee Pictures) for adaptation into a web series. Salil’s other popular books are Murder on a Side Street (2011), Lost Libido and Other Gulp Fiction (2012), as well as The Sane Psychopath (2018), the screen rights of which have been picked up by Endemol India recently. 

Over the years, Salil’s books have received good reviews in The Hindu, New Indian Express, The Pioneer, Bangalore Mirror, DNA, First City, The Tribune, etc. His work has been praised by veteran authors Dr Shashi Tharoor, Shobhaa De and film-makers Sriram Raghavan and Sujoy Ghosh. An alumnus of Film & Television Institute of India (FTII), Salil also conducts intensive workshops in creative fiction writing, story and scenario design, screenplay writing and film-making at leading liberal arts institutions, media and communication colleges and other renowned organizations across India. 

As a newspaper columnist, over 400 articles, op-ed pieces, features and travelogues written by him have appeared in The Times of India, Indian Express, DNA, The Tribune, Reader’s Digest, Deccan Herald, The Hindu, etc. Salil was also one of the four international authors worldwide selected for the HALD International Writers’ Residency in Denmark, hosted by the Danish Centre for Writers & Translators in June 2016. For more info, visit www.salildesai.com.


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The Review

I have always enjoyed Salil Desai's work. Starting with the minimalistic cover design to the high on suspense story line, this book is a perfect entertainer. 

You can read my review of his previous works here: 3 and a Half Murders | Sane Psychopath

Growing up reading Agatha Christie, Sidney Sheldon and the likes, I always wondered why don't we have such similar stories in Indian literature. I wanted to read about murders on Diwali, (instead of Christmas or Thanksgiving which is a common troupe!) , of serial killers in India and of detectives who were Indians. The Inspector Saralkar series was the answer for my search. I have loved and devoured all the books featuring this character written by author Salil Desai. 

Now, lets talk about the book.

Beginning with the pros - The author has a style with characters. All the books that I have read of him, have such strong characters that it is difficult to forget them easily once you have finished the book. He gives a unique trait to them to make them unforgettable. I enjoy stories which have such characters for they are not only relatable, they are also engaging. They make the story come alive with their eccentricities and add more layers to the already complex narrative.

The plot involves Inspector Saralkar along with his trusted aide PSI Motkat who embark on a mission buy re-opening a sixteen year old case with an aim to give it a closure. Interestingly, there are multiple sub-plots overlapping this major plot which piques the readers' interest to unimaginable heights. 

Bringing together his experiences as a film-maker, I find Desai's works to be visual in every sense. His stories come alive in those pages, the scenes, the people and the places - everything can be visualized in his words. 

Desai has a knack of revealing deeper insights into human psychology through his stories without making them complex. One is bound to wonder, at the sheer magnitude of the thoughts a human mind can conjure. And also look at ourselves in awe, admiring our capability to think so much which albeit can make or mar things beyond recognition. It is almost as if he kidnaps his characters and captures all their traits in the minutest manner in his books. 

The language used throughout the novel is extremely lucid. Easy to connect and go with the flow. The reader is not only relishing the book but also having fun. There were ample glimpses of the popular OTT series The Family Man featuring actor Manoj Bajpayee while reading this book. 

The tension infused with humor arising out of day-to-day life with the primary characters is enthralling to read. It also plays the role of ensuring the book doesn't get too heavy for a reader with its mystery and suspense elements playing hide and seek in the narrative. Desai's ability to capture the finer nuances of a scene and highlight them in the narrative to grab a reader's attention is flawless. His attention to detail makes it enjoyable for a reader to follow the chase and also enjoy it. The guessing game is too strong to be missed and yet as a reader one seems to fall for the bait every time.

The character arc of quite a few secondary characters was also impressive. Many a times, secondary characters get step-motherly treatment and are oft-ignored in the narrative. Desai here, does complete justice to every character in the narrative, by bringing them all together to create a mammoth plot which completes the scary picture he started painting in the beginning of the book. 

The story begins with typical hints of it being a whodunnit and gradually turns into something unfathomable. The climax is something that totally left me flabbergasted - it was not something I could have guessed. And I think, this is the strongest point of this book. As someone who reads a lot, after a point you develop the ability to see through a lot of plots and can guess the killer way before the book is even half way through its plot. I admire Desai's writing prowess which made this book a proper page turner which left me guessing till the end. Even after the major reveal in the climax, I was stunned for quite sometime. I kept thinking about the different hints dropped throughout the novel and still could not have guessed this. There are absolutely no loose ends in the narrative and towards the end it all ties up to a nerve-chilling climax. 

Coming to the cons- the only con I felt in this book was somewhere in the middle it seemed to drag a bit but then I guess that usually happens with thrillers. As there is so much happening in the beginning and towards the end that when things slow for a bit to show a breather for the reader from a fast paced read, it might seem dragging to a few. I will not consider it to be a con though because of this.



Conclusion

A perfect fast-paced thriller delivering edge of the seat excitement for a reader. Highly recommended for the storyline, narrative, characters and the climax.

(P.S: The climax will blow you away!)

P.P.S: If you have not read other works by this author, please do. He can easily be called India's answer to Agatha Christie. 

Foodie Verdict 

This book is like Dryfruits Laddoo - Fully packed in each bite, nutty, crunchy, sweet and perfect for your health ( Read: Mind!)

Image Source: hebbarskitchen.com

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