|Image Source: Google|
Title: Happily Murdered
Author: Rasleen Syal
Publisher: Srishti Publishers
Genre: Mystery/ Drama
Price: Rs. 111 on Amazon.
The author, Rasleen Syal got in touch with me after checking out my reviews on Goodreads. She liked my detailed and honest review and wanted me to review her book. Very well knowing the fact that I dissect every paragraph and every word. I hadn't even heard of her before that, but when I read the gist of the book I wanted to read more. She sent me a copy of the book and I sat down to read it immediately. I finished it in a day and was strangely surprised. Not because I finished reading it in a day. The story surprised me.
Gulab Sarin, the radiant new daughter-in-law of the influential Mehta family dies mysteriously on the very next night of her wedding. The murder is an inside job, the police are certain. It could be anyone, the adulterous husband, conniving in-laws, jealous friend and the love struck ex-fiance. With an aim to save themselves and incriminate others, it is not long before these suspects turn into amateur detectives, hunting for clues and delving into hidden secrets only they can unearth. They coerce, pry and blackmail in an attempt to get to the bottom of this mystery. Will one of these nine unlikely sleuths finally unravel the mystery behind Gulab's death and avenge it? Or will the truth die as viciously as Gulab?
Gulab Sarin wants only one thing from the world. Love. But that is the only thing that she does not get. She is a child of a broken family and is unappreciated by all her cousins who call her 'Weirdo'. Humiliated and lonely, a young Gulab finds refuge in the arms of her friend Sid Mehta, the scion of the Ratnagiri royal family. She even befriends his younger brother Yuvi and his elder brother Vikram. As they grow up, Yuvi falls head over heels in love with Gulab, but Gulab has eyes only for Sid, whom she loves truly, madly and deeply. The Mehtas extended family include Vikram's wife Monica and her family the Dullas. Monica's twin siblings Sara and Ned, fall obsessively in love with Sid and Gulab respectively. Sid and Gulab break up due to Sid's adulterous ways, and Sid moves on to Sara and gets engaged to her. Gulab moves away from Ratnagiri to Mumbai to pursue her career and Ned follows her there to pursue her. Just when Gulab is about to accept Ned's proposal, Sid is back in Gulab's arms leaving behind a depressed Sara and an angered Ned.
Soon, Sid and Gulab are married much to the angst of the Mehtas and Dullas. But on the wee hours of the next day after the wedding Gulab is found dead by the maid, and Sid is found sedated. All the clues point towards Sara, and the Mehtas are hell bent upon having her convicted to save the glory of their own family. But things are not how the way it seems. Almost everyone has a motive to kill Gulab. Is it Biji, the head of the family who always wanted Sara to be Sid's bride? Or is it KD Mehta and his wife Tina, Sid's parents, who hate Gulab for offering a business partnership to Vikram? Or is it Vikram's wife, Monica, who hates Gulab for taking the place of her sister as well as being the support for her husband? Or is it Ned, who loves Gulab obsessively? Or is it Sara, who wants to be with Sid at any cost? Or is it Yuvi, Gulab's loyal friend who has always loved her without her acknowledging it? Or is it Sid, her husband who still has the hots for Sara?
The story flows brilliantly and I soon realize that the author is a huge fan of Agatha Christie whom she has thanked in the acknowledgements. I could see traits of Agatha's writing throughout the book and that is not the only reason why this book is a fantastic read. Mystery holds the book together, but the soul of the book remains an emotion. Love. Although I guessed the climax half way down the book, there is no other way I would have wanted this book to end. The search and yearning for love by Gulab, makes you pity her and your heart aches for her. If I would have written this book, I would have written it exactly the way Rasleen has. The quest for love stands out for Gulab, both in life and death. A brilliant protagonist, who stays in your heart even after you have finished the book.
Although this book is almost perfect, there are a few things that I could not digest. Gulab forgiving Sid each time he cheats on her, was too hard for me to take. The rebellious Gulab, who fights her cousins with ease, gives in completely to Sid and his antics, forgiving him time and again only to be heartbroken again and again. Also, Gulab's friendship with Sara bothered me. Even though Gulab knows that the love of her life has had an affair with Sara, and is still continuing to woo her irrespective of being engaged to her. This was disturbing. How can two women, in love with the same man, get along beautifully and to dangerous extents that is revealed in the climax? Apart from this, there is nothing that I would change. Apart from two typos in the entire book, the language is flawless and it was hard to believe that this actually was the work of an Indian author. Agatha Christie would be proud, if she read this.
Verdict: A brilliant read, woven around the most sought over emotion in the word.
Rating: 4 out of 5.