A debut book in fiction? Brave. A debut book in crime fiction? Even braver. Despite the fact that this is the first time Rasleen Syal attempts writing, and because of the fact that her beginner’s style gives it away, this is a book that I read from start to finish in about three hours. The intriguing title and the premise also makes this book unputdownable. The likes of Agatha Christie, P.D. James or Mary Higgins Clark have set the ultimate benchmarks in the writing of murder mysteries. So when I read Rasleen’s acknowledgement of Agatha Christie’s contribution in her life, I had great expectations from this book. I am actually happy to say that the book did not really disappoint me.
The natural reaction of anyone accused of a crime is to try and prove himself innocent, or shift the blame to someone else. So when Gulab Sarin is poisoned on the very next night of her wedding, her in-laws, the Mehtas are all suspects. Amidst a parallel narrative that is her own story told by Gulab, the game of discovering whodunit begins. Gulab Sarin, a girl unappreciated by her family and befriended by her “future” husband Sid when she was a kindergartner, accepted and loved by his family and in love with him to the extent that she’s willing to forgive his faults. In a Poirot-esque ending, there is a conjecture as to why she was the perfect victim, and what the motive was for the crime.
Rasleen, quite cleverly, leaves enough clues for the reader to become their own detectives in the pursuit of the guilty. And that’s where Rasleen impresses you the most – psychological introspection, familial politics, rivalries and jealousy in love make the characters so real. While the plot may not be too fast-paced (but who wants a spoiler anyways), the manipulative situations that Rasleen sprinkles all around help to maintain interest right till the very end. The writing is simple, lucid and yet engaging, but as it is a crime thriller, Happily Murdered is a one-time read that you are bound to enjoy curled up next to a fireplace. If you are looking for a fresh, engaging and slightly different murder mystery… gives “Happily Murdered…” a chance, you will be pleasantly surprised.
Author: Rasleen Syal
Genre: Fiction, Crime
Publisher: Srishti Publishers & Distributors
Price: Rs 175
Review by Aarti Kapur Singh