Name of the book: 3 and a Half Murders
Author: Salil Desai
My rating: 4.5/5
While going through my Goodreads bookshelves, I stumbled upon Salil Desai’s latest novel from Inspector Saralkar Series. But, this discovery was really late, almost 10 months from the publication. I am kicking myself for not following this amazing author, who gave us our own mystery hunters duo, Senior Inspector Saralkar and PSI Motkar from Homicide Unit of Pune Police. I was fascinated by the first two books from the series and that lead me to pick his latest title instantaneously.
Maintaining the track record of the earlier titles from series, Salil Desai has managed to keep the reader’s attention with him until he completes the story. This time story takes you to Kothrud, another part of Pune, to almost open and shut case; the murder-suicide of married couple Sanjay and Anushka Doshi. But as the story unfolds, mystery hunters duo’s attempt to answer ‘why’s behind the ghastly and spine-chilling murder-suicide, brings the puzzling facts about human behaviors.
The plot takes many twists and turns leading inspectors to various cities and dive in the old case papers of Karnataka Police in for the unsolved murder in Banglore entangled with shady land deals, recruitment scams and many other irregularities related to Doshis.
I have observed in Salil’s this series, he had tried to talk about human psychology and the social stigmas around various issues like sexuality and gender identity. He has developed the characters around these issues so that he can create the dialogue in the reader’s mind about these issues. This is the quality which makes you read through the last chapter where the criminal tries to explain his side of the story, and the end where protagonist put some key pieces of the puzzle on display for us.
Senior Inspector Saralkars one-line punches and jibes to PSI Motkar add the spices to the story along with the development of their personal stories, as PSI Motkar is now an amateur actor in a play and Saralkar is trying to fight with the diagnosis of hypertension. The blurb of the book and the cover is so catchy that you can’t leave it until you dive deep into it. This is how the blurb goes:
“Two corpses . . . a woman lying dead on her bed,
a man hanging from the ceiling fan.
A suicide note cum murder confession.
And a name . . . Shaunak Sodhi.
When the case comes their way, Senior Inspector Saralkar has just been diagnosed with hypertension and PSI Motkar is busy with rehearsals of an amateur play.
What appears at first to be a commonplace crime by a debt-ridden, cuckolded husband, who has killed his unfaithful wife and then hung himself, soon begins to unfold as a baffling mystery. As clues point to a seven-year-old unsolved murder in Bangalore and other leads emerge closer home, Saralkar and Motkar find themselves investigating shady secrets, bitter grudges, fishy land deals, carnal desires, the dead woman Anushka Doshi’s sinister obsession with past life regression and her husband’s links to a suspicious, small-time god-man, Rangdev Baba.And then, suddenly, the murderer resurfaces and yet another life is in grave danger . . .
Can Saralkar and Motkar get to the bottom of an unimaginably shocking motive and stop the malevolent killer from committing the fourth murder . . .?”
Paperback: 328 pages
Publisher: Fingerprint! Publishing (8 February 2017)
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