Banquet On The Dead by Sharath Komarraju

Kauveramma loved life. She was terrified of water. So why was her body found floating gruesomely, hair fanned out, limbs outspread, in the well of the family compound?  Her sons, daughter, grandchildren—some of them resident, others far-flung—assemble at her death with expressions ranging from composed or confused to those of outright maniacal grief.
Things don’t quite fit, and one of them demands an investigation into the mysterious drowning.  Enter a policeman, Inspector Valmiki Nagarajan, and a charming rogue, Hamid Pasha. The latter is an elderly Muslim and a reformed criminal. He and the policeman regard each other with reluctant admiration and gruff affection. The duo interrogates each member of the family and staff in turn, unearthing secrets of their past, and calculating the degrees of their love, hatred or loyalty to Kauveramma and each other.  As it happens, everyone had something to gain from Kauveramma’s banishment from their lives…

When I first read about the book, I kind of liked the plot. I had imagined a laid back setting , lot of relatives and hence lot of secrets layered within the folds of household gossip.

I am glad to say, I wasn't wrong. Moreover I was delighted to see all these fit into this book so picture perfectly. Its a commendable job to make the lady , her three sons , a daughter , and the extended family with such clearity that you could almost imagine them to be moving in front of you. Thats when you get really immersed in the book I feel.

I totally loved the character of Hamid Pasha and together with Nagrajan , the duo does look like tailored for each other pair. I almost wished there were more books involving both of them , a series sort maybe *wishful thinking*

Like each family , Kauveramma's family members are neither good nor bad. Every one has their own issues to deal and Life hasn't really been kind to all. They are people like us - selfish yet caring , kind yet wishful , angry yet restrained. But of course some one did cross the limits and ended up killing the lady who was a mother figure to even the servants of the home. why would some one who is so scared from even showering , go near the well and end up drowning in the same ? Why would some one commit the crime in broad daylight and in presence of people working nearby ? The timeline of events as described by the residents match for some but not all. The proceedings of the day are as routine as different for the day Kauveramma died.

The author has made sure to thicken the plot as much as trying to provide the clues with every person's account of the day and otherwise. Add to this Hamid's charm and easy  going approach to all the facts presented to him , one does get hooked to the book instantly. but as the curtain falls and Hamid gathers everyone one last time to bring forth the murderer , I feel something missing. The "how" was revealed well but the "why" wasn't convincing. I needed a bit more to believe that the people involved in the crime did think and plan it all. when and how of the plan was as important for me as the execution itself.

Overall , this is one of the most enjoyed crime book from an Indian author for me this year.
It reminded me of the Byomkesh bakshi stories I had read some months back and partly gave the feeling of watching a series unfold.

Rating : 4/5

Other details :

Pages : 276
Price : 168 ( at )

This is an author requested review. Thank you Sharath for sending such an interesting read to me. I have already added your other book to my wishlist :D

1 comment:

  1. Just finished this recently! Hamid Pasha leaves an indomitable curiosity in the mind of the readers with his perpetual "Hain?" :D


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