Most people who know me know that I have a fondness for crime thrillers and murder mysteries in particular. I read all genres, but my reading fancy goes for this genre more often than not. It’s because of the ability to keep the reader on the edge of their chairs and keep them turning the pages to know what happened that this genre stands a cut above the others for me.
First aspects… cover and title. Do they hold my attention? Yes. They do. I have not read the author’s prior works, but “Lethal Spice” with a softened background having a bottle (of spice) behind it… yes, that combination definitely caught my attention.
A good murder mystery, as I’ve said often before, hinges around mainly three aspects – the investigator, the victim and the motive. There are two other factors that do matter – the suspects and the pace – but from the two, the former is somewhat muted and the second omnipotent so I’ll not take them up in detail.
The investigator… SP Niki Marwah, confident and able police officer who commands the respect of not only those working for her, but also her superiors. Her character is given immediate focus with the opening scene, a demonstration at a school where she gets a message through to young hearts. Always following up with the case, no matter what, and doing what she has to to not let the case slip through her fingers, and doing so to bring justice to the victim. Yes, this is one detective I admired.
The victim… Mala Joseph, judge and former winner of the reality show Hot Chef. I didn’t expect her as the victim, reading initially, I thought it might be one of the contestants, and that delightfully threw a spanner in the works and I had to read on to find out why she was killed. Mala’s thoughts as she is about to go on stage and judge the food is well written. You can feel the nervousness, and that little bit of pity for the contestant who has burnt their dish… it can be pictured easily.
The motive… the eventual perpetrator was quite unexpected, and to do a brilliant back-story to explain why the perpetrator did what they did was excellent to read. The motive to the most part is money, but in a way I could not have imagined coming. If this is what her first two books are like, I can see myself reading those very soon.
If I leave out the attention to detail she has given to some of the other characters, it’d be an incomplete review. From the nervous, superstitious executive producer of Hot Chef, Ruby Talwar who is so shook up after the incident, to arrogant and spoiled brat, contestant Pallavi Aanand, who even doesn’t show respect to the police, each character is given their own quirks. Even ASP Sahay and Inspector Deepika, the aides of Niki were fun to read. Shankar Sahay’s helpful and respectful side is shown when he ditches a date to help Niki with paperwork, and his strict serious side when he shouts at reporters trying to harass the victim’s husband when he lands at the airport.
The suspects… the pool is wide open of course, with a lot of cast and crew to look at during the investigation. A twist in the tale in the second half of the book throws another spanner and I couldn’t help but whisper “wow” when I read that. The pace of the narration, which is very important in any crime thriller, was just perfect and kept me engaged in the read from start to finish.
This is one book that’s not leaving my favorites shelf, and one that I will read again. Brilliant with a capital B!
Why should you read it?
Excellent characters, be it the detective, the victim or others. Perfect pace of narration that kept me engaged from start to finish.
What you may not like…
I don’t think there is anything unlikeable in the book to be honest.
Title: Lethal Spice
Series: Niki Marwah #2
Author: Swati Kaushal
Genre: Crime thriller
Publisher: Hachette India
Price: INR. 350
(1st June 2014)