Book Review: A Minute to Death, by Ganga Bharani

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When I look at the spectrum of Indian Writing in English, the route I see many of the authors take is the tried and tested, maybe even loved route of romance. Perhaps, as a genre, it is one even I prefer to write. But as a reader, I’ve read and found many to be sub-par. It is, perhaps, a breath of fresh air to see an author take the genre of crime fiction.

A girl is found in her house, hanging from the ceiling. Investigating police officer Rohan suspects that it is suicide, but cannot rule out the possibility of murder without absolute proof. His girlfriend Riya is an aspiring writer, who wants to be part of one of his cases, to gain first-hand knowledge of the crime, the crime scene and the path of investigation. With his instinct leaning toward probable suicide, Rohan convinces his seniors and gets Riya permission to be part of the case. But the questions only seem to lead to more questions, and leave both of them unsure about the case, till the first twist in the tale changes that.

I’ve read a lot of crime fiction. I like that this plot brings out possibilities – is it suicide or murder? If it is suicide, why did the victim choose to end her life? If it is murder, then who had the most cause to kill her? How are the pieces of evidence important in leading to a solution for the case? With each chapter, the intrigue to understand the case develops, and that brings a smile. The solution, which I guessed, still leaves me wondering. It leaves open threads, which I try to connect, but the flipside is that I manage to connect some of them in a couple of ways, and that unsure feeling is not a good one.

The characters have their own quirks, which make them interesting. Rohan is focused on the case, and is determined to follow it to its solution, but that no-nonsense attitude is not there when he arranges for Riya to be part of a case. That adds the emotional aspect to his character. Riya, the bike-riding girl, aspiring writer etc. also comes out well, but there are some aspects that jar. Small points, like a favorite book coming into the picture as a clue, and adding to the sketch of a secondary character, add to the book itself. However, the mystery of Febbon was one that left something incomplete; and the romance between the two main characters felt distracting at times as well.

The book manages to keep me engaged from start to finish. And it is a small book, so it can be finished in a few hours at most. What I did not like in the book was the lack of editing. There are a few places where it stands out, and feels wrong, or in contrast to what was there a few sentences back. And the tone of the book, especially when Rohan and Riya are discussing the case, feels too casual. It makes me think of the series Castle, in a way.

A page turner for sure, Ganga Bharani’s A Minute to Death, which came my way via a friend, turned out to be quite likeable. It’s a book that I enjoyed reading.


The Bookworm Rates This: 3/5
The Bookworm Rates This: 3/5
Book Details
Title: A Minute to Death
Author(s): Ganga Bharani Genre: Crime Fiction
ISBN/ASIN: 9789384315078 Publisher: Half Baked Beans

The book was lent to me by a friend. The views expressed here are my own, frank and uninfluenced.


(© 22nd October 2015)

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