Friday, October 19

Book Review for Blogadda : Barnabas

Five words...

"A very, very good book"

The shortest review ever and the most appropriate.

Barnabas, written by Sangeeta Nambiar is a murder mystery investigated by a young, intelligent chap, self-proclaimed "the first Private Detective of Bombay".

- Bombay, coz the book is set in the pre-Independence era (though thats the name I still use and prefer)

- Barnabas, coz the word rhymes with "bandobast" - a term that the protagonist's father has memories about.

Now Barnabas, as some of you might know, was one of the earliest Christian disciples in Jerusalem.

Not that that has any link to this story. Except maybe for one line about "flock" and religion.

When Blogadda sent me this book to read and review, I liked the cover (although I rarely judge a book by that feature). I don't expect too much from books of late, so this one came as a very pleasant (and rare) surprise. The author is extremely gifted and superbly simple. Isn't that the best combination to create a delightful story?

The vocab is sprinkled generously with words that will impress you and make you run for the dictionary. So also, is the modesty and honesty of the detective who has no qualms in confessing that mundane observations and conclusions skip him. You see him growing through the pages and his cracking the case soon becomes a personal victory for you as well. While I'd hit upon the solution long before it was spelt out in the climax, I enjoyed the stumbling and exploring, conversations and nightly excursions undertaken by Barnabas. The author has fantastically woven into the mystery, the upbringing and philosophical side of Barnabas, a true masterthought, as it helps you relate better with the detective and empathize with his well-wishing father and uncle. Even as you detest the nosiness and commanding attitude of the British policeman, and the high-mightiness of the firang folk. That's as far as our patriotism goes in the 21st century. LOL


The plot itself speaks about a woman who leaves her husband's house and is found dead in a remote, unlikely location. Characters include her domestic help, husband, friend, sister, the police and obviously Barnabas and his folks. Allusions to the freedom struggle and important entities are several, but they do not take away from the book, rather they add flavor and passion to the scenes.

The writer's theatrical background is clearly evident from the way the enigma unfolds. The plot, though not totally original, has its fair moments of surprise and revelation.

As I said, very, very well written. Not a waste of time or money at all.

(Not that I had to pay any; Blogadda has sent me most of the books that I am reading these days in exchange for my thoughts on the books.)

So, when are you grabbing your copy of Barnabas?


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