Millennium Post

A whodunnit that lacks killer punch

Of all the living beings it is only humans who can end their own life ‘willingly’ if the reason to die becomes more meaningful than the reason to live. But even in that case he/she would resort to least painful method of putting a full stop to life.

Banquet of the dead by Sharath Komarraju – a whodunnit – starts with the death of a woman, Kauveramma, in her late 80s, head of a large family, who loved every bit of life. She is found dead in a well. That she is hydrophobic, adds a twist. But the case is closed with police citing possibility of an accident or a suicide.  Nevertheless, one family member, Dr koteshwar  Rao – grandson of Kauveramma – is not appeased with the reasons and wants police to carry out a further investigation into the matter.  A money loaded grandmother whose snuffing out could bring large fortunes to every member of family and her peculiar fear for water cement the fact that it was just not a simple case of an accident or suicide.

Inspector Valmiki Nagarajan  teams up with Hamid Pasha to dig out the truth. Mullah Hamid Pasha, a sharp interesting man with quick humour and wit, was once a criminal but now has a clean record for 15 long years. His long association with criminals is certainly the only reason why he effortlessly gets into the psyche of a perpetrator and never makes mistake.

What  follows is deep scrutiny of every possible fact and flaw of each member of family. With needle of suspicion pointing  to everyone from Kauveramma’s sons, daughter, daughter-in-law and grandchildren.  Series of questions of like how could not anyone from the family witness anything unusual with windows of the house directly overlooking the path to the well or what kind of relation did she share with each member of family? Read further and one will find sour relationship of the lady with everyone.

With too many characters in the book, it’s hard to keep tab on who’s who and, at times, because of the poor and hazy  characterisation of people in the family it becomes irksome. You are forced to flip the pages backto get the plot.

The story is simple but yet till the end we are not able to guess the culprit. And when we are told finally, it is difficult not to feel a bit cheated. The author till end is not coming clean with the raison d’être. But Hamid Pasha is interesting enough to see us through this book. There are some good one-liners and it reads easy. Read it if you are a fan of light thrillers.
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