Author: Kalpana Swaminathan
"Murder in Seven Acts" | Digging clues
Born with a short story Cryptic Death, 'Lalli Mysteries' has now turned up into a full-fledged collection of mystery stories with the latest release of Murder in Seven Acts. After encountering success with Greenlight, Kalpana Swaminathan has penned down this enigmatic detective fiction. Lalli returns with some of the strangest and complex cases of her career with the collection of seven stories in this novel.
The novel begins when Lalli’s niece Sita, the narrator of the story, meets a pretty woman in her sixties, thereafter she gets to know that a face keeps reappearing in front of the old lady wherever she goes. But the story turns towards a mysterious path when the anonymous face in the crowd becomes the known one after a crime committed a long time ago is revealed.
Have you ever been invited to a ghost house for a reunion party? Yes, the fiction holds the thrill of ghosts as it unfolds in the next act in the novel when Lalli and Sita go to meet Savio who was there for a reunion in Rupa’s place, who has died years ago but whose noises can still be heard in the so-called bhoot bangla. So who is it? Was Rupa dead or is she still alive?
The novel also sheds light on women empowerment when the author comes out of the box from traditional male detective stories. Despite being a doctor, Swaminathan always carried the knack of writing interesting stories. She has written over 16 stories in which Lalli has appeared in six stories. Further in the story, Lalli has revealed the faces behind the sullen mask of apathy from certain hypocritic people when an author gets murdered during a bonfire of his controversial book The Sixth Pandava by some members belonging to a left-winged crowd. It divulges that because of some pseudo religious people in the society no one has their freedom of speech or the right to express their opinion in their own way.
“Lalli slid a bright pink flyer towards me. It exhorted (in Hindi and in English) all anguished Hindu hearts to unite at the very threshold of the criminal who had written this offensive book. Devoted cadets had patiently gathered thousands of copies before they could corrupt the weak-minded, at exactly 7pm, these books would be torched as an act of purification. Brothers and Sisters, be there!” Sita narrated the moment. The story also traces the detective skills of Lalli when she vigorously solved a case in the world of the glamorous fashion industry after Sita suspected a person as a serial killer in a bus she was travelling – but was he a serial killer or a victim?
The narrative is a sheer delight for anyone who likes to read thriller novels as the author describes each and every character very compassionately. While some characters are strong others are elusive. Unlike other mysterious fictions, the novel traces a variety of topics with people from different walks of life.