“Banquet on the Dead” – by Sharath Komarraju – Book Review

Exams are done with, vacation is over and hectic schedule begins once more. And at last I could pick up Sharath Komarraju’s “Banquet on the Dead” (my apologies for this terrible delay).
At first, I must say that my past few experiences of reading novels by some of the new and up-coming Indian authors were, let’s just say not that joyous. Since then, I have been extremely apprehensive, especially since for me, reading a book almost always equals to buying it. But I needn’t have worried – Komarraju’s second novel is quite a happy relief.
For one, the genre really interested me (no college love story, thank the lord). Nothing excites me more than a good ol’ murder mystery, my shelves full of morbid mystery novels accounts for that.
Kauveramma loved life and she was terrified of water – thus our victim is introduced in this novel. Then why was she found in the well, apparently drowned? Why was there no water in her lungs? Why was she even near the well? Inspector Valmiki Nagaranjan has quite the tricky case on his hands, and although not a fool, he is no Sherlock Holmes either.
And so enters Hamid Pasha – former criminal, a lover of all things which spell ‘non-vegetarian food’ and a completely crazy fellow – definitely my kind of a man. Hamid Pasha’s interaction with Nagaranjan is what kept me entertained. I loved how Komarraju used the local dialect along with English. It is hard to maintain a good flow while doing that (till now I have only found Amitav Ghosh pulling it off with absolute gusto in Sea of Poppies) and I’d like to see more of it in his next novel. I liked the sketching of the characters and absolutely loved the Hyderabadi-ness of the book.
And then starts the conversations with the very interesting set of people who are Kauveramma’s family members. Like every family, theirs is filled with drama, albeit now with a murderous twist. As you get one’s motive, you get the alibi as well. And in the middle of all of this are our duo.
But I guess a childhood made up of Christie, Doyle and Satyajit Ray kind of makes me find the ending a little anti-climactic. I will have to be honest and say that the murderer was slightly predictable and the unveiling was not something that made me gasp.
Nevertheless, I was glad to have gotten the opportunity to review this lovely book, because contrary to my initial fears, I actually liked reading it. A fantastic flow and a good grip on story-telling, I cannot wait to see what Komarraju places in his third book.
Here’s to more gripping, morbid tales!


4 thoughts on ““Banquet on the Dead” – by Sharath Komarraju – Book Review

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