Title: Deal of Death
Author: Sonia Chatterjee
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime, Detective
Deal of Death is an exciting mystery with a an intricate plot and an unconventional detective solving this whodunit.
Raya Ray resigns from her hi flying marketing job when she encounters a personal tragedy. Moving cities and changing occupations, she starts her own detective agency. Battling the ennui of mundane cases of cheating spouses and missing pets, she decides to step out of Kolkata to help her housemaid’s sister who lives in faraway Munshiganj.
For Raya, it starts as a case to trace a missing newborn from a hospital but leads to being a labyrinth of lies and deceit that goes back generations. Evil thrives in this seemingly simple town and by the time Raya is close to solving the case, she discovers that things are not as they seem and people are not who they pretend to be.
What works well
This is exciting detective fiction, fast paced and well plotted with a refreshingly different setting and a well etched out protagonist.
Raya Ray, the corporate hi flier turned detective, battling her grief, concerned with body issues, helpful, trusting, deducing, relying on observation and instinct, is the well sketched protagonist that gets the reader attention and loyalty.
The setting is the quaint Munshiganj on the banks of the river Annapurna and a twin ghat of Diwanganj. It looks like a peaceful, sleepy town but there is plenty of royal intrigue woven into the town’s history. There is also the curious temple and the mosque flanking the sides of the Nawab’s tomb. The photos included in the book bring alive the place for the reader.
The plot is intricate. Like any mystery, there is a crime and there are unexpected perpetrators, yet the backstory and how events came to pass is novel.
This is an impressive debut book and the author, Sonia Chatterjee finished writing it in a record six days.
On the other hand
The protagonist is well etched out but sometimes she is plain lucky. She gets a lot of information too easily and too fast. Also, Raya seems to know too many things without a real knowledge of the events themselves.
The plot is well built but the execution seems rushed. Towards the end there is a lot of information, which also keeps shifting because of the different povs.
There are too many characters towards the end of the book. It would help if these characters are introduced early on.
Some things need to be figured out clearly in the plot. The events and incidents are sometimes not believable.
A few characters are sketchy. Adding physical characteristics would help a little bit of context and relatability.
Chapter length does not seen uniform, which is a little jarring. Some chapters are very short, just a few paragraphs and they seem hurriedly done just to give information to the reader. The formatting needs to be looked into. Some chapters don’t even start from a different page. The chapter names too seem a little random. There are days 1-4 and then we move on to day 8.
Some scenes would flow better if there is more of description and ‘showing’ the reader rather than ‘telling’.
Also, giving meanings of words, like jhalmuri, tonga in brackets affects the flow of the story. It would help if they are put as footnotes.
About the Author
An ex-banker and a self- confessed bibliophile, Sonia inherited her love of the written word from her Professor father. As a tribute to her late mother and a gift to her son on his second birthday, Sonia started blogging from September 2017. Married to a Doctor, Sonia is crazy about four things in life – books, food, travel and her uber-cute toddler. She currently works hard to realize her dream of becoming a best-selling author while secretly wishing harder for twelve hours of uninterrupted sleep.
Her work can be found at soniasmusings.com. She blogs about food, travel, movies, parenting, personal journeys and social issues.
A fast paced detective story with an endearing MC and an intriguing setting. This debut book hits the right notes in the crime fiction.
Download the book here.