Publisher: Harper Collins India
Published: April 2019
Rating: 4/5 stars
Purchase link: Amazon
The small and peaceful hill town of Ramsar wakes up to mysterious break-ins on two consecutive days. While the first one takes place at the local doctor’s clinic, the second is at the residence of the town’s latest and most affluent resident – Shekhar Sharma. Inexplicably, nothing has been stolen in either case. The mysterious incidents confounded the police as well as Ramsar’s residents. And before one mystery can be solved, another turns up, with a death of a stranger whom no one can identify. And so begins a game of cat-and-mouse between the criminal and the town’s resident amateur sleuth, Colonel Arjun H Acharya. Who is intent on wreaking havoc in Ramsar? And can Colonel Acharya find out the truth before time runs out?
Agatha Christie meets Ruskin Bond in Before you Breathe by Tanushee Podder. Set in a quiet hill town of Ramsar, the book follows an amateur sleuth and a cop solving series of incidents and a murder. It is a page turner and keeps you guessing. Although it did end up being a tad predictable in the end.
I enjoyed the author’s writing style. It is quite descriptive and the author takes time to build up a scene and characters. The author has worked with true life sleuths and a forensic expert. The research is evident in the writing.
The author has fleshed out the characters well. I did expect the Colonel to be a bit caricaturish as is most often the case but was pleasantly surprised. He does consider himself a desi Poirot, living up to his middle name Hercule. I particularly enjoyed how the author keeps you guessing with the primary suspects, the residents of The Willows. Circumstances and money change the man. How each character practically switches based on the circumstances was fun to read. I also liked how the author incorporated the Bridge club members – a retired judge, a professor and a doctor who helped decode the clues.
What really worked for me was that the pace did not let down. Often mysteries tend to go off tangent and lose the plot. It is then quite a task to get back into the book. The book retains the interest and has you turning the pages.
The setting and a bunch of retired professionals sharing their two cents made it an enjoyable read. The camaraderie and banter between the cop and the amateur (not) sleuth was fun. The good cop bad cop routine made it quite amusing.
What did not work for me though was how the book ended. I found it a bit lacking and too rushed. Perhaps a few more pages devoted to it would have worked well. I am also not fond of summarising how the mystery was solved at the end. In a weird way, it reminded me of CID show post the slap. As a reader, I prefer making my own deductions.
I do need to point out the error in the summary both at Goodreads and Amazon. I kept waiting for the death of the stranger that never occurred.
That said, overall, I enjoyed reading the book. And I look forward to reading more books from the Colonel Acharya series. I would recommend the book to anyone who enjoys a fast-paced murder mystery.
Before you Breathe by Tanushee Podder is available for purchase at Amazon India
This review has been written as part of the Blogchatter Book Review Program.
About the author
Born in New Delhi, she worked in the corporate sector for eight long years before Tanushree quit the rat race to wield her pen and found her calling. A well know travel writer and novelist, she is also known for the hundreds of ‘Middles’ that entertained readers of almost all English dailies in the country for over a decade. Tanushree is passionate about travelling and writing. If the lady is not packing her bags to zip around the world, she is sure to be found tapping the keys of her computer. Among her bestselling books in non- fiction genre are Death of a Dictator – The Story of Saddam Hussein, Secrets of Happiness, The Ultimate Food for Body, Mind and Soul, The Power of Relaxation. The book Smart Memory has also been translated into Tamil and Spanish.