The Reluctant Detective
If you thought this is a murder mystery the likes of “who dunnit” that keep you guessing till the end…you are wrong. To be fair to the author Kiran Manral, you are partly wrong. All that the murder aroused in me was a mild curiosity, as I was busy smiling at the antics of the protagonist Kanan Mehra aka Kay for her friends. She lives in a world of her own & quite literally vanishes into it in the midst of other uninteresting happenings. She can safely be regarded as the brand ambassador of high societal traits & a self-proclaimed fashion diva.
The story unfolds when Kay is busy getting herself all dolled up for an evening in the company of movie stars & the like. At 35 she now has to work hard at getting the right glamorous look for any ‘a do’ as they say. With triple-support bra & a wardrobe full of basically useless clothes she is having a tough time getting ready. And that’s when the doorbell rings heralding the arrival of the police looking for Kanan Mehra. There has been a murder & the last person to have seen the victim hale & hearty is Kay. And so the interrogation begins with Kay cowering behind her husband & taking offence at the fact that she isn’t even remotely suspected of murder.
They finally manage to reach the party where a movie star looks at Kay giving her the goose bumps & shivers down her spine. She gets more of them shivers as she lands up on the road barfing when their car comes across a corpse! There’s been another murder in the vicinity of their area & they are the ones to report it. So of course Kay is now high in demand giving a blow by blow account of how she came across the corpse & what the corpse looked like etc. While she enjoys this limelight her nights now are plagued by the ghost of the first victim. Going by popular TV drama & movies’ logic she decides something is fishy & gets her no-nonsense detective friend Runa into this case. The duo poke around & do a bit of detective work, Runa being unpaid & hence not very interested while Kay being too timid & reluctant already. The rest of the book is all about how the murder is solved finally & everyone lives happily ever after.
Looking at the characters, the dormant yet ever present person is Kay’s husband who isn’t even given a name! He’s just there helping out his scared wife, poking & taunting her as & when the situation demands. Ekta Kapoor would have loved to have him on her serials. Runa is a woman alright, a strong powerful don’t-mess-with-me kinda lady who doesn’t give a damn to any man. Reading her description I was reminded of one of my primary school teachers who could make the concrete walls shiver. Remember your maths teacher who never smiles? Yeah .. that kind of woman.
Kay’s 5 yr old son is a little delight with his innocent responses that children are so well-know for. Her maid & cook are the regular gossip-monger kinds-a normal average household it is. Kay herself is the kind of lady you come across everyday at malls. Sunglasses propped above their heads, branded western wear & matching accessories, trying hard to deny the fact that they have crossed 30. She may be conceited but she is such a delight to know. Who else would dismantle a corpse’s wear & try to decode his fashion sense? Who else can be so easily ridiculous & yet charming as Kanan Mehra?!
The Reluctant Detective is a nice read-one that you can take with you on your travels or pick up when bored. From the literature perspective the story carries little strength & the plot seems a bit lost out. I wasn’t satisfied with the ending or maybe I was expecting a teeny-weeny bit of actual mystery in there. However if you’re looking for something light, The Reluctant Detective would be a great choice with its laugh-aloud moments of hilarity & not too complicated plot.