×
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

A bit of nostalgia, a dose of mystery

In line with this tradition is Harini Negendra’s A Nest of Vipers, the third novel in her Bangalore Detectives Club series. Kaveri, the saree-clad detective who is familial, responsible, emotional, loving and a very good detective to boot, is the biggest plus point of this series.
Last Updated : 06 July 2024, 22:04 IST

Follow Us :

Comments

Detective fiction has never been without its charms and characters such as Byomkesh Bakshi, Feluda, and Shankarlal have had a loyal following for decades. 

In line with this tradition is Harini Negendra’s A Nest of Vipers, the third novel in her Bangalore Detectives Club series. Kaveri, the saree-clad detective who is familial, responsible, emotional, loving and a very good detective to boot, is the biggest plus point of this series. And, of course, the fact that the stories are set in pre-independence Bangalore. Yes, Bangalore, not Bengaluru.

Harini is a gifted storyteller, and she begins the story from a set-up that Indian readers love to get nostalgic about — a magic show in a circus. Circus extravaganzas and magic shows form an important part of our collective memory of public entertainment in the pre-television era. People would often talk about magicians and their mysterious stories with great excitement. During one such show, an unexpected heist and murder occur, whipping up Kaveri Murthy, the detective-protagonist’s curiosity. What’s more, magician Das disappears for real once the show concludes.

Now it is Kaveri’s responsibility to bring the magician’s boy, Suman, back to his father and clear her friend Anandi from charges of murdering her husband, who becomes the prime suspect after the incident. In the process of finding out details and solving the mystery, Kaveri encounters indifference from her former ally, Inspector Ismail. But she persists in her investigation despite these challenges, with the support of her doctor-husband, Ramu.

The nouveau-rich Bangalore backdrop and the deft incorporation of the burgeoning independence movement, especially the non-cooperation movement, add depth to the novel. A subplot about an imminent visit of the Prince of Wales keeps looming, and never quite reaches anywhere.

Harini has kept the language of the novel simple with red herrings appearing now and then. However, if one is reading this novel as a book independent of the series, it becomes rather difficult to follow certain storylines. Harini does not spend much time rewinding for new readers. For instance, quite a chunk of the first and the second novels is devoted to Kaveri’s relationship with her mother-in-law, a character we don’t meet often in the third. 

The novel though struggles to hold the reader’s attention in some places, mostly because of its uneven pace and inordinate length — a problem that plagues the mystery writing genre itself. Writers are always trying to achieve that fine balance between keeping the mystery alive and playing with the narrative arc. That said, taken as a whole, the Bangalore Detectives Club mystery series is still readable. Kudos to the writer for attempting old-fashioned detective fiction, a tough genre to sustain readers’ interest in, one would think. 

ADVERTISEMENT
Published 06 July 2024, 22:04 IST

Follow us on :

Follow Us

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT