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The Kitty Party Murder: A Gripping Mystery, Served With Dollops Of Humour, Wit And Satire
Title: The Kitty Party Murder
Author: Kiran Manral
Publisher: Harper Collins India
Published: 20 November 2020
Page Count: 243
Price: INR 299
Available at www.amazon.in
TNA Rating: ****
When one picks a humorous mystery novel to read, there is some scepticism about whether or not it can strike a good balance between the two genres without losing the plot. Just a few pages into the Kitty Party Murder, and I was reassured that this was a story that can satiate my cravings for both mystery as well as humour.
I was right till the very last page of this unputdownable whodunit. Author Kiran Manral strikes the right notes as she lays out this mystery novel with generous servings of humour, wit and satire, thrown in at appropriate moments.
Kanan Mehra, a.k.a. Kay, is a 35-year old “corporate woman out of the workforce”, living in Mumbai. She has a generous heart, ever willing to reach out to those seeking help, and also has a very sharp sixth sense that she feels must be put to good use. So when her childhood friend Runa, a private detective, asks her to assist with an investigation related to a woman’s suicide, she willingly accepts.
First and foremost, she would need to interact with the eleven ladies of a kitty group, one or more of whom may have blood on their hands. The thrill of infiltrating the kitty group to surreptitiously pick up crucial leads from their malicious gossip, while feasting on an all-you-can-eat buffet each month, was an offer this kitty veteran could not resist, given that she had little inkling of what lay ahead of her.
While at the first kitty party, she stumbles upon a critical clue, but a clumsy fall leaves her with a swollen ankle, and a fuming Runa, not to mention the cold feet that she develops. Her husband who is the yang to her yin, also chides her to stay clear of the snowballing mess, with his frequent jibe, “find something to do Kay….get back to work”. Yet she keeps her spy hat on, and pursues the investigation with full vigour, encountering suspicious people and more leads to the case.
While deeply entwined in this suicide case, Kay inadvertently gets involved in the investigation of another mysterious death – that of a lady living in her housing complex. Could the startling screams that she would hear in the apartment stairway, be related to this corpse, or was she hallucinating?
With two crime investigations running in parallel, corpses lined-up, and gory details emerging, author Kiran tactfully keeps the reader on the edge of the seat, right until the dots are joined together.
The story is woven around a handful of core characters, and is well-paced to keep your interest intact. Every character in the story is described with such precision, that you can quickly conjure up a mental image to go with the scenes.
The storyline comes as a breath of fresh air, as the author introduces an element of crime into a ladies kitty group, revealing more than just a grotesque show of wealth, glamour, gossip and scrumptious food. With such a crisp narrative and many plot twists, you might be forgiven if you suspect every unsuspecting character!
What I also like about the plot is that it is well-garnished with satire on urban living, which Manral presents so accurately, blurring the lines between reality and fiction, leaving you with a hearty laugh. She has paid attention to every minute detail and trivia while writing these scenes.
There were instances when I was overwhelmed by some very long sentences in the narrative, and felt that this could have been avoided to make for easy reading. I also found a couple of scenes to be heavily descriptive, albeit their rib-tickling humour kept me entertained.
If you have a penchant for mystery, wit and humour, this could be the next book to curl up with. Be prepared to stay up all night, for you simply must know what will happen next in this captivating story.
The book has been reviewed by Jacquiline Roberts Singh, an independent writer based in New Delhi