An enticing mystery

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An enticing mystery

Sunday, 19 February 2017 | AVANTIKA BOSE

An enticing mystery

The CEO who lost his head

Author - Aditya Sinha

Publisher - Pan Macmillan

Price - Rs 299

It’s the portrayal of the media world through the eyes of two cops, the tittle-tattle and the masala, the secrets, the powerful word play and the real life models of many characters vilified in this book that makes it extremely engrossing and gives it an extra edge over other crime thrillers, writes AVANTIKA BOSE

Coming from Aditya Sinha, the former editor of the DNA newspaper in Mumbai, it can be expected that the book

The CEO Who lost His Head would be a story filled with much drama and secrets, leaving you gobsmacked — and the book doesn’t disappoint you at all in this front.

The way the story unfolds leaves the reader wanting more and it’s nearly impossible to put it down until you reach the end of the novel. It truly is an ‘unputdownable’ book.

Buster Das, the CEO of the newspaper Morning Analysis aka ‘Morning Anal’ is found dead in his office with his head bashed in. The weapon used to do the deed, was one of the many trophies received by Das. Mumbai cop’s inspector Sandesh Solvekar and sub-inspector Mona Ramteke begin to investigate this high profile case. They, however, find themselves knee-deep in Mumbai’s sordid world of dissolute starlets, business moguls and sellout media, even as they attempt to deal with a dysfunctional police machinery and their own secret lives. The suspect list of people who could have killed the CEO keeps on increasing.

The suspect pool includes the people working in Morning Analysis from Das’s secretary, Theresa Pereira to the editor Rocky Borkotoky, the ‘Dating’ Editor, Ms Mohini Saxena aka Mo-sex, the ‘Behind Bombay’ editor, Ms Savita Kao or well, Savita Bhabhi — what she is popularly known as among her peers, as well as Vishwas Bandra aka Vishwas ‘Bandar’ the owner of Morning Analysis. And of course, how can we forget the wannabe Bollywood actor, Charuchitra Singh who was also a part of the suspect list.

There’s also the rival newspaper, News of India or popularly called ‘Noose of India’ or what Borkotoky calls it, the ‘Refuse of India’- where Das had worked previously. One can’t overlook the fact that the Morning Analysis is the fourth largest English selling newspaper in the country much like Sinha’s former workplace, DNA.

Even though the idea of finishing the book just to figure out who killed Buster Das or well Bastard Das — a name people called him behind his back — is very gripping, but the way the personal lives of the characters have been portrayed with all their secrets, the gossips surrounding the media world and all such hype is even more spellbinding.

My favourite dramatis personae is sub-inspector Mona Ramteke, hands down. She’s smart, well-read, witty and bold. She’s queer and totally owns it. She creates a very respectable position for herself in the male dominated police force. Her banter with her senior officer inspector Solvekar and other characters of the novel makes her character even more intriguing and adds more ‘wow’ to the story.

My personal favourite part in the entire book is when Solvekar, while trying to figure out who killed Das, starts thinking about death and what it must feel like when you’re facing it — a question that has crossed everyone’s mind’s at least once in their lifetime: “Was facing death like standing on Marine Drive and looking at the sea, except you saw waves and swells of ugliness and hell, or was it like watching countless pedestrians in lower Parel walking by and not caring if you lived or how you livedIJ Or was it something worse: An infinite stretch of nothingnessIJ Whatever it was, Buster Das, like every human being who had died before him, had probably glimpsed it; though he was, like most others, unprepared.” This particular paragraph made inspector Solvekar real and not just a fictitious character. 

It’s the portrayal of the media world through the eyes of the two cops, the tittle-tattle and the masala, the secrets, the powerful word play and the real life models of many characters vilified in this book are what makes it extremely engrossing and gives it an extra edge over other crime thrillers. As accurately described on the blurb by Surrender Mohan Pathak, author of Hindi language crime thrillers, this book is “a brilliant whodunit with a desi flavour…immensely readable”.

The way Sinha ends the book is very satisfying. He tells us what each and every character from the book is up to once the murder mystery is solved. It also gives an impression as if the author is drawing parallels with himself through the character of Rocky as both Rocky and Sinha work for a newspaper and then move on to writing crime thrillers. This is a novel filled with good humour, witty comebacks, dark secrets and a lot of juicy gossip.

No doubt that there are better and more riveting crime novels written. I don’t know if this book took Indian crime writing to dazzling new heights as mentioned in its blurbs. However, given how I don’t like reading crime thrillers and yet this book kept me captivated, I would say it’s definitely an appealing must read.

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