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The desi Miss Marple is a winner

The desi Miss Marple is a winner

The new Lalli mystery is set for release in 2007 and author Kalpana Swaminathan seems to have hit on a winner.

New Delhi: What is a Lalli mystery, you ask? It’s the beginning of a Miss Marple-esque series, except that Lalli is younger and Indian and well not as old-school as the old, sweet British Miss Marple.

Lalli's not like Precious Ramotswe either, but then again we’ll leave those mysteries to the redoubtable Alexandra McCall Smith.

The new Lalli mystery - the page 3 murders - a Lalli mystery -
is set for release in 2007 and looks like author Kalpana Swaminathan (of Bougainvillea House fame) has hit on a winner.

We learn more about Lalli through her niece, the Narrator, who discovers to her surprise that her aunt used to be a cop and though officially in retirement, is still the Last Resort (with a capital L and R) for several homicides.

The Narrator is a struggling author (oh, that lonely tribe), her aunt has a keen eye for detail, and it’s put to the test at a weekend party, where people start popping up dead.

Tragically the deaths start with the charming love interest (by far the most mysterious and attractive character in the book!).

It’s a suspense-filled whodunit. The suspense kicks in later in the novel - because for the most part, the author’s having too much fun with these characters, etching in little details, making them life-like.

Some of the characterization is a little simplistic, it’s not quite Agatha Christie, but it’s here and now and a great deal of fun.

There’s the page 3 has-been, the best-selling author, who is quite the prat, a young model (who sleeps an awful lot, but apparently that’s the kind of thing models have to do for their skin and eyes and suchlike).

Then there is the charming hostess, Dr Hilla Driver, just like the charming young Ramona - (Is this true?! That young girls often take laxatives throughout the day to stay slim and trim? That’s an awful amount of time to be locked up in the water closet, not to mention the effect on your health!)

This is not a cerebral work, so you won’t be up all night puzzling out the murderer - but for the record, it's not a cert that you’ll guess who it is, either.

But you might just find yourself staying up all night reading this one through. Published by IndiaInk / Roli Books and priced at Rs 295, the book is delightfully written and a breezy read.
first published:May 09, 2006, 15:46 IST