Title: Drop Dead
Author: Swati Kaushal
Price: Rs 250
Genre: Fiction / Thriller / Crime
‘Drop Dead’ is the third book by the bestselling author Swati Kaushal. But unlike the earlier 2 books, this one is a crime mystery novel. This book is supposed to be the first one in the ‘Niki Marwah Mystery series’.
In this book, the author introduces Niki Marwah, the Shimla Superintendent of Police. Young, attractive, charismatic, tough, sharp and level-headed; she has all the makings of a promising central character. She does not consider living it up with stylish clothes and driving a flamboyant 2X2 SUV frivolous for a cop. Priyanka Chopra in Don is definitely a benchmark because we often find her references. (Niki also reminds me so much of Nancy Drew!).
This book is about only three days during which a dead body is discovered, an enquiry is conducted and the case is solved. Rakesh Mehta (also known as Rak), President and CEO of Indigo Books India Ltd., is putting up at the luxurious Lotus Resort, Sonargam (a fictitious place near Shimla) with his team for a corporate meet. Rak Mehta is ruthless, shrewd and opportunistic. He is flamboyant and quite a ladies’ man. On the verge of making an important announcement, he is found dead at Jharna Point, near the Lotus Resort, apparently due to a fall from the cable car. Niki Marwah takes charge of the investigation with her team, and soon finds out that almost everyone could have a motive to kill Rak.
Since there is an intention of a series, so one would find a few seemingly unnecessary parts and characters. Niki’s friend Kam or Niki’s big Punjabi clan, even a potential romantic angle have not been explored in this book but I am sure they would have relevance in the coming books from the series. Niki’s subordinate Shankar Sahay is a likeable character though his casual banter with Niki sounds more like that of a younger brother rather than a junior who has just started out.
The title is catchy, and seems ironical when you read the book. The cover page is in line with the author’s previous two books. I found the publishing industry setting pretty interesting. But the book lacks in-depth characterization. Even Niki’s character is not too fleshed out. The book is actually a chick lit married to a thriller; so apart from pursuing the case, Niki also has her moments of meeting single men, dodging the marriage question and fantasizing about shoes and clothes.
The other issue with the book is finishing the story in haste towards the end. From taking every suspect’s statement to nabbing the killer, there should have been a logical connect. However, it certainly is a page-turner which should appeal to anyone who is looking for a fast-read and favors thrillers. Young Adults is another potential audience for this book. We also get a glimpse of the second book in Niki Marwah mystery series towards the end - ‘Sweet Cyanide’.
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