Manreet Sodhi Someshwar
Novels in the series –
The Taj Conspiracy
The Hunt for Kohinoor
About the detective –
Mehrunisa, created from the author’s research on the Mughal history and renaissance art is a Mughal scholar researching Indo-Persian linkages. Born to a Punjabi father (Harinder Singh Khosa -an undercover spy) and a Persian mother, her half Sikh-half muslim NRI status often evokes great curiosity among her countrymen. She often spends her time at the house of her Godfather, a highly reputed historian, the 70-year-old Professor Kaul in Delhi. It was while assisting Prof. Kaul for a project on the heritage monument Taj Mahal that Mehrunissa eventually discovers what the Taj Mahal is meant to depict. In the second book, The Hunt for Kohinoor, her journey becomes more personal as she chases a deadline of 96 hours while also encountering some startling discoveries from her past.
Mehrusina has become a much more relevant character in today’s world where communal agendas seem to erode humanity every single day. Quoting the author from one of her interviews, “I wrote The Taj Conspiracy, Book 1 of the Mehrunisa trilogy, to rescue Taj Mahal from ignorant guides and benighted rumors and show it for what it really is — as the color white contains all colors within it, this monument of white comprises multiple, diverse threads of a pluralistic India. I created Mehrunisa as a human metaphor for the Taj — strong yet vulnerable and of mixed heritage.” The plot of the novels has a mix of history and politics set against the backdrop of India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.
The future –
There were a couple of reports about Priyanka Chopra showing an interest in adapting the stories to the big screen but no official announcement has been made as yet. A third part of the trilogy, tentatively titled ‘The Peacock Throne Prophesy’ has also been planned.
The bookish connection –
I read the author’s first book “Earning the laundry Stripes” way back in 2007. I had started discovering Indian writing then and the part biographical- part fiction book became a personal favorite. I had been following her writings and when the first book of the Menhrunisa series came out in 2012, I had already started looking forward to reading her next.
This was the period when I was trying to cope with the sudden demise of my mother. This book gave me a kind of comfort in the worst phase of my life. As the book proceeds, Mehrunisa loses her Madaar to the brain tumor. In Mehrunisa, I spotted my hero. Her anguish felt personal and her determination to take a stand despite all odds felt like my battle. If an author has succeeded in making her protagonist an integral part of a reader’s life, it only goes to speak volumes about her prowess in the field of writing. I only hope that the versatile writer who has recently launched her soul-stirring novel ‘The radiance of a thousand suns’ considers working on the third and final installment in this series next. I definitely look forward to reading many books featuring Mehrunisa in the future.
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This is the 2nd post in my ‘Favorite Indian Detectives’ series. You can also check my first post on Feluda.
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