On Saturday 8th Feb, I traveled with my debut book ‘Deal of Death’ to The Saturday Club, Kolkata for an insightful discussion about women writing thrillers. The panel was moderated by Baishali Chatterjee Dutt and had prolific authors like Kiran Manral, Sharmistha Gooptu, and Damyanti Biswas along with me speaking on how ‘thriller’ was an umbrella genre comprising of various sub-categories. We focussed on the stereotyping that women writers face while writing books in a genre predominantly occupied by writers of the opposite gender. In an engaging and thought-provoking session, we shared our experiences of becoming writers in this genre and the way forward.
Sharing a couple of pictures and bits of my opinion recorded live.
The media coverage in the form of an article on the event is available here.
The full recording of the event is available on the FB page of Shethepeople.tv here.
Here’s the big news that I had spoken about in my last post. Tomorrow, Saturday 8th Feb, I will be speaking at the Women Writer’s Fest by Shethepeople.tv on the theme‘Writing Thrills’ at The Saturday Club, Kolkata. Along with three other prolific writers, we will be discussing our journey as authors in the genre of thrillers. The day is packed with various events and you can catch my session from 11:30 am to 12:15 pm. Entry is free and all you need to do to attend the event is register on the mentioned link below.
I will be sharing further details about the proceedings of the day along with some pictures and videos (if possible) in my next blog post. However, if you want to watch me live from the event tomorrow, please follow me on my Facebook page/Twitter/Instagram (I go by the handle @soniasmusings everywhere).
Please wish me luck as I make my debut as an author in the first writing fest of my new journey.
In the blog posts that I wrote in October, I spoke about a series of my Favorite Indian Detectives. It also had my creation, the female sleuth Raya Ray who made her debut with the Thriller ‘Deal of Death’. Two months later, it gives me immense pleasure to announce that Deal of Death has recently got me the ‘Literoma Rising Star Award 2019’ for the Best Debut Author. I couldn’t have asked for a better time to declare that the book, which has held a consistent rating of 4.59 on Goodreads is finally live on Amazon. The pricing is just Rs.99. I can assure you that it has the potential to be your perfect weekend read or a Christmas/New Year gift for anyone who loves reading.
Literoma Rising Star Award 2019 for Best Debut Author
Santa has been kind to me this year and I hope I can count on my readers for the same support. I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year in advance.
Sharing the blurb of the book here –
Munshiganj is a quaint town with a rich historical background. Its biggest attraction has been a temple and mosque co-existing within the same premises along with the tomb of Nawab Rehamat Khan. Recently though, the peace of this little town has been affected by the paranormal – the temple bell rings by itself daily at midnight.
Raya Ray, an ex-marketing honcho, had been dealing with loss when a chance to help her Banker husband, Krishanu, marked her debut as a private investigator. Detective Raya Ray lands in Munshiganj in response to a call for help from Sharmila – the sister of her house- help Sutapa. Sharmila suspects foul play when the doctors at the town hospital tell her that she delivered a stillborn child. Detective Ray steps in to assist.
Raya steps into a field of landmines after the body of Dr. Sonam Misra from the same hospital is discovered on the deck of a steamer. Soon after, Raya chances upon a secret safeguarded for ages inside the temple. With the help of a local rickshaw puller Habul, she starts unraveling the mystery, unaware of the danger lurking over her as a pair of blue eyes trail her every move.
As she puts the pieces together, Detective Ray realizes that nothing and no one is what they appear to be.
Disclaimer – This post is about my experience of reading the book ‘You Beneath Your Skin’. It is not to be confused with a book review that is more analytical and exhaustive in approach.
How often do you read a book that has such a deep impact on your soul that you fumble for words to speak about it? Keigo Higashino’s books have had that effect on me almost every time. And a recent addition to the list is debut author Damyanti Biswas’ crime thriller ‘You beneath your skin’. I finished reading this book more than a month ago but I had to let the emotions sink in before I could speak about it with clarity.
Set in Delhi, this is the story of Dr. Anjali Morgan, an Indian American psychiatrist and a single mother raising an autistic teenaged son Nikhil. She had come to India to escape her strained relationship with her mother after her married life fell apart. Police commissioner Jatin Bhatt, a much-married man with a teenage son is having an extra-marital affair with Dr. Anjali. In between balancing their personal and professional lives, both witness an upsurge in rape and murder of women belonging to the lower strata in the city. While trying to help Jatin in solving the crime, Anjali lands in a life-threatening situation. By the time the truth unravels, relationships and equations have undergone a transition beyond repair.
At 390 pages, this book is not the kind that can be finished at one go. The primary reason is that it is written in such a hard-hitting way that you cannot stay indifferent to the pain and trauma of the characters. It shakes the reader up, makes her question about the kind of society we live in where danger lurks in every turn of a woman’s life and gets her into a feeling of hopelessness and anger. Sometimes, it feels so real that it doesn’t even read like fiction. Damyanti started writing this book after the horrendous Nirbhaya incident in 2012 and I am writing this review after the horrific rape and murder of Dr. Priyanka Reddy a fortnight ago. If anything, the situation has only gone from bad to worse and this book is a harsh reminder of the same.
This book peels off layers of crimes that connect the lowest strata of the society with the most privileged class of elites. From abduction, minor sex racquet, prostitution, drug abuse, acid attacks, rape, and gruesome murder, this book manages to cover a wide spectrum of crimes effortlessly. The author has shown expertise and finesse in ensuring that none of the sub-plots feel exaggerated or forced. The reader experiences a similar spectrum of emotions in the form of sympathy, hopelessness, frustration, remorse, and anger though I must mention the slight ray of hope that appears at the end of the book.
It is quite difficult to believe that this is the work of a debut author. Her command over the plot, language, development of characters, and flow of the story is commendable. It is quite evident that extensive research has led to creating this book. A lot of incidents are also inspired by the real-life circumstances that people around her have been subjected to. She has absorbed their pain and channeled it into creating a story that lays bare the skeletons of an inhuman society. And here is one author who is not ready to stop at just writing about the barbaric acts. The sale proceeds of this book will be transferred to two charitable institutions ‘Project Why’ and ‘Stop Acid Attacks’ that she has been attached to and that’s her way to bring a positive change in society.
Disclaimer – This bibliophile blogger is also an author and I made my debut with the Detective thriller ‘Deal of Death’ last year. While writing the favorite Indian Detective series, it was quite difficult to choose seven Detectives amidst many that I had read. But the intention was to keep it personal and so I blogged about only those who I had grown to love. This series saw some great responses from authors like Manreet Sodhi Someshwar, Bhaskar Chattopadhyay, and Swati Kaushal. Not to forget, even Anita Nair had liked my tweet about her Detective. But the 8th Detective is a character created from my brain and heart. So how could I not let it be a part of my favorites list! Despite the risk of making this post sound like a bit of self-promotion, I felt that there couldn’t be a better way to make some announcements with respect to the lady sleuth who created quite a furor with her entry.
Novels in the series –
Deal of Death
About the Detective –
Raya Ray, an ex-marketing honcho had been dealing with loss when a chance to help her Banker husband, Krishanu Banerjee, marked her debut as a Private Investigator in Kolkata. Raya had been handling mundane cases until she lands in Munshiganj in response to a call for assistance from the sister of her house-help.
Raya, who is well-aware of her need to get fit to keep up to her professional needs rarely has any second thoughts while ordering pastries and sweets. She is sharp and analytical while cracking mysteries. During the course of the case, she is often found to seek closure of her wounds through the happenings in her clients’ life. In the world of investigation dominated by men around her, Raya is here to smash gender stereotypes chasing chases criminals and solving cases.
Raya’s journey –
I wrote ‘Deal of Death’ as part of the Blogchatter E-book carnival in 2018. It was one of the first books to reach the download limit of 600 on the Blogchatter platform and it continued being in the ‘out of stock’ status until recently. The book opened to rave reviews and the recent review on the blog Vartika’s diary goes to prove how much this novella is popular even today. The Goodreads rating of the book has been at a consistent 4.59 for more than a year now.
Niki Marwah, as the Superintendent of Police is in charge of maintaining the law and order of Shimla. At 5ft 6inches, this razor-sharp minded investigator loves her stilettos as much as she enjoys chasing down criminals. When she is not dodging marriage proposals from her mother , she finds herself meeting men set up by her best friend Kamini aka Kam who understands how intimidating a woman in uniform can turn out to be for future prospects. When a body is discovered at the Sonargram cable car base, SP Marwah along with her team consisting of Inspector Gupta from the crime branch, the veteran Inspector Pande and the new recruit ASP Shankar Sahay start investigating the death of the 37-year-old Rakesh Mehta aka Rak – President, and CEO of a publishing firm. As the highly competent cop and her team start delving into the details of the death, involved parties start getting exposed and the truth of the events turn out to be different from they are presumed to be. During the course of the investigation, she also runs into Captain Ram Mathur, a close friend of the murdered CEO and despite the development of a budding romance, a sudden discovery of past relationships lands him in the list of suspects. This action-packed thriller takes a reader through multiple twists and turns before revealing the identity of the killer.
Janardan Maity, like Byomkesh Bakshi(by Saradindu Bandopadhyay) is not quite fond of the word detective attached to his name. Prakash Ray, an out-of-luck journalist, who is also the narrator of Maity’s adventures, has a chance encounter with this unusually intelligent and observant man at the birthday party of Ray’s uncle, Rajendra Mukherjee. Mukherjee introduces Maity as one of his closest friends who has never lost a game of chess. After the host and his second wife get murdered, all the guests gathered for the birthday party of the host turn out to be suspects in the eyes of the police. It is Maity and his logical reasoning that helps solve this mystery putting the murderer behind the bars. The climax of the novel brings back memories of Satyajit Ray’s Feluda who was also in the habit of assimilating all the parties involved in a case before revealing the truth and the identity of the killer.