There’s a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in

The ambulance rushed through the empty lanes to keep signaling the emergency its occupants were facing. Sanjay kept comforting his unconscious mother, while his wife, Gauri continued crying incessantly. The old lady had tumbled down the stairs and slipped into unconsciousness. The lady accompanying them was the hotel manager Pema who kept wondering about the ill-fate of this family on vacation.

The Government hospital functioned despite the minimum set-up and restricted facilities. The nearest private hospital involved at least four hours’ journey through the hilly terrain and the family couldn’t afford to lose any more time.

As the ambulance entered the Government hospital, most of the hospital staff looked annoyed at being woken up at such an unearthly hour. The Resident Medical Officer (RMO), realizing the gravity of the situation called his senior who assured him of arriving soon.

Pema tried comforting a visibly emotional Gauri. “It’s been a while that we had taken a vacation together. My father-in-law passed away two years back. The family had been distraught. It was only recently that my mother-in-law, Renu Bakshi had started getting back to normal. If only we knew what fate had in store for us!” Gauri lamented.

The doctors struggled to bring Renu to a stable condition. A cardiac arrest in the wee hours of the morning made their efforts futile. After obtaining the requisite permission, Gauri and Sanjay left with Renu’s corpse for the last rites.

A week later, Pema received a call from Gauri to thank her and request her presence at the condolence meeting at their residence, three days later.

When Pema reached the address mentioned in the message, she saw a gathering. Gauri attended to the guests while Sanjay performed the rituals. After the usual pleasantries and prayer offering, Gauri got Pema seated. As Pema fiddled with her mobile in the second last row, she overheard a conversation between two ladies in the last row.

“Gauri is an amazing daughter-in-law. Renu had subjected her to such inhuman torture. If I was in her place, I would be celebrating Renu’s death today”, one of the voices said.

“Renu and her husband kept pestering Gauri’s father for more dowry while behaving atrociously with her. Her father died out of stress. They didn’t even let Gauri attend his funeral. Two years back when Gauri conceived, I thought things will get better for her. But look at her bad luck, she had a miscarriage”, another voice spoke.

“It was never a miscarriage. Renu had bribed one of the hospital nurses for the prenatal sex determination. The moment Renu knew it was a girl; she forced Gauri to abort it. Sanjay kept hitting her till she agreed. And then the abuse continued in all forms – verbal, emotional and physical. Last year, it stopped for a while when Mr. Bakshi died due to accidental electrocution. That incident should have put an end to their cruel behavior. But Renu continued punishing Gauri for not bearing the family a son.” The first voice said.

Pema looked at Gauri with new-found empathy. She hoped that Gauri and Sanjay discover happiness in the future. Pema smiled as she saw Gauri stealing glances at Sanjay. But she could never hear the words that Gauri whispered while looking at her husband, “Sanjay Bakshi, you are next.”

Welcoming 2020 with awards and accolades

Happy New Year to all the readers of soniasmusings.com. I wish you a great 2020 filled with happiness and peace.

Life has become a roller-coaster ride ever since I published my book ‘Deal of Death’ on Amazon. Barring the short family vacation that took me to Bankura and Bishnupur, I have spent the whole of last week working on promotions and marketing of my book on various social media platforms. The efforts were rewarded when it won me the Best Debut Author (Fiction) at the Literoma Rising Star Awards, held at the New Town Book Fair, Kolkata on January 1st, 2020. I couldn’t have asked for a better start to the year.

Literoma Rising Star Award for Best Debut Author 2019 (Fiction)
Literoma Rising Star Award for Best Debut Author 2019 (Fiction)

The writing journey began in September 2017 after I decided to quit Banking and move to Kolkata. I could have never mustered the courage to follow my heart if I didn’t have my son Tuneer occupying a major portion of my heart. life and time. So, when I went on the stage to receive the trophy and certificate, I ensured to take him along. It was a delight to see him accept the award. The Banking awards are slowly but gradually making way for the new awards in my writing profession.

Sharing a few snaps from the event where the husband, who’s usually reluctant to click pictures, happily turned into a photographer. I could also sense a tinge of pride in my father’s eyes who had kindly agreed to accompany us for the event.

Tuneer accepting the award
Tuneer accepting the award
A great start to 2020
A great start to 2020

Also, it gives me immense pleasure to announce that Deal of Death has made it to the Top 100 New releases in the category of Crime, Thriller, and Mystery at No. 50.  If you love reading a fast-paced Detective thriller, please consider buying a copy from this LINK.

The book is available in the format of an e-book. However, it is NOT mandatory to own a kindle to purchase it. Kindle app works on any smartphone and that is enough to buy a copy and read the book.

My family at the event
My family at the event

Lastly, the updated list of Top Indian Blogs (2019-2020) was released today and it is a pleasant surprise to see that my blog has made it to this esteemed list for the second consecutive year. It wouldn’t have been possible without the support and encouragement of my subscribers. Thank you for choosing to be a part of my journey.

Making it to the Top Indian Blogs list for the second consecutive time
Making it to the Top Indian Blogs list for the second consecutive time

I will be back very soon with a few more updates on the book and the upcoming Orange Flower Awards 2020 by Women’s Web. Stay tuned for the details.

The Big Announcement – my book ‘Deal Of Death’ is live on Amazon

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.

Get a copy of the book here.

Literoma Rising Star Award for Best Debut Author

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.

 

 

The experience of reading ‘You Beneath Your Skin’ by Damyanti Biswas

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.

You Beneath Your Skin by Damyanti Biswas
You Beneath Your Skin by Damyanti Biswas

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.

The experience of reading Kanpur Khoofiya Pvt. Ltd by Richa S. Mukherjee

Months ago, I had decided to stop writing detailed book reviews because it took away the happiness of reading. The critic in me could take a backseat while my bibliophilic entity could savor the world of written words. That is why it is essential, to begin with, a disclaimer first – this post is not a book review in the strictest sense but more on the lines of sharing my experience of reading Richa S. Mukherjee’s latest release ‘Kanpur Khoofiya Pvt. Ltd’.

Anyone who has ever lived in a small town would know how every small town holds a flavor unique to its people, traditions, and culture. That is why I would want to first mention the strongest aspect of this book which is the setting of its plot in the town of Kanpur. The author manages to take the reader on a ride through the lanes of Kanpur into Awadh Nivas, the residence of the Tripathi clan. Every character, scenario, festival, and even their food choices feel amazingly real and relatable. Kudos to the author for her sharp observation skills in creating this fictitious world by drawing inspiration from the real world.

Kanpur Khoofiya Pvt. Ltd. in my possession
Kanpur Khoofiya Pvt. Ltd. in my possession

Enter Prachaand Tripathi aka Prachi and his partner in the real and professional life, Vidya Tripathi aka Viddu. Together, they run Kanpur Khoofiya Pvt. Ltd, a Detective agency that survives on mundane cases but aspires to be much more. Often they find themselves spending more on keeping friends and acquaintances entertained (unwillingly, though) than earning through prospective clients.

The Tripathi’s (other than the detective couple) consisting of Ammaji Rampyari, mother Rachna, father Dinbandhu, uncle Dinanath and brother Bhushan (the Kanpuriya Justin Bieber) are a hilarious bunch. As their daily life unfolds through the pages of the story, I often found myself laughing my heart out. If there is one quotient that the book excels in, it is humor. Richa’s sense of humor keeps the plot from never becoming too grim.

Continue reading “The experience of reading Kanpur Khoofiya Pvt. Ltd by Richa S. Mukherjee”

Favorite Indian Detectives – Raya Ray by Sonia Chatterjee

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.

Who –

Raya Ray

Creator –

Sonia Chatterjee

Novels in the series –

Deal of Death

About the Detective –

Raya Ray by Sonia Chatterjee
Raya Ray by Sonia Chatterjee

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.

Continue reading “Favorite Indian Detectives – Raya Ray by Sonia Chatterjee”

Favorite Indian Detectives – Niki Marwah by Swati Kaushal

Who –

Niki Marwah

Creator –

Swati Kaushal

Novels in the series –

Drop Dead

Lethal Spice

All that Glitters (short story – kindle edition)

About the Detective –

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.

Drop Dead by Swati Kaushal
Drop Dead by Swati Kaushal

Continue reading “Favorite Indian Detectives – Niki Marwah by Swati Kaushal”