A simple tale, but it keeps the reader guessing. Harin Chandra
Thrillers, especially those dealing with murders, make any reader curious. These are an opportunity for the reader to become a detective and predict the outcome.
Sharath Komarraju’s Banquet on the Dead offers such a chance with an intriguing plot.
Set in Hanamkonda in Andhra Pradesh, the story revolves around Kauveramma, an old woman, who is the most feared member of a very wealthy joint family. Her sons are considered ruffians and the women are her enemies. And so she is killed.
Enter Valmiki Nagarajan, the local police inspector, who recruits Hamid Pasha, an ex-convict, to help him unravel the mystery of Kauveramma’s death. All the family members are possible suspects and how the duo unties the knots to unmask the killer forms the rest of the tale.
As a subject, it is a very simple tale but Kommaraju has woven the details in an interesting manner. Take, for instance, the information about Hanamkonda’s history in the book. Kommaraju has paid a lot of attention to detail and the story moves from the narrow bylanes to the heritage theatres and also portrays how commercialisation has taken over the town.
All this detail does not detract from the narrative and the author keeps the reader guessing about the identity of the killer. Though there are no critical pulsating moments, except in the last two chapters, the book runs along with a fine pace and each chapter ends at an intriguing moment keeping the reader hooked.
The conversations between the inspector and the convict — representing different perspectives of each situation the duo finds itself in — add depth to the plot.
What must also be mentioned is the typography. An extremely reader-friendly font helps the reader keep turning the pages, especially important given that this is a murder mystery.