Drop Dead; Swati Kaushal, Hachette India, Rs.250.

In scenic Sonargam, a body appears to have fallen off the cable car at a time the cable cars are supposed to have shut down. Niki Marwah is called and, in a span of three days, she aims to solve the case and attend her feisty grandma’s birthday. Filled with all the drama of a good, gripping thriller, this is the first of a new series on Niki Marwah, Superintendent of Police of Shimla, whose specialty is to solve complicated cases efficiently and deal with the Marwah clan a little inefficiently.

Sons of Sita; Askok Banker; Wisdom Tree, Rs.350.

Ten years have passed since Rama banished Sita. Now, she lives in Maharishi Valmiki’s remote forest ashram, as her sons Luv and Kush grow proficient in the arts of war. At Ayodhya, Rama’s growing ambitions and his war-mongering advisors motivate him to conduct the Ashwamedha yagna. The Ayodhya army follows the sacred stallion in a campaign of conquest that seems unstoppable until two striplings capture the horse and defy the military might of Ayodhya and Rama himself.

The Magic Web and Other Stories; Ashapurna Debi, translated by Jharna Sanyal; Orient Blackswan, Rs.395.

A collection of 18 short stories on the lives of widows. Known for her incisive chronicles of the Bengal’s middle-class home and its periphery, Ashapurna Debi’s stories speak of suppressed histories of intimate lives and probe into the familial and social dynamics to expose the myth of stereotypes, analysing the play of gender, caste and class.Through these stories, we are introduced to women who are bound by rituals and interested in gossip, living the lives of the widows dictated by the shastras.

There are also tales where traces of deeply entrenched desires, expressed through gestures and silences, signify the buried emotions in these women’s lives. These narratives show a rare sensitivity to the deprivations and vulnerabilities, the triumphs and rebellion, the noise amid the silences of the widow and her world. 

Labyrinth: Short stories; Litizen.com, Rs.195.

A short story collection by a group of writers, these stories in various genres unfold against much talked about, yet unique, settings. While the first story is set in Afghanistan with emotions that are universal, the other stories follow with backdrops of Mumbai, Kanha National Park, the Himalayas, the virtual world, jungles, and many more. The last story, The Labyrinth, draws us to Ancient Greece with the tale of the Minotaur.

The Mountains of The Moon; Bibhutibhushan Bandhopadhyay, translated by Rathin Banerjere, Supernova, Rs.150.

Renowned for his novels like Pather Panchali and Aparajito, Bandhopadhyay’s forte has been his portrayal of man in the midst of nature. On the one hand, this is the story of Shankar, a boy from a remote village who dreams of conquering the Mountains of the Moon in Africa. On the other, it’s the tale of Diego Alvarez, the intrepid explorer and his lifelong quest for the elusive diamond mines in the heart of Richterveldt Mountains. The weaving of these two characters, set apart by age and geography, creates a gripping tale of the triumph of human spirit.