A Closetful of Skeletons by Tanushree Podder reviewed by Mita Ghose

Too many discrepancies spoil the plot

Published - February 03, 2018 05:00 pm IST

At first glance, this detective novel by Tanushree Podder seems promising: missing Bollywood film star Ramola suddenly resurfaces in a small Kumaoni hill town from where she issues invitations for her fortieth birthday celebrations to five men she had known intimately back in Mumbai: a famous filmmaker, a powerful politician, an underworld don, a former superstar and a scheming gigolo.

Ramola has a nasty surprise in store for these men, some of whom had been instrumental in her celluloid success, but had also exploited her cruelly: at the party, she announces her plans of publishing her memoir, a no-holds-barred exposé featuring them.Hackles are raised, fear is generated and murder is inevitable. With the premise established and expectations raised, the novel proceeds to destroy its own potential.

Podder’s efforts to prepare convincing backstories for her main protagonists notwithstanding, the candid reminiscences of the men from Mumbai are out of character.

And then, we never stop questioning the down-to-earth Ramola’s reasons for her memoir’s risk-fraught pre-publication announcement when the book’s release alone would have constituted sweet revenge. Her hill-town acquaintances remain two-dimensional figures, trying our patience with their long, stilted conversations that don’t necessarily take the story forward.

As we read on, crime scenes are contaminated, confidential findings shared with potential suspects, authenticity sacrificed and logic disregarded. By then, nothing — the laboured pace, the watered-down suspense, the discrepancies in the description of scenes, the editorial lapses and even the absurdity of the denouement, followed by a hurried attempt to justify it — can surprise us.

Nothing, except Podder’s revelation that actual research went into the writing of this novel.

A Closetful of Skeletons; Tanushree Podder, Harper Black, ₹250

The author, a Kolkata-based freelance editor, enjoys reading, writing and travelling.

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.