Saturday, June 03, 2023


Title: A Death In The Himalayas

Author: Udayan Mukherjee

Publisher: Picador

Pages: 280

My GoodReads Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐


This novel was highly recommended. Udayan’s own professional credentials are impressive. So I really hoped that this book, touted as India’s mystery novel, would not be disappointing.


When British author-activist Clare Watson is found dead in the forests in the fictional village of Birtola, the eyes of the world are once again riveted upon India. The nation’s dubious reputation as “no country for women” is highlighted. Neville Wadia, retired from the Mumbai Police, and his wife, Shahnaz, who live in the village, and who counted Clare among their friends are shocked to learn that their friend is no more. Identifying the killer will be a challenge.

Clare’s book, India: A Minority Report, about the treatment of the lower castes, religious minorities, women and the LGBT community, was a subject of controversy. Besides, Clare has had run-ins with a local politician, Gopal Kabarwal, and a landshark named Tamta, besides several local men on the issue of domestic violence. Also, she was pregnant but the child wasn’t her husband's.

Which of Clare’s many run-ins led to her life being snuffed out?


The book is written in the third person omniscient point of view.

The language wasn’t up to the mark. "Neville was tossing his head."

Another sentence reads: "A British foreign office spokesperson confirmed that it was in close contact with the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs."

Shouldn’t the ‘it’ have been changed to ‘the foreign office,’ considering that the noun in the above sentence is the spokesperson?

Incorrect punctuation marred the effect. "Neville didn’t open his eyes, but as if in the throes of a seizure seemed to register her words." The prose also suffered from missing articles.

"After crossing a cluster of fruit orchards, bare trees he could recognize as apple or peach, but not the senior man, Ravi slowed…" Here, the author means that the senior man could not recognise the trees.

Elsewhere, Neville describes Peter as, "He hails from the financial markets." How can a person hail from financial markets?

The author refers to a police officer, Ravi Dubey, as Detective Dubey. In India, a detective is a private eye. Police personnel are not called Detective in India.


One character, Santosh Negi from the Nainital Police, is addressed as Santoshji the first time, and as Negiji just two short paragraphs later.


What I appreciated was the setting, the mountains and the forests, and how they loomed large over the events. The author outdid himself describing the mountains.


My favourite part of the book included the observations that the author made about the city. How people from the villages are dying to live in the cities, while those in the cities want to live in the villages, and all this while the villages are slowly overcome by the curse of development. Also, how the romance of living in a remote village can only be enjoyed through the eyes of privilege.



The author also pointed out the vitriolic climate prevalent in the country today where right-wing Hindus are constantly taking offence.


Nor did I have any issues with the investigation. All in all, a well written mystery, as promised by the blurb.

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