The Curse of Kuldhara is a refreshing, gripping and humorous murder mystery with lots of entertainment and Indian feel and I’m rating it solely based on entertainment. I needed this after a terrible week.
Disclaimer – Many thanks to the publisher and Blogchatter for the book as part of Blogchatter Book Review Program.
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What can possibly go wrong when fame and fortune come knocking? Plenty! We return to the charming and colourful lanes of Gwaltoli to revisit Prachand Tripathi, our favourite desi detective and owner of Kanpur Khoofiya Pvt Ltd. While he has progressed from locating lost pets and garments to problems of gravitas, their moderate fame doesn’t impress wife and CFO Vidya Tripathi who still complains about wasted potential and the tepid life they lead. As if on cue, an unusual but promising proposal comes their way, one they simply cannot refuse. It’s an invitation to oversee a film shoot based on their lives, whisking them away to the resplendent deserts of Rajasthan. What follows is an unbelievable and spine-chilling adventure that will drag them through a morass of inexplicable events, dangerous secrets and a cursed, abandoned village that wreaks havoc on the living and dead alike.
The Curse of Kuldhara is humorous cozy mystery, second book in Kanpur Khoofiya Pvt. Ltd. series, that revolves around Prachand Tripathi lead detective of Kanpur Khoofiya getting involved in another adventurous and mystery at the ruins of Kuldhara, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan. The story is about unhappy marriage, affairs, blind love, superstitions, insecurity, obsession, family, friendship, and lots of drama.
The writing is engaging and entertaining, short chapters making it fast-paced story told in omniscient third person narrative. The plot is interesting, intriguing, and suspenseful with lots of characters and many suspects. I haven’t read the first book, there was a slight mention of mystery from the first book but I don’t think I missed anything so it’s safe to say this can be read as a standalone.
I loved the introduction of the characters in the beginning, especially of Prachand Tripathi and his family. These lots are so quirky and adorable. The family dynamic is amusing. I enjoyed their bickering, love and support for each other. They perfectly represent a big Indian family giving this story a desi vibe. Though the family didn’t exactly play role in the main mystery except, of course, Kanpur Khoofiya members, they made the story super enjoyable.
The female Tripathis are formidable. I loved Ammaji – the matriarch, Rachana Tripathi- Prachand’s mother, and Vidya Thripathi- Prachand’s wife and partner of Kanpur Khoofiya. When these three are together the scenes are to die for. Chachu Tripathi- Prachand’s uncle added his own spice to the story and there is the younger brother, an aspiring actor and director. Yatish is Prachand’s childhood best friend and also assistant at Kanpur Khoofiya.
Prachand is an interesting character. He is gullible when it came to financial matters of his agency which he wisely handed over to his wife. He is sharp, observant, kind, and empathetic desi detective. I liked his style of deduction analysis, ability to read people. It was lovely the way he involved his wife in case and respected her thoughts and feelings.
As the mystery takes place at the TV series shooting in Kuldhara, there are many other secondary characters, including the casanova producer with iffy background who involved and invited Pranchand to oversee the series shoot as it is based on Prachand’s life; the hosts of Haveli- the pompous distance cousin of royal family who preferred to be called King and his lovely wife- where they were going to stay for the time duration of shooting; director of the series; lead actor who has hard time to get over his stage performing experience; and high maintenance bitter actress who is murdered.
There is other whole entourage of characters that makes the mystery more complex and hard to figure out the culprit. And formidable investigating officer, Maya Gupta and officers working under her. Even with so many characters it never felt confusing. They all had distinctive personalities. Some of them has a little background which made them stand out most.
I usually don’t like local dialect in Indian fiction but in this author made it identity of the story making it more fun and desi. I really enjoyed it. For those who aren’t aware of the Indian languages, there is a glossary at the end explaining the meaning of every Indian word, chapter-wise.
The setting of Gwaltoli in the beginning and then Kuldhara and Jaisalmer for most part of the book is amazing and my most favorite part. I loved the mention of food and culture which is in abundance. Kuldhara has a haunted site reputation not just in the book but also in reality and I liked how author created a paranormal angle in the mystery by perfectly weaving legend and folklores of Kuldhara and ruins of the deserted village.
The mystery is interesting. Author placed red herrings so well that I almost couldn’t figure out who the culprit was. But yes mention of key points in second half gave the idea of who the culprit might be but motive wasn’t clear until it was revealed. The climax is tense and adrenalin filled with another attack, catching the culprit and confession. I liked satisfactory wrap up of the story. I wish I could have thoughts of other suspects after the culprit was arrested. The paranormal activity and its shock in the end was unexpected. I can’t wait to for next books and I’m sure getting first book of the series.
Overall, The Curse of Kuldhara is refreshing, entertaining, gripping, well-written, and fast-paced cozy murder mystery with many quirky characters and lots of Indian feel. The seasonal mystery lovers might not find it as impressive but readers who want entertainment in mystery or cozy mystery lovers will definitely enjoy this.
I highly recommend this if you like,
Indian roots in story
gripping writing and storyline
Quirky adorable characters
Glossary of Indian dialect in the end
Legend and folklores
Atmospheric setting with vivid description
Touch of paranormal aspect
Lots of banter and drama
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