Book: JUNI DAGGER – MURDERS IN MERAUPATNAM
Author: Arjun Chandra Kathpalia
Genre: Crime, Fiction
The port town of Meraupatnam is rocked by serial sniper attacks where residents of the posh Dormeth Lane are picked as targets. When situation gets out of control, the mayor calls in the most experienced and the ‘best of them all’ detective Juni Dagger to solve the mystery behind these killings. Since Juni doesn’t have a permanent assistant, a guy called Hugo Monroe is hired to assist him on the case. The ace detective also bumps into a stranger called Cameron, who eventually becomes his ally. Things become messier when Juni finds himself being the next target. The three of them together set out a plan to catch the mastermind, the villain, who is also known as Veron.
If you are looking for a detective, who is all suited booted, donning a hat and holding a cigar, then you might get disappointed because Juni is nowhere close to that. He has a distinctive way of solving a case and i.e. with the help of food. Most of his case related discussions happen over food and that is also probably the only time when he thinks like a dinosaur. Not to forget that some specific foods also lead him closer to the actual killer. Not just Juni, both of his partners are equally die hard food lovers. So much so that all three of them are mostly found sitting inside shawarma or doughnut cafes satisfying their hunger pangs.
But the same concept becomes irksome when few pages into the book and you start feeling that you are more on a culinary trip rather than reading a crime thriller. So much food is discussed that the whole storyline gets deviated in between.
First half of the story is well written with a very tight plot. You will feel that author knows exactly when to start and where to stop. But soon this notion changes as you enter the dragged second half. With much unnecessary detailing here and there, the vision is somehow lost.
The camaraderie between Juni and Cameron is something to look out for. Their easy flirting ways give it a light touch, their comic banters keep the humour up. This book doesn’t qualify for a nail-biting mystery since it is quite obvious who the killer is by the time you reach half way. It somehow fails to build up that intrigue which is expected out of a thriller. But somewhere, there is a genuine effort to deliver a decent piece of story and that does reach out loud and clear.
Arjun Chandra Kathpalia, with his debut novel, looks promising. This 16-year-old will reach there in no time.