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Monday, December 28, 2015

Book Review: The Murder of Sonia Raikonnen by Salil Desai

Title: The Murder of Sonia Raikonnen
Author: Salil Desai
Publisher: Fingerprint Publishing
Genre: Murder Mystery (Fiction)
Date:  2015
Price: Rs.250
Pages: 326

The story begins with a strange incident that the author has chosen as a starter to leave the reader aghast and wondering "to themselves "did it really happen?", setting the perfect stage for the story to unfold. It then shifts to the plot where a woman's body has been found at the edge of a park near the wire mesh as if clinging for help. It is the corpse of Sonia Raikonnen, a Finnish citizen. The brutal murder of a girl which looked like rape on a superficial view but only a disguise to depict that later sets in motion a hunt for her murderer. 

Inspector Salalkar gets gearing into finding who could be the killer, who could have the greatest motive in killing her. The writer chooses to move the story on multiple parallel tracks with each short chapter for a character involved which works beautifully as the multiple folds of mystery unravels. On one side one gets an insight into the life and people in Sonia's life but the writer brilliantly gives away only a little each time. Though the reader is made to think he can predict "what next" the author uses this strategy to add more layers of complication and confusion to case. As each person had a motive to kill Sonia, on one track is Badri Tiwari, a driver who runs away with Sonia's bag to his home town;on the other hand the news of her murder un-nerves a corrupt and maligned politician. Then her boyfriend Vaino tries to flee back to Finland before he is caught in the fear of being charged for killing her, as he had a big fight with Sonia visible to everyone in the hotel they were putting up at and he is sure to be a chief suspect.

Her parents are brought into picture who unravel the purpose of her repeated visits to India adds to the web woven thus far. Inspector Saralkar and his team members, each chase a different end and find each suspect equally convincing to have a motive to murder. Who actually did kill her is only unraveled much later with the writer revealing it in very clear terms.

The strategy of running on different parallel tracks yet making a puzzle appear unsolvable is a rare art and the writer exploits it completely indelible ring a book you would want to return to each time you have spare five minutes.An absolutely gripping and interesting thriller which plays on the confusion factor and takes the reader on a roller coaster ride. A recommended read in the genre. 

The language is simple and the editing is crisp delivering it with no drag even for a line.Kudos to the editor here. All in all the story is like a puzzle that get miss arranged every time as anew piece is unraveled. A perfect blend for lovers of crime fiction.

Rating: 4 stars on 5

About the Author

Salil Desai is an author and film-maker. The Murder of Sonia Raikkonen is his fourth book and the second one in the Inspector Saralkar Mystery series. He has penned two more crime novels, Killing Ashish Karve and Murder on a Side Street, as well as a collection of short stories, Lost Libido and Other Gulp Fiction. His writing has been praised by well-known Indian authors Shashi Tharoor, Shobhaa De and Saaz Aggarwal, while his books have received good reviews in The Hindu, The Pioneer, DNA, First City, The Tribune, Afternoon Despatch & Courier, etc.

An alumnus of Film & Television Institute of India (FTII), his dramatized training videos ( are much appreciated in the corporate world, while his short films Making Amends and To Khayega Kya have been screened at various film festivals. Salil also conducts workshops in creative writing and film making for aspiring authors at British Library and leading educational institutions. Over 400 articles, travelogues and features written by him have appeared in The Times of India, Indian Express, DNA, The Tribune, Readers Digest, etc. He lives with his wife and two sons in Pune

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