Author: Saurbh Katyal
Publisher: Gyaana books
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When detective Vishal Bajaj receives a call from his old flame, Aditi, on a Sunday afternoon, he is staggered by the resurgence of buried emotions. Aditi married Sunil three years ago. Now, Sunil's elder brother, Anil, has been found murdered at their farmhouse, and the first person Aditi turns to for help is Vishal. He sets out to solve the mystery with his hopeless but faithful sidekick, Pranay; and Inspector Babu, a pompous and limelight-loving policeman, for company. Will they be able to solve the mystery?
The Indian detective-thriller genre is sadly an unexplored one. The most important ingredients of this category is that it should hook you till the end. Each plot point should be deliberated and re-deliberated before their actual resolution. There should be minimal loopholes and creative liberties taken, and even if they are...there should be a solid reason behind them. A lot of authors fails terribly while tying all the loose knots in a murder mystery. Thankfully, NFFF is a refreshingly smart thriller which respects reader's intelligence and always prompts you to be one step ahead of the narrative.
One cannot reveal too much about a murder mystery, but there is so much to like in this book. Almost every character in the narrative is under suspicion, murders keep happening, hidden truths are being revealed every other chapter and the twists are thrown at you in almost every second page. There is a business tycoon family, a news-hungry reporter, a gay-lover, an ex-flame and an attention seeking cop to throw in the mix. The final clue coming from, guess what, a couple swinging party set in India is a master-stroke. Infact, the scene where Vishal encounters another female swinger is one of the best i have read this year. It is funny, mysterious yet so enjoyable.
The writer draw the readers into the minute intricacies of the murder at each step. He keeps prodding and re-prodding to think about the method of crime and motivations related to it. The dialogues are witty, concise and makes you think always in an attempt to guess the killer. The writer also doesn't shy away from showing the flawed side of Vishal who is going through an inside turbulence at seeing her ex who dumped him years ago. But it is really commendable that the author doesn't get self indulgent and start a romantic track between the two ex-lovers. The focus always remains on the murder mystery.
Ultimately what doesn't take this novel to even further heights are some clichés which could have been avoided. The cop and the assistant detective are a little too dumb for my liking, they don't necessarily have to be so unidimensional. The detective is a charmer for every women, so it gets predictable when each of them fall for him... all the time. Paras Kapoor's (Anil and Sunil's father) character became a caricature by the end because in almost every scene, he is over reacting on situations and just keep howling all the time. There is a sub-plot of Nishant, a one-side lover of Aditi but i couldn't really comprehend the significance of it to the main story.
Keep these small nitpickings apart, and you have an absolute page turner in your hand. I am going with 4/5 for Saurbh Katyal's debut novel, No flying from Fate. It is that precious murder mystery set in Indian context which is both smart and engrossing. You should kick yourself if you miss out on this one!