Author: Amitabh Manu
Publisher: Frog Books
In hindsight, 'The blogging Affair' reflects the dark, ugly side of vanity publishing in India. It is hard to point out any other reason how such a book can get into the market in the first place. This is lazy, almost arrogant publishing at its best. It is so laidback, that it even forgets the most basic ingredient in a book - a plot.
For the sake of it - here is the flimsy story: "A young woman’s body is found murdered in a suburban flat. The evidence reveals an affair with a married man. To the seasoned police force this is just another routine love triangle affair gone wrong. However, as other evidence comes to light, they are realising that there’s more to this crime than meets the eye. One detective comes across an anonymous blog and it sheds truth upon the case. The ramblings capture the ebb and flow of a criminal’s mind – and a murder of lust and betrayal: a sex-crazed husband wants the best of both worlds; the love of his wife and the challenge and raw passion of his mistress. When things take a turn toward hopelessness, will the husband end the affair? How far will he go to rid himself of this complication? The investigation twists and turns as the detectives solve this mind-bending case. The intrigue will leave you wanting more. The mystery will leave you perplexed. And you’ll ask, “Who is the blogger?”
Generally, i find writing book review of the murder mystery most difficult because of the inherent nature of the genre. But i cannot say the same for this book since there is no mystery at all in the book. That is a totally different thing that it rambles on and on for more than 340 odd pages. It is an unedited version of the manuscript, and i am sure that no one remotely associated with the book - author, editor, publisher had any idea what they are doing with it. Keep aside the numerous spelling, punctuation and grammatical mistakes, it just does not engage you at the most basic level.
Narrating the blog posts in a reverse chronological order and keeping the tone strictly gender-neutral raises red flags early in the book about the identity of the blogger. The married person's narrative is one big hoax and nothing else; writing about perverted sex moments without any links with the main story is ridiculous to say the least. I am not prudish by any means but continuously rambling about sex life without taking the story forward is insipid and frustrating to say the least.
The conversations between the cops and portraying their internal friction while solving the murder case is interesting to start with, but soon it also goes down the hill because there is no even an iota of mystery. In fact, there are such impractical and illogical plot points which will make you cringe no end. Sample these: The cops decides the sex of the blogger based on the colour of the dreams. The cops interrogates the married person on the phone rather than arresting him. The cops blatantly put forward all the clues in the front of all people remotely associated with the case as if solving a murder mystery is a child play.
It is not that writing is bad, i have read worse. It is the lack of a proper plot, structure and any sophistication which kills you no end. Transposing all the blog entries on a book doesn't make sense till you provide a cohesive feel to it. There are far too many digressions in the name of education, quotes, religion, sexual frustrations that you just don't get a feel of the main story.
I am going with 1/5 for Amitabh Manu's debut novel 'The Blogging Affair'. It could have been far more rewarding read if there was some thought process gone behind the plot and the narrative rather than just filling in the pages with nonsense clatter. It's back-breakingly long, and I can't remember one plot point that made me feel excited about this book. Indeed, an affair gone horribly wrong.