Title: Deal of Death: Introducing Raya Ray
Author: Sonia Chatterjee
Publication date: May 22, 2018
Genre: Mystery & Crime
Munshiganj is a quaint town with a rich historical background. It’s biggest attraction has been a temple and mosque co-existing within the same premises along with the tomb of Nawab Rehamat Khan. Recently though, the peace of this little town has been affected by the paranormal – the temple bell rings by itself daily at midnight.
Raya Ray, an ex-marketing honcho had been dealing with loss when a chance to help her Banker husband, Krishanu, marked her debut as a private investigator. Detective Raya Ray lands in Munshiganj in response to a call for help from Sharmila – the sister of her house- help Sutapa. Sharmila suspects foul play when the doctors at the town hospital tell her she delivered a stillborn child and detective Ray steps in to assist.
Raya steps into a field of landmines after the body of Dr. Sonam Misra from the same hospital is discovered on the deck of a steamer and she chances upon a secret safeguarded for ages inside the temple. With the help of local rickshaw puller Habul, Raya starts unraveling the mystery, unaware of the danger lurking over her as a pair of blue eyes trail her every move.
As she puts the pieces together, detective Ray realizes that nothing and no one are what they appear to be.
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I heard about the book from the author’s tweets, and I knew I had to read this one because I love detective novels. Plus, she is the winner of the Literoma Rising Star Award 2019 for Best Debut Author!
Chatterjee’s detective is Bengali, female, carries a firearm (and is not afraid to wield it), and is also well-versed in martial arts. She is also sensitive, generous, and emotional apart from being sharp-witted. In my opinion, this is a cracker of a combination.
Her style of writing reminds me of Satyajit Ray’s Feluda novels in English. Hallmarks of her writing: clean prose, simple language, and a leisurely pace which picks up at times to convey danger and describe violence.
She also shares interesting nuggets of history, and explores themes of communal harmony, hospital administration, and paranormal activity throughout the book.
Her heroine is feisty and brave while also simultaneously being vulnerable and too trusting.
The mystery unfolds neatly and gradually, helping to develop all the characters adequately, and leaving subtle clues for the reader. All the loose ends are properly tied up–but there’s still a bonus mystery at the end for us to relish!
The storyline is not unnecessarily complex, and brings together the past and the present without confusing the reader.
Dialogues are believable and snappy, and help keep the pace of the story going. As a debut novella, it is a superlative effort.
I’m looking forward to reading more Raya Ray novels!
(I accessed the book through a Kindle Unlimited subscription.)
Available at Amazon India