Six Suspects: Detective Fiction Paperback – 26 Feb 2009
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"I do not normally recommend crime novels more than 500 pages long, but I am making an exception with Vikas Swarup It's unusual, witty, quirkily, cleverly plotted, intelligent, and along the way it's an informative satire on Indian politics and values...a rollicking good read" (Marcel Berlins Times)
"Gleeful, sneaky fun" (Janet Maslin New York Times)
"Fascinating, multi-voiced slice of Indian life across the castes with political corruption at its centre...a lovely, lovely book" (Sarah Broadhurst Bookseller)
"A page-turner of a mystery" (Waterstones' Quarterly)
"Neat, clever and loads and loads of fun" (Daily Sport)
'Swarup has a redeeming eye for the disparites that define Indian society.' --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product description
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In between these bookends are 4 sections each comprising 6 chapters, one for each of the suspects. The sections are headed:SUSPECTS; MOTIVES;EVIDENCE; and finally SOLUTIONS.
The suspects come from all parts of society, a bureaucrat; a politician; a Bollywood star; a graduate slum-dweller; an American redneck and a young tribal man from the Andamans. As the stories of the characters are developed we get transported all over India and experience sights and sounds of Mumbai; Delhi; Chennai; Kolkata; Srinagar; Varanasi; Lucknow; Jaisalmer; and little Andaman, no name a few. It is a very enjoyable galloping journey around India and full of drama.
The lives of the rich and poor alike are riddled with cruelty and corruption as they scrabble to get to the top or stay at the top of their pile. Innocence, kindness and care for others is only to be found on the fringes of their societies. The author pours scorn on the corrupt politicians and bureaucrats, the police, the judiciary and the business world. There is none that doeth good, no not one. At times it is a very stark portrayal of wickedness but the author writes with humour too so you get the message without feeling hectored. The American is the clown in the book but doesn't he do well!
In the end a man gets a bullet in the head and no-one sheds any tears for him, he is not the real victim of the story as you will discover if you endure to the end. A good read.
The introduction, by an investigative journalist, tells us that rich, corrupt industrialist Vicky Rai has been murdered at a party at his home (celebrating his acquital for murder). Six suspects are in custody, each in possession of a gun that could have fired the fatal bullet.
We are then taken back one by one through each of the suspects' stories and backgrounds, back up to the date of the party. Each is completely different - a Bollywood megastar, a village tribal, a mobile phone thief, a politician, an American and Vicky's own father. It takes 400 pages but eventually we see how each tale takes the suspect to the murder site, and how some are connected.
It's not overly involved, though at the end names and accusations fly thick and fast and your guess is bound to be wrong. I guessed the final twist just before it was revealed .... (to avoid spoiler, skip down a line)
*SPOILER* and then was annoyed as I felt the synopsis on the back cover needed a rewording *END SPOILER*
It's a really enjoyable read, though a few phrases of English jarred. I liked Shabnam's narration the best I think, the Bollywood story, though all had their moments, especially the slightly dumb American, over in India to meet the 'fiancee' he's been sending money to. One negative I suppose is that because each story takes 50-80 pages, you forget some of the other characters by the time they come back into the story again, but it DOES all come together at the murder scene.
Another book with a good feel for India (at least to this Western reader!) and a read to while away a few days.
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