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Author Shakuntala Banaji - BookViral Spotlight Review
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In the sweltering heat of a Delhi summer, Sara and Adam, two British backpackers, arrive in Delhi in a state of fear and exhaustion. Their story is deceptively simple: trekking near an isolated lake in the high Himalayas, they have encountered a forest village full of hostile women, and stumbled on a grotesque corpse, almost certainly a White male. Their host in Delhi is Antonio Sinbari, an expat Italian tycoon with an interest in acquiring Himalayan land for his latest development project. He insists that acting police chief Hàrélal should investigate, and do it discreetly. Hàrélal who is beset by personal demons – his fiesty daughter Tanya, a desire to be promoted – agrees. A suspicious foreign death in India does not look good for anyone.
Propelled by police chief Hàrélal’s ambition, and a sense that the young tourists have lied about their misadventure in the mountains, maverick detective Kailash Karmel finds himself en route to the Himalayas, to a village called Saahitaal. Truth Lake. It is there in the pouring monsoon rain, surrounded by lonely women, and maddened by a growing infatuation for one of his suspects, that Karmel’s morbid investigation will trigger violence, paranoia, and another murder.
Murder and ambition set the scene for an exhilarating read in Truth Lake, the new release from Shakuntala Banaji. An edgy and atmospheric tale with dark overtures it’s not a tale for the faint hearted with Banaji notably retaining that often elusive balance between tension and suspense as events gather increasing momentum. It certainly proves quite harrowing at times, but in contrast to the genre propensity for shock value or exaggerated violence, Banaji keeps her readers on edge by delivering a tale that is, above all, plausible. There’s a real sense of legitimacy and urgency that pervades her pages as several narrative threads come together with plenty of unpredicted twists and turns along the way. On cursory reflection it’s simply a cracking story, but the thematic undertones of seduction, self-doubt, and redemption work well to introduce a timely and poignant level of social commentary which adds further depth to both plot and characters. It is, however, the latter that ultimately makes this a real page turner. Well observed and cleverly nuanced, they linger in the memory beyond what is an unexpected, but highly satisfying denouement.
Shortlisted for the Debut Dagger, Truth Lake has all the hallmarks of a best seller and is recommended without reservation!
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