The Reluctant Detective by Kiran Manral
When I found out that “The Reluctant Detective” was up for review at Blogadda, it was a no brainer to sign up. I was curious to know what kind of a book Kiran would write. I knew her as someone with a strong sense of compassion and ownership. I knew that she noticed and cared about the pain of others – which is how India Helps was born. I was a daily witness to her dry sense of humor. No, actually it is an instinct for the wry observations of life. Those tiny and large details that add meaning to what you already see… So what kind of a book would it be?
All of the above, none of the above. For me, The Reluctant Detective is fascinating for its point of view. It is that candid manifestation of the thoughts of the character. Random quirks and the knack of looking at the mundane and turning it into art. And make no mistake, for a rolicking, light hearted read to pick up and inhale, this book packs a pretty solid punch in terms of depth. Yes, through the eyes of a housewife with the leisure to choose her problems and indulge in them.
I’ll to the ordinary parts of the review in two lines. Humorous, entertaining, light, extremely readable book. Contemporary fiction at its smoothest.
What I treasure about the book is its transparent, even at times naive “Kay”. The utter honesty of the train of thoughts rambling through the pages is I think what captivated me. I think like this too. I obsess over things others may think trivial too. I do invest a lot of myself in my quirky priorities. I can relate with this book, and I think that it describes the truth of the background track running in most minds.
Another thing that I really enjoyed was the solving of the mystery from the point of view of a “side-kick” with her own agendas and priorities. I really enjoyed how Kiran takes this much ignored position and makes it human, even important. For is it not Kay who finds clues?
What takes the prize? It is undoubtedly the ability of Kiran to laugh at herself, which lends the book that unique flavor. That, and episodes of pure snark. I think that will remain with me for a long time.
What could be better? Well… let me begin with saying that what is missing is always infinite, and a poor measure of anything. At the same time, human nature being what it is, my latent grammar Nazi tendencies must find voice. I think the flow of the writing could have done with someone (like an editor?) going through and seeing the rhythm of the words – something I am myself often guilty for. I don’t think an author can really catch those sentences that make perfect sense to the writer, but ramble for the reader. As a result, there are parts where the book kind of pulls you out of the story where you process a sentence. It is entirely possible that I’m seeing this as faulty editing simply because I know Kiran or am guilty of this myself.
That said, this is a very subjective subject. And the story certainly is enticing enough for you to get over the pause and jump right in again.