Looking for an M & B with a good storyline, intrigue and Indian protagonists? Pick up Metro Reads’ latest offering: Love on the Rocks by Ismita Tandon Dhankher. With all the ingredients of a “timepass read” this novel does full justice to Metro Reads’ tagline – ‘fun, fast and fiesty reads.’
Life promises to be a lot of fun for newly wed Sancha when she joins her husband Chief Officer Aaron Andrews on his merchant navy vessel, Sea Hyena. However less than 24 hours on the High seas she realizes that all is not well aboard the ship. Confronted with a series of disturbing occurences, including a theft and a murder, the inquisitive bride sets about unravelling the multiple mysteries. She soon realizes that nothing is as it seems and no one, including her husband or his best friend First Engineer Harsh Castillo, can be trusted. What does a woman in love do under such circumstances?Disclose her suspicions to the investigationg officer or give her hubby the benefit of doubt? And who is the murderer?
After the first few chapters you will begin to have your suspicions, but Dhankher manages to successfully keep you guessing till almost the end. The needle of suspicion keeps pointing to different characters; each time you pat yourself on the back for playing Sherlock , there is a new development. A die hard mystery lover might be able to nail the culprit way before he is revealed, but most readers will enjoy the little twist in the end; not Sheldonesque but nonetheless interesting.
The real strength of this debut novel is the voice that Dhankher provides to virtually all her characters. The story is told not from the point of view of a single person – Sancha. Harsh, Aaron, Raghav (the investigating officer), Popeye (the Captain) – everyone gets their say. This refreshing style provides the reader with an interesting insight into the mind and emotions of human beings, particularly of those who have to stayed away from land and their loved ones for long periods of time.
Dhankher’s writing is engaging, the language colloquial and humour, refreshing. The setting – a merchant navy ship – is new and interesting and the plot reasonably well developed. The book may not qualify as the best mystery novel of the year but it definitely does full justice to the “new genre” that Penguin has sought to introduce. A genre of books that “don’t weigh you down with complicated stories, don’t ask for much time and don’t have to be lugged around.”
It is a book for the youth of today who have neither the time nor the patience to indulge in “heavier” reads. Love on the Rocks may not give you an adrenaline rush and it doesn’t exactly compel you to burn the midnight oil just to get to the end, but that was never the intention of the series. Love on the Rocks sets a comfortable pace; it allows you to pick it up in between your chores and enjoy slices of it. No compulsions, no information…pure, simple entertainment. And it definitely qualifies as a good candidate for a Bollywood potboiler.
All in all a laudable debut novel and a great “light” read. Pick it up the next time you plan to catch a flight or want to unwind after a crazy workday.