PLOT: 4/5
CLIMAX: 3.5/5

That September, they brought home a brand new Maruti Esteem car. In its gusty silver hue, it established that Sindhu and I were different… Those days, there were two types of rich people in Calcutta – one with the Maruti 800 and one with the Esteem.

~ Debarshi Kanjilal, Based on Lies: The Whole Story

My Musings

The year 2020 has seen me reading more than my usual share of psychological thrillers.

With books like The Last Mrs. Parrish” by Liv Constantine and “You Are Not Alone” by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen, I have had the opportunity to read some amazing books this year.

The latest book in my thriller bandwagon is “Based on Lies: The Whole Story” by Debarshi Kanjilal.

It is a delicately layered mystery that takes the reader on a tumultuous ride of decadence, lust, debauchery, betrayal, and unadulterated evil.

Read on to know more about my thoughts on the book and about my experience of reading it.

What to expect?

Expect a book that is a short read. Expect a mind-boggling psychological thriller. Expect a book that is quite complex and layered.

Expect a book that serves as an ugly reminder to the evil that lurks in all humans. Expect a book that isn’t an easy read by any means.

Finally, expect a dark diabolical tale of debauchery, lust, obsession, decadence, and betrayal.

Who can read?

“Based on Lies: The Whole Story” makes use of a writing style that is quite complicated.

The narrative is complexly layered in such a way that a beginner level reader would find it difficult to manoeuvre her way. In strictly that sense, it is not a book recommended for beginners. Only regular and voracious readers would do well to read it.

Let’s talk about the storyline

Anurag Sanyal is many things.

A psychopath.
A cheater.
A liar.
A lover.
A child abuser.
A troubled soul.
An obsessed man.
A violence-prone individual.
A victim of his mind.

Nobody knows his complete story. But he confesses everything in his diary, describing each crime in gory and nauseating details.

Each account is enough to shatter one’s faith in humanity and each account is more morbid than the other.

But there is just a single problem. Everything that he narrates is based on lies, and there is no differentiating the truth from the lies, the real from the unreal, and the reality from the fantasy.

“Based on Lies: The Whole Story” is the dark, diabolical tale of Anurag Sanyal and his twisted life.

How good are the characters?

The characters are the second most interesting part of the book, after the plot. We get introduced to them in levels and even then, it’s difficult to keep up.

Anurag is so intriguing that he alone is enough to get the story moving. His ideas, his mannerisms, his diary, and his confessions keep the reader second-guessing at all times.

Other characters like Aditi, Niharika, Dawa Tamang, Ansindh, Sidhu, and Shubho all have a captivating persona and interesting backstories that are intriguing and mysterious.

All characters have certain traits that define them and backstories that shape their present behaviour.

What about the writing style?

The writing style has both positives and negatives. While the positives outshine the negatives by a significant margin, the negatives only prove that there is scope for further improvement.

The most outstanding part of the book is its plot. It is complex and nuanced. What may seem like a flat piece of land to the reader, eventually turns out to be just the tip of an iceberg.

Once you start enjoying the ride, the story only sucks you in. And that – is a great thing.

Mind-boggling is one way to put it. But that would still be an understatement.

What did I like?

The book has this uncanny ability to always keep the reader on her toes.

It’s not easy to maintain the level of intrigue that Kanjilal manages to pull off throughout the book. That he manages to do that effortlessly is another feather in his cap.

The plot is so unique and unlike anything that I have read in recent years. And trust me, I do read voraciously.

Working with multiple layers and a heterogeneous mix of characters is no easy task. But Kanjilal makes it look like a cakewalk. Every single character has a place and story, and they are complex and dynamic in their dark ways.

Not a single character feels like mere embellishment. They all have a decent character profile, significant backstories, their reasons, and struggles, and they all contribute to moving the story forward.

What did I not like?

Sometimes, the story gets a little too complex. Now, I am all for books that jolt me upright and get my brain cells working but “Based on Lies: The Whole Story” takes this experience to a whole new level. Sometimes, complicating even the simplest of things.

I often had to go back again and again to the previous pages to make sense of the complicated timelines and the numerous characters. Too much of anything is bad. And that’s my biggest issue with the book.

What could have been better?

There is a lack of paragraph spacing, proper punctuations, and thorough editing which makes the whole process of reading the book little difficult.

There are places where detailing and expansion are required but the author gives in to hasty closures. There is also a conspicuous disconnect between the 1st and the 2nd parts.

The story seems to change course entirely (which is not a bad thing at all) but this transformation is not as effortless as one would have liked.

Is the climax good enough?

To be very honest, the climax of the book is a little underwhelming. Readers who are wowed by the brilliance of the first part feel a tad disappointed when they are let down by the second part. But the climax is a different story altogether.

After charting their way through the complex narrative, the reader wants answers, the reader wants all the loopholes to be plugged. But unfortunately, the climax fails to do that.

It all comes down to entertainment 

When it comes to entertainment, “Based on Lies: The Whole Story” doles it out in copious amounts. There is always one question or the other that lurks in the background, and that compels the reader to read one page after the other.

The dark undertone that laces the narrative is enough to overwhelm the readers and pique their interest. The veiled vulnerability of the book’s characters is also ample enough to keep them on the edge of their seats.

In the end

In the end, “Based on Lies: The Whole Story” is a book that proves to be a short and compelling read. One that manages to break through monotony and usher in a fresh wave of Indian writing.

Its dark, mysterious and diabolical undertones, and complex and undecipherable characters stand to prove that there is a lot of untapped talent in Indian writing.

Though the book has some issues concerning amateurish writing and a let-down climax, there is no denying the creativity and talent that has gone into its writing.

The final verdict

Must-read. Go for it.

Pick the book if

  • You are looking for a psychological thriller from a promising Indian author.
  • You like books that have complex plots and complicated characters.
  • You like books that confuse and baffle you.
  • You like books that have mental health as an underlying theme.
  • You are looking for a short and racy thriller.
  • You like exploring books by new Indian authors.

Skip the book if

  • You don’t like psychological thrillers.
  • You don’t like mysteries and thrillers.
  • You like uncomplicated reads.
  • You are looking for polished and experienced writing.

Can’t wait to read it? Buy your copy of “Based on Lies: The Whole Story” using the link below.