PLOT: 2.5/5 CHARACTERS: 3/5 WRITING: 2.5/5 ENTERTAINMENT: 3/5
“This time she needs the child alive, there was no need to cause an accident, this time she would use the toddler as a bargaining chip as a bait…”– Anuj Tikku, Lulla Bai
The recent months have seen me reading a lot of crime fiction books, be it murder mysteries, financial crimes, or any other crime-related saga. Some of my recent favourites have been Counterfeit by Kirstin Chen, The Night Shift by Alex Finlay, Cover Story by Susan Rigetti, and Copy Cat by Alex Lake. My most recent read is yet another crime fiction, this time about a serial killer on the loose.
Who can read?
The book makes use of simple and elementary English and can be easily picked up by beginners.
What to expect?
Expect a short read of under 120 pages. Expect a book that combines crime fiction and drama. Expect a book with a female serial killer as the central character. Expect a book set in the Indian city of Mumbai. Finally, expect a book that combines both drama and crime in equal doses.
The summary of Lulla Bai
Shanta Bai, a woman from a small village in Gujarat arrives in Mumbai to fulfill her dreams of leading a blissful life. Her husband Gagan Bhai, is a hardworking man who owns and runs a Kirana shop in a busy neighbourhood. Shanta Bai also joins the business and starts supporting her husband. But alas! The dreams that she had, start falling apart when she is unable to conceive. As if her own guilt isn’t sufficient enough, she becomes the target of the constant bullying of her in-laws.
Hopeless and dejected, the guilt, the anger, and the unfairness of it all trigger something in her, until one day, she decides to pack her bags and leave her good-for-nothing family. She soon finds a way to sustain herself in the form of nannying job.
But all the years of hardships and constant bickering have changed her forever. For she gives in to her dark side and exacts an evil price from the very child whose custody she was given. As she goes on committing the dastardly crimes against innocent little children, police are alerted about the presence of a Nanny killer; one who will stop at nothing to exact her revenge on humanity.
The authorities will have to move soon before it’s too late, for the Nanny killer is ready to strike again.
Who will be the next target of the Nanny killer?
Will the police finally find the diabolical woman?
Or will the Nanny killer get to her latest victim before the authorities do?
I have been reading the author’s books for a long time, and I have to say this. His writing has come a long way since I first started reading his books.
The book showcases not just poverty but also the unfair burden on women. It portrays the injustices done to women, showing us the wrongs that are done to them in the name of patriarchy and unabashed sexism.
Though the book has plenty of drama, it would be wrong to call it a mystery. In the beginning, one gets to know everything that there is to know about the plotline with no suspense, or thrill, added in later chapters.
This prevents it from being a successful mystery as the reader doesn’t get that overwhelming sense of dread and foreboding which makes for a good suspenseful read.
In Lulla Bai, there is a much-needed emphasis on character development. These aren’t just cardboard characters, but people with histories, emotions, flaws, and their own dynamics. In Shanta Bai, we see a complex character who undergoes a drastic transformation. Her soft soul turns into a dark evil one when society deprives her of the smallest of joys. Professor Zen’s character is also something. We saw him in the last book, and here again, he makes a noticeable appearance.
What did I not like?
Even though Anuj’s writing has improved a lot, there is still a lot to be learned when it comes to effective storytelling. The narrative follows a linear path with no layers, no twists, and no suspense to add to the entertainment quotient. There is also a visible disconnect that can be seen between different chapters as if they are individual silos and not an ongoing story.
What could have been better?
The editing takes away major points. There are way too many mistakes in the editing to be ignored by a regular reader. This reduces the reading pleasure to a large extent.
In the end
In the end, Lulla Bai is a short crime drama that narrates the story of Shanta Bai, a woman who spells doom for the young children entrusted in her care. The book is short, and dramatic, but lacks mystery, entertainment, and good editing.
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