PLOT: 4.5/5 CHARACTERS: 3.5/5 WRITING STYLE: 3.5/5 CLIMAX: 4.5/5 ENTERTAINMENT: 4/5
I am always on the lookout for murder mysteries and detective fiction by Indian authors. In the process of exploring new authors in the genre, I have discovered some gems like Salil Desai, Mukul Dev, Salini Vineeth, Arnab Ray, Aroon Raman, and many more.
I recently had a chance to read a debut thriller by another upcoming author. This is a book that I enjoyed thoroughly, and a book that adds another name to the above-mentioned list – that of Dr. Sohil Makwana.
Read on to know more about my thoughts on Dr. Sohil Makwana’s debut work Murdrum: The Probe Begins. How did I find it, and who would I recommend it to?
What to expect?
Expect an entertaining read. Expect a thriller based on an intriguing mystery, one which revolves around a dangerous serial killer. Expect a gripping thriller that is based on true events. Expect a book that showcases the latest developments in forensic sciences. Expect a mystery with a strong female lead.
Who can read?
The book makes use of a rich language that might not be suitable for readers who are just beginning to read in English. But it will certainly help improve their vocabulary if picked. As for other readers, they can easily pick this one up.
Let’s talk about the storyline
Komal Rathod has spent her entire life dreaming and working towards securing a position at the prestigious CBI. A hardworking and driven individual, she has an eye for detail and has specialized in the forensic sciences.
Upon her entry into the CBI as an intern, she chances upon some long-dead cold cases and uncovers their connection with a serial killer.
This is the same serial killer who killed his latest victim recently, is already on the lookout for his next crime. The murder is brutal and ghastly, but the police still consider it as a singular incident. They are clueless about the existence of a serial killer.
Who is this mysterious serial killer in the hoodie?
Why does the killer target pregnant women?
Why does he mark the victim’s pregnant belly with two dots?
Can forensic science get ahead of a killer who is too good at his job?
When will his sexual sadism finally come to an end?
How good are the characters?
There are many characters in the book, but only a few manage to stand out. There is Komal Rathod. She is smart, intelligent, dedicated, and diligent. The entire plot of the book is riding on her, and she takes the center stage throughout the book. Hers is a character who stays with you for a long time.
Her close friend and confidante Rohan, however, does not make the cut. He is mediocre at best and doesn’t do much to hold the reader’s interest. The reader isn’t invested in his story. Komal almost always manages to overshadow Rohan’s character. Then there are other characters too who could have been a tad more dynamic and intriguing. After all, supporting characters can be interesting too.
Inspector Jadhav, on the other hand, brings in a lot of flavor to the mix. With his anti-hero image and shady character, he manages to balance out the all-goody police force. Not to mention, it adds the much-needed tinge of reality.
Last, but not least, it is the mysterious serial killer in the hoodie who grasps your attention right from the beginning. The author has done a commendable job of concealing the killer’s identity and adding layers of suspense to keep him shrouded in mystery.
There is a well-drawn contrast between the past and present of Komal and the killer. As the reader is acquainted with their childhood memories and traumas, one is introduced to the varying shades of their personalities.
What about the writing style? What did I like?
The book makes use of generous research and does a good job of incorporating all that research into a storyline that is not just gripping but also informative. This sort of research, in addition to providing content for the book, also lends credibility to the characters and their backgrounds. For example, without her thorough knowledge and expertise in forensic knowledge, Komal would only have been half-interesting. Even the hooded killer knows his job too well, and that adds a certain authority and enigma to his character.
The storyline of Murdrum: The Probe Begins is gripping, and the many subplots and twists make sure that the reader has enough motivation to keep turning pages after pages. There is something interesting happening after every few pages, and that speaks a lot about the writing. Given that this is the author’s debut book, the writing is bound to improve. Till then, kudos for a great first book!
What could have been better?
At the cost of sounding contradictory, I would like to mention some critical viewpoints.
I do appreciate the kind of length and depth the author has gone into while discovering, uncovering, and explaining new details, new insights into the world of criminology. Murdrum: The Probe Begins is an exceptionally well-researched book, and there is no denying that. There is a pandora box of information to be gained by anyone who decides to pick it up. It especially holds true in the fields of criminology, forensic sciences, and criminal investigations through scientific advancements.
But for a layman like me, the author gets too technical at times. There is too much technical information that neither concerns nor interests the reader. The scientific mumbo-jumbo is also too much to bear. For example, when there is a new technology or process for investigation, the author mentions lengthy and cumbersome details about the technology, the machinery, the equipment, the chemical processes, the chemicals, and the exact quantities that go into the process.
For me, a thriller has to have simple language and should be devoid of unnecessary detailing. Further, there were parts where I wish the language was simpler. A complex language only slows down the pace of the mystery, and that’s what happens in Murdrum: The Probe Begins.
Murdrum: The Probe Begins contains gory and spine-chilling descriptions of violence inflicted on the many victims of the serial killer. If you are put off or triggered by graphic descriptions of macabre scenes, you should probably avoid this one.
How good is the climax?
The climax leaves you with a cliff-hanger. A lot is riding on the last few pages, and just when the reader is expecting to get some answers, the book ends with a promise to resolve the mystery in part 2. The built-up is good. There is tension, atmosphere, a sense of dread and foreboding, and some intra-departmental drama, but in the end, the book leaves one wanting for more. I hope part 2 comes out sooner.
Is the book entertaining?
There is a generous amount of entertainment in the book. With a dynamic plotline, which is infused with equal amounts of mystery, intrigue, and dread, which, in turn, is backed by credible research – there is a lot that the book has to offer to all lovers of crime fiction.
In the end
In the end, Murdrum: The Probe Begins is a gripping forensic thriller about a dangerous psycho sadist serial killer. The book, with its fast pace and many plot twists, makes for an engaging read.
The final verdict
Go for it!
Pick the book if
- You are looking for an entertaining read.
- You enjoy crime fiction.
- You are looking for a fast-paced thriller about a serial killer.
Skip the book if
- You are triggered or put off by graphic descriptions of violence.
Can’t wait to read it? Buy your copy of Murdrum: The Probe Begins using the link below.