PLOT: 5/5 CHARACTERS: 4.5/5 WRITING STYLE: 4.5/5 CLIMAX: 5/5 ENTERTAINMENT QUOTIENT: 4.5/5
“One such legend is the tale of the man who’d cheated death and was a manifestation of the doom itself.”– Sayan Sahoo, The Amateur Detectives (The Crime Lord Book 1)
A spine-chilling and blood-curdling thriller filled with an eerie atmosphere that irradiates suspense amidst innumerable plot twists that is bound to keep readers on the edge of their seats. The haunting book cover with silhouettes of a man, a dog, and a woman, etched with blood splattered across, is symbolic of all that is to follow, and all that is yet to be discovered in this thrilling adventurous tale.
This is the first part in a series and the book is divided into 3 main headings, under which there are nearly 10 -11 chapters, and extends over nearly 446 pages making for an engaging read. Unique, one of its kind, and deeply stirring, the story opens with a description which is sort of a poem about the unknown figure who is claimed to be immortal and comes out of his hibernation once in a while to strike at random people.
‘Marked by the shadow’s cry’ is a line that mesmerizes and raises curiosity at the same time. Who is this scary figure and why does he engage in such horrendous crimes against humanity?
The plot is a collection of mysteries that the two detectives Neel Roy and Dipti Dutta solve, with Neel’s bulldog Jimmy by their side in all these adventures. They are both called amateur detectives as they do not have any training in being professional detectives but have the mettle and innate understanding of what it takes to be detectives.
The mystery revolves around the rise and return of a figure who is known as the Crime Lord who also has many followers, allies, and aides. Rising to fame from solving small criminal cases, Neel gets a call to take up the case of the Murder of the Millionaire, far from the quaint spaces of Bengal to the dark underbelly of Mumbai. This is followed by another mystery called Project Jerry.
The Amateur Detectives looks at the adventures, risks, and duties that these detectives fulfil in an eclectic mix of scary and exciting situations. It is as much a task as an opportunity to prove their worth. Being able to solve the mystery of the Crime Lord will help them build their reputation.
This is what drives them to undertake the challenges, relocate, go on field inspections, and strengthen their pieces of evidence.
The simple conversations that are interspersed with the third-person narrative of the plot slow down the otherwise moderate and mixed pace of the novel. At times the pace pulsates especially during a major climax scene, then takes a moderate pace for the conversation scenes, and again rises and soars quickly as per the need of the plot. This mix is entertaining and invigorating. It leaves readers hooked at all times.
The writing also has a mix of subtle humour and charming chemistry that runs between Neel and Dipti. This chemistry has a lot to do with the mutual respect and intellectual attraction that they feel for one another. This makes them dependent on each other as they share different sets of experiences and qualities that combine together to help solve the mysteries.
There is the bond of friendship, the joy of solving mysteries, the vigour of risk-taking, and the courage to face challenges, and meet deadlines. Despite the numerous emotions that run through the plot, the mysteries are solved logically and systematically. The manner in which the mysteries are solved can be equated with the steadfastness of Byomkesh Bakshi or the intense fact-finding engaged in by Sherlock Holmes.
Yet, the book is not either of these but has a freshness that makes for an engaging reading experience.
The mysterious tales and case solving activities aside, the book frankly discusses certain issues that deal with the backgrounds of the two amateur detectives. The issue of taking up a non-conventional career choice of being a detective, and building a detective firm is dealt with, while Sahoo mentions the taunts and constant questioning that Neel has to go through.
The effect that this has on Neel and the pressure that he feels to prove his choice of career is an underlying theme in the book. Yet, the manner in which Neel deals with this challenge is what makes the character so inspiring.
Dipti is not to be mistaken as a sidekick because she has been given equal space as her background in martial arts is highlighted to develop her personality further. She is bold, brave, and smart. Her help and capability make for Neel’s support system. Together they become invincible.
The plot of The Amateur Detectives is scattered with many other characters, some who only find passing mention while others may be allotted a small scene. Altogether, these characters help to build Neel and Dipti’s characters and give the reader a better understanding of the duo, their bond, and their work ethics.
The language is easy to follow. There is the use of apt vocabulary followed by descriptive passages and evocative detailing. The eye for detail that Sahoo has is commendable. The right adjectives make for apt descriptions. The editor of this book Devansh Desai has done a commendable job which makes the writing style easy to follow. The writing style is free-flowing and one that does not need too much circumlocution or exaggeration.
The narrative follows through the text in a structured manner, it glides over certain aspects that hold the suspense together, but when the detailed descriptions begin, they flow like a stream waiting to meet the river.
Needless to state, it makes for a captivating read, one that mesmerizes, intensifies the suspense, and gives readers the feeling that they have deciphered the mysteries, but never lets the bubble burst.
The twists and turns make for some shocking revelations. This does not stretch the narrative too far. On the contrary, it makes readers ask for more because of the manner in which the suspense is held up. This gripping writing style creates the atmosphere of the plot that is charged with emotions of horror, terror, and fear. Though nail-biting, the book is unputdownable. This book is clearly meant to be devoured by the paragraph.
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