PLOT: 4/5 CHARACTERS: 3.5/5 CLIMAX: 4/5 WRITING STYLE: 3.5/5 ENTERTAINMENT QUOTIENT: 4/5
From the author of Prema Naada Pandita comes this double murder mystery novel, which is the first part in the Dark Death Nirvana series by SB Akshobhya. This tantalizing thriller is bound to send chills down the spine of even the most avid readers and thus can be called a truly engrossing, eye-popping, and jaw-dropping crime thriller.
At 210 pages, the novel is moderately lengthy though fast-paced, but not jumpy in the action and the thrill that the action imbibes. The book cover exudes the darkness that the plot is filled with and shows a mysterious figure who seems to be carrying a knife in one hand and a trash bag in another. The effect of a broken glass pane through which the reader can see this mysterious person adds to the thrill and terror in the mind of the reader who is beyond perplexed at the title of the book.
Despite featuring a double murder mystery, the book is called half death and that raises a lot of questions in the mind of the reader and also serves as yet another reason to pick this book.
The plot revolves around the sudden discovery of the murder of BPO employee Ankita whose deeply bruised dead body is found in the flat that comprises the base for four friends Ankita, Aniket, Suganya, and Jayesh. Ankita and Aniket are siblings from a humble background who have moved to a big city in hopes of making a better living. Aniket is 6 years older than Ankita and Suganya is his girlfriend. Jayesh is Ankita’s fiancé and her murder takes place a day before their engagement.
Aniket was away for an interview in Gurugram when Ankita is found dead. However, the twist in the plot arises when Aniket never returns back and goes missing. Not just that, but Aniket remains untraceable and unreachable which adds to the mystery element of the plot.
The multiple climaxes deliver a blow upon blow to the characters Jayesh and Suganya as well as to the readers. It is hard to accept and believe the extent of harshness and inhumane behaviour that is showcased by the murderer. These act as twists in the plot. They flip the ideas of the reader about murder mystery novels as there is ample element of shock in this novel but it helps to sustain the unpredictability of the plot.
Meanwhile, investigations and post-mortem of Ankita’s case point towards a planned murder using acid and other sharp instruments. It is clear that the murderer had the intention to cause harm. Yet, what remains difficult to digest is the unfathomable pieces of evidence that put Aniket as a suspect in his sister’s murder as several accusations get levied upon him. While it remains hard to determine where exactly Aniket is located, investigations determine more secrets, particularly rising from the closet in the flat at Stuti Sai Apartments.
The loose ends eventually get tied up and there is a seamless flow in events of the plot that keeps up the attention of the reader.
In The Half Death, the writing style is easy to follow, error-free, and free-flowing with moderately difficult vocabulary to bring out the nuances of the plot. The story is told from the first-person narrator’s perspective. Suganya is the one who narrates the entire plot. There is constant shifting between the present and the past as Suganya notes the manner in which Ankita was interviewed for the BPO and landed the job as opposed to her present state of being gruesomely killed.
The narrative keeps up the pace of the thriller and does not go in any roundabout manner or beat around the bush to establish the incidents. It is through the dialogue exchanges that the plot progresses and gives readers an idea about what may come next.
Yet, the writing style does not in any way act revelatory. It lets out facts but does not disclose the direction in which the plot is about to progress which maintains the suspense of the plot.
Another interesting aspect of the writing style remains the few lines of poetry attempted by the author at the end of every other chapter that sums up the situation at hand and adds to the emotional aspect of an otherwise sorrowful and heart-wrenching story.
On the whole, the book is an entertaining though scary read and one that is going to raise a lot of questions in the mind of the reader regarding the truth of human relations and the unpredictability of life. Highly recommended to lovers of mystery, crime, and thrillers.
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