The Last Laugh | Shardul Karve | Book Review

The Last Laugh

PLOT: 3/5
WRITING STYLE: 2.5/5         

My Musings

I am not a hard-core thriller fan but I do enjoy my share of crime fictions and murder mysteries. Now, the above statement may feel like a contradictory one but that’s because I don’t have a favourite genre. I devour and genuinely enjoy a vast variety of genres and “mystery & thriller” happens to be one of the genres that I prefer reading.

Last month it so happened that I read a lot of thrillers – Sniper’s Eye, The Girl in Room 105, I Wish I Had Not Married My Love and The Best Couple Ever. This month, however, things have been a bit slow for me. I haven’t read many books and amongst the ones that I have read, The Last Laugh by Shardul Karve is my first crime thriller. Read on to know my thoughts about this book.

What to expect?

The Last Laugh is a crime thriller which promises a decent dose of suspense, thrill and mystery. The book isn’t an ideal read for people who read a lot of crime thrillers but it might prove to be a good read for those who are just getting started on reading English novels.

Let’s talk about the storyline

Doug is in love with Monica but hasn’t yet found a way to confess his feelings. He loves challenges and during one of their friendly fights ends up challenging Monica in a way that will change the course of their lives forever.

What starts as an amusing dare turns into something sinister when Doug and his friends realise that there are others out there who are following each and every move that they make.

Richard Nolan is the richest man in America and, as can be expected about anyone with such name and fame, he also has his own share of enemies. So, when Doug fake-kidnaps Monica for a ransom of 100 million dollars, there are others out there who are looking for an opportunity to turn this fake kidnapping into a real one.

In this tantalizing tale of love and betrayal, whatever that can go wrong will go wrong and before they realise Doug and his friends will be too deep in the mess that they created.

How good were the characters?

In The Last Laugh, you will find a good number of characters but the overwhelming number of characters does not mask away the fact that most of them are superficial and unimpressive.

Since the book is a short read (just over 140 pages), I understand that it must have been difficult to dedicate pages to a lot of characters. A few characters, however, could and should have been developed well.

Further, some of the characters and their actions were too impractical and unbelievable. There were many times when their actions seemed forced. The sheer disregard which the author has shown for subtleties and rationality is what drove the characters away from me.

What about the author’s writing style?

There was a time when I used to wonder why Indian authors resort to writing about foreign characters and set their books on foreign soil. Now, since the trend has taken a U-turn for good, I actually enjoyed the setting of this book which is entirely set on American soil and tells us the story of American characters.

The novelty having been acknowledged, now the time comes for some critical analysis. I liked the way the author has created a massive plot with a good number of characters and sub-plots. However, the bond which binds it all together in a cohesive manner is quite weak.

The main reason why the plot fails to shine is that it isn’t complemented by an exciting climax. Had a little more thought gone into planning the climax and in making it unpredictable, the author would have achieved what every thriller writer intends to achieve – to write a page-turner read.

The narration style is also average and doesn’t give the reader much satisfaction. The writing lacks polish and seems amateurish and abrupt. Overall, the writing leaves much to be desired.

Was the climax any good?

Unfortunately, The Last Laugh has a climax that is too predictable. It is conceived well but it lacks complexity, surprises and twists. It is just too easy to guess and that doesn’t really score well for a climax.

What I particularly liked

The most fascinating aspect of this book is its unique setting especially when it comes to the remote forests, the abandoned towns and motels.

There is an air of creepiness and intrigue that envelopes the reader. It reminds one of the deep dark fairy tales which promise both horror and adventure.

What I utterly disliked?

One thing that I find hard to ignore is the poor editing and botchy writing. As a reader, I may come around the fact that a book isn’t entertaining but unpolished writing is something that takes away the reading pleasure from the very beginning.

Reading a poorly written book feels like a compromise and needless to state compromises don’t win a book brownie points.

It all boils down to the entertainment quotient

In the end, the book maintains a steady pace, is an easy read and tells us a decent story. It doesn’t lack in entertainment but at the same time is not full of it. It is a mixed bag with a generous amount of both pros and cons working for and against it.

Skip the book

  • If you don’t enjoy sloppy writing.
  • If you are a regular crime thriller/ murder mystery reader.
  • If you don’t enjoy mysteries with a predictable climax.

Pick up the book

  • If you are a beginner and only getting started on English novels.
  • If you enjoy crime thrillers/murder mysteries but don’t read a lot of them.
  • If you are looking for a short read (less than 150 pages).

Can’t wait to read it? Buy your copy of The Last Laugh using the link below.


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