A good mystery novel should either keep you guessing or spin an engaging narrative with provoking questions even though you already know the end. But in Dead In a Mumbai Minute, there are too many giveaways.
There are parts where the reader is likely to have figured out, using the clues and circumstances, who is behind the mischief. And there will be interminable waiting with mounting frustration for investigator Reema Ray to catch on. She is following the same leads but is too blinded by prejudices, to get the picture. That said, the book is not actually slow-moving, but merely lacking in suspense.
A sequel to The Masala Murder, the novel is set largely in Mumbai though the first body is found in Maaya, a private island belonging to a Bollywood superstar. The site of the murder and the Bollywood connect makes it a high-profile case. And a complicated one too, especially because this is the first murder case that Reema is assigned since she started her stint with Titanium Securities, owned by Shayak Gupta, who also gets implicated. So not only does she have to solve the case but has to deal with the additional distraction of establishing her boss’ innocence. All this within days after she’s moved to a new city. The characters are a little flat and fail to steer away from stereotypes, particularly the B-town members.
But the author has used the setting to delve deeper into the Hindi film industry and there are even some references to their real-life counterparts, as in the case of the 40-something Adil Khan who has recently starred in a back to college film. The title is a comment on the lacklustre eyes of long-time inhabitants of Mumbai, an indication of the sub-text of the novel -- how fast-paced city life can make one forget the excitement of living. The writing is fairly clean though the dialogues and the narration could have been stronger. But the pace of the novel, introduction of new sub-plots could get one hooked on, making it a quick read. If you’re a fan of mystery, you could give it a try.