Book Review: Murder in the Palace and Other Stories by Priya Bajpai
The title story of Murder in the Palace and Other Stories by Priya Bajpai has a big cast of characters, so it’s difficult to keep them straight without distinguishing marks. Formatting direct speech would have been good. Priya has good style- there are little details like a supposedly grief stricken husband giving away by his body language that he might not be so sad after all. Read on for the full book review.
Here’s a great line- ‘the case screams when it’s fresh, and the sound weakens or gets lost in the noise with every passing day.’ Characters are sketched well as the story progresses. The best friend, the ex-husband, the lover. Who to believe? What’s a clue? Detective Anna is a strong character who doesn’t scare easy. I didn’t guess who the murderer was but the solution was complex enough to keep me guessing.
The second story, ‘Banon’s Conundrum,’ is a whimsical one. Shorter paragraphs would have made it easier to read on the screen. An interior monologue, it appealed to the feminist in me. In the science fiction genre, it was a deft switch from the genre of the first story. It could have been longer though.
The third story, ‘An Archaic World,’ is in another genre- historical fiction- again testifying to the writer’s versatility. The character is sketched well, and is again a strong woman character. However, more action would have been satisfying.
The fourth story, ‘Blueprint,’ is deliciously ironical, and the doctor is an interesting character. The Fibonacci number itself practically becomes a character.
The fifth story, ‘Dazzled,’ is nuanced. I don’t want to give too much away. Just want to say it was not what I was expecting. Again, I’d like to know what happened next.
The story about Kira the Geisha is poignant although I found it a bit unrealistic. The geisha’s life comes across well.
‘Horrific Holocaust’ brings home the reality of war in a very personal manner.
‘I’m II’ is a cold blooded story, chillingly delivered, all the more so because of the narrator’s dispassionate manner.
‘The Mysterious Globe’ has a Jumanji feel and leaves you wanting more.
‘Killer’ has an unexpected twist to it- one of my favorites in this collection.
‘Mia of Maya’ is also good. I like historical fiction, so I enjoyed reading this, which has a twist in the tail, in time honored short story fashion.