Thursday, October 4, 2012




Title: The Valentine’s Day Clue
Author: Rupali Rajopadhye Rotti
Frog Books (Leadstart) Mumbai India (2012) 
ISBN:  978-93-81836-46-0
Pages: 238
Price: Rs. 195

If you have a look at the Indian Fiction Racks of any Bookstore you will be overwhelmed by the so-called “Campus Romances” written by budding young writers indulging in imaginary flights of fancy.

Now-a-days, with the proliferation of publishers, and the popularity of self-publishing, it is easy for any wannabe author to satisfy his or her creative ambition to become a “published writer”.

Though these novels may satisfy the writer’s (and readers’) unfulfilled and inchoate romantic desires in a vicarious manner, in most cases, the writing lacks authenticity, as one knows that hardly any such “mushy” campus romances actually take place, especially in institutes of learning imparting higher education in engineering and technology in this country where the culture is till quite conservative.

That is why it was a welcome change to see this whodunit – THE VALENTINE’S DAY CLUE – a suspense crime thriller featuring “wannabe detectives” called the NAYAK BROTHERS written by debutante author Rupali Rajopadhye Rotti. It takes courage to deviate from the trodden path and the author must be commended for attempting a crime novel on her debut as a novelist. This is her first crime thriller and it looks like she is planning a series of detective novels featuring the Nayak Brothers.

The setting for this caper is the city of Pune and its surroundings and the main protagonists are a duo of college students, the Nayak Brothers, who are sons of a cop, and their college-mate friends, and of course, the evil villains of the piece. It is an intricate plot full of twists and turns, escapade after escapade, and I will not spoil your fun by revealing the story (for that you must read the book).

From the word go, the story progresses at quite a brisk pace as the wannabe detectives fumble and stumble along in an amateurish manner, bumbling through escapade after escapade, trying to solve the crime and rescue their trapped buddies.

This book could have benefited from some tight professional editing which would have made the suspense more taut and enhanced the Page Turning Quality (PTQ) of the novel. The pictures do not add any value to the narrative and could have been avoided. At times, in her enthusiasm to “explain” everything, the author meanders from plot and this dilutes the “unity of effect” of the story. One example is the detailed description of the Kabaddi Game (with diagrams) which is not really relevant to the “meat” of the intriguing plot.

In case the author is planning a second edition of this book, or a second novel in the Nayak Brothers Series, I wish she employs some ruthlessly taut editing to make her novel more precise and fast paced. Though the present book looks good in appearance and is easy to read, I think an improvement in the get-up and production quality of the book will work well. These two aspects, professional editing and superior production values, will surely enhance the PTQ and readability of the novel.

Detective Fiction is difficult to write and it is to the credit of the debutante author that she manages to pull it off. I am sure she will consolidate on her achievement by writing a follow-up novel featuring the Nayak Brothers and, if she decides to set the story in Pune, I wish she details the setting and atmosphere more elaborately as this will stimulate curiosity in the rich heritage of Pune and will be of particular interest to Punekars.

To sum up – a good first book, a whodunit which is a welcome change from the ubiquitous run-of-the-mill campus romances flooding bookstores – a praiseworthy effort by a debutante author.

Get a copy of THE VALENTINE’S DAY CLUE – it is worth a read.

There is a paucity of good detective fiction in India, so let’s hope the author is planning to focus her creative efforts on the genre of detective and crime fiction. If she does so, I am sure there will be a few more whodunits in the Nayak Brothers Series in the pipeline, each one better than its predecessor. 

Copyright © Vikram Karve 2012
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this book review.
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

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About Vikram Karve

A creative person with a zest for life, Vikram Karve is a retired Naval Officer turned full time writer and blogger. Educated at IIT Delhi, IIT (BHU) Varanasi, The Lawrence School Lovedale and Bishops School Pune, Vikram has published two books: COCKTAIL a collection of fiction short stories about relationships (2011) and APPETITE FOR A STROLL a book of Foodie Adventures (2008) and is currently working on his novel and a book of vignettes and short fiction. An avid blogger, he has written a number of fiction short stories, creative non-fiction articles on a variety of topics including food, travel, philosophy, academics, technology, management, health, pet parenting, teaching stories and self help in magazines and published a large number of professional research papers in journals and edited in-house journals and magazines for many years, before the advent of blogging. Vikram has taught at a University as a Professor for 15 years and now teaches as a visiting faculty and devotes most of his time to creative writing and blogging. Vikram lives in Pune India with his family and muse - his pet dog Sherry with whom he takes long walks thinking creative thoughts.

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