When Jax was three, he got the hots for a sweet little girl, Deviyani (also three), and through that love connection I made a terrific new friend, Anu Kumar. Anu is a terrific lady. She’s gentle, loving and sweet, as well as a woman of incredible intelligence and curiosity. As we started getting to know each other, it turned out my humble friend is also very successful Indian writer, with a strong following on the Indian subcontinent and beyond.
Since we met, Anu had her head down creating an adult murder-mystery – “It Takes a Murder” – which was published late last year. I had the privilege of attending her book launch in Singapore recently, where I was able to finally get my hands on the new book. I am not a murder-mystery kind of gal, it’s just never been my genre, but I absolutely LOVED this book – and not just because it was written by my friend.
Anu is one of those rare talents who writes with the most delicate words, and she has an amazing gift for describing a scene in a way that takes you right into the moment. India remains my favorite country, and for me, Anu was able to capture and explain so much of what I saw when I was there, even down to the point I could smell what she was describing – not always a positive when it comes to India J.
Brooks Town came alive for me through Anu’s words, as did the rich array of curious characters the story is wrapped around, especially the main character Charlotte – who I still don’t quite understand but that’s OK. I read an interview that Anu was inspired to write this story after observing many solitary women, and it always left her wondering what their story is. I often wonder what a complete stranger’s story might be, so I loved what she created out of her inspiration behind this book.
The cast of characters is complex and deep. Charlotte, the main character is a fascinating woman, who you get to know throughout the book, but her story is never done – which is intriguing. I was curious about her strained relationship with her daughter, Maddy, and wondered about the heritage of that inability to truly connect with her. I am looking forward to understanding that in the next book – because I presume (and hope) there will be one. Then there was the absent husband – maybe dead, maybe not – who I think was British but I was never 100 percent sure, and the other star of the book – Gautam Dogra.
Dogra could be from any country – a middle-aged man, protective of his daughter’s virtue, who became embittered by the experiences and failures of his life. He’s hateful and hurtful towards everyone, including himself, and Charlotte’s attraction to him says as much about her and it does about him – but you don’t really get that at the start. Another star is Dogra’s daughter Asha, wow what a character, however definitely not someone I could ever spend too much time with.
For me, this book is more than a murder-mystery, it’s more than a love story, and it’s more than the rich and intriguing characters Anu explores. It’s a journey into the last 50 years of Indian history and what it means to the people of this country. We can try to understand this time from reading history books, but Anu opens our eyes to what it actually meant to the people directly impacted by these events – including the love of a nation towards Indira Gandhi and the attitude towards Sikh’s when Gandhi was murdered by her Sikh body guards. I found the historical insight fascinating.
There is so much I loved about this book. It appealed to me on so many levels. I feel I understand India just a little bit more after reading it. It’s an amazing journey into life for a small hill station town, with deep English imperial roots, and while it appears not much is going on, there is – in fact – so much going on.
Bravo my friend. What a talent you are. I hope someone buys the rights to this, because it would make a spectacular movie.
Buy it if you can and support a great talent. You’ll be delighted you did.
Yours, without the bollocks