A nice quiet holiday is a book I stumbled across in my boss’ office while interning this summer. I was quite intrigued by the back cover and all that it promised to offer and since I had a short break for lunch and thought I’d read it for a bit, before I got back to work. I did get back to work, but only after I was caught reading the book over an hour later. Turned out my boss understood completely, and instead of showing any signs of annoyance, he gave the book to me and insisted I read it!
Aditya Sudarshan, a graduate from NLSIU wrote this book while still in college. He has practiced criminal litigation in Delhi after graduating, and is now a professional writer. This is his first novel and is complete with all the necessary ingredients that make an exciting murder mystery – set in a family home in the hills with several well-etched characters, exciting court scenes, and a controversial AIDS report that instigates mob violence. A Nice Quiet Holiday is a detective thriller set in a quiet peaceful town, Bhairavgarh, at the foothills of the Himalayas. A page turner, the book keeps you guessing as to who is behind the murder till the very end. And most often you’re guessing completely wrong. I found myself dead sure that every character was acting suspiciously and hence behind the sudden murder till the very end, when Sudarshan unveils the murderer, someone I hadn’t given a second thought to. The book keeps you completely absorbed from start to finish.
The narrator in the book, Anant, is a young law clerk who is both intelligent and passionate. He decides to take a break from the hectic city life in Delhi with his mentor, his boss, Justice Harish Shinde, who is not only a great judge and legal mind but an excellent judge of character and keen observer of human behaviour. They travel together to Bhairavgarh, where they stay with an old friend of Justice Shinde’s. On the way Anant is told stories of the supernatural that leave him feeling slightly unsettled. But these stories, he finds out later are just the beginning of a series of horrifying events, and what turns out to be anything but a nice quiet holiday. Both characters, along with the other characters in the book have been very well developed during the book, through their interactions with each other and their reactions to different situations. All of them are very different, have their own agenda, and yet they come together smoothtly.
Sudarshan writes very well. His style is simple yet pleasing. He manages to piece together sleuthing, court scenes, subtle romance, half a dozen characters, without leaving any strings hanging, holding your attention right through the book. Given that this detective thriller is his debut novel, it is most impressive.
I look forward to reading more about Anant and Justice Shinde, and hope that Sudarshan plans a series, much like Arthur Conan Doyle or Agatha Christie. Less than 250 pages long, the book is crisp, fast paced and exciting, and ideal for a short journey.
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