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A Nice Quiet Holiday

A Nice Quiet Holiday

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Author : Aditya Sudarshan

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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.

Only days after he arrives, the tranquil hill-town is transformed into a seething hotbed of hostility. The cause is a controversial report on AIDS authored by the Mittals, fellow guests at the house of Shikhar Pant. Small town morality wrestles big city urbanity as the people of Bhairavgarh protest against the report's alleged obscenity. But within the house too, loyalties are divided. Matters come to a head when Pant's cousin — a famous writer and supporter of the Mittals — is discovered stabbed to death. But with the police chasing all the wrong leads it's up to the Judge to track down the murderer. Soon Anant finds himself legal counsel for the Mittals and an assistant sleuth to the Judge. His nice quiet holiday is going to be anything but.

A brilliant literary thriller from a debut author, A Nice Quiet Holiday is a thoughtful, pacy, unputdownable read!

Book Details
Paperback: 224 pages
Subjects: author of indian origin, mystery & suspense, thriller
ISBN: 9788189975999
Publisher: Westland Limited

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Book reviews: 'A Nice Quiet Holiday'
TEXT_OF_5_STARS  Delightful, Tuesday 26 January, 2010
by Arti Jain
Call me ageist but I have, over the last year or so, developed a kind of allergy to English first novels by Indians of a certain age. Give me a campus novel and I break into rashes. Send me a book in which characters speak in SMS language or live to get wasted, and I am likely to get feverish. So when someone suggested I read the “first novel by a young author”, I tried to avoid it like the flu. Then followed a couple of other mentions, by people whose reading tastes I trust, and I succumbed.

I am glad I did. I still don’t know how “young” Aditya Sudarshan is. He looks fairly young but also is a lawyer. There is little information about him on the internet, which is a good thing because a cynic like me is forced to look towards the work itself for evidence of worth.

Unlike more recent mystery writing where you stumble upon the gruesome corpse by page three, the pace of the set up in this novel is reminiscent of the classics of the past. The book starts off slowly, building piece-by-piece, character-by-character the setting for the murder that you know will take place soon. The atmosphere itself comes rolling in like the rain on the mountains. Away from the hustle and bustle of the city, the lead characters (a pair: Holmes and Watson, Poirot and Hastings) arrive at idyllic Bhairavgarh for, well, “A Nice Quiet Holiday” but because we picked a “mystery”, we know that it will be anything but that. Despite the predictability of the mystery milestones it is the manner in which the journey is taken that keeps the reader glued. The plot follows the conventions - the double murder, the red herring, the lack of motive, even a bit of a romance thrown in- yet the strongest point of the novel are the two main characters. Judge Shinde, an armchair detective who uses wisdom, humour and perception as his tools and his law clerk, Anant who is a bit of a bumbling, sometimes deferential, sometimes diffident ,young man, who gathers information for him. So while Anant produces, the Judge deduces. It is their relationship that truly sets this novel apart from others in its genre and vintage. The affection and mutual respect is subtle and understated between the boss and his protégé.

Being a lawyer has definite linguistic advantages. Aditya Sudarshan has a grasp on the English language as well as “legalese” and he flows seamlessly from one into the other, never missing a beat. He clearly enjoys the language, not in gulps but in deliberate sips. It is this, the fact that he has a grasp on both form and character, that makes me wish he had elucidated the other players a little better. We meet them but don’t really see them in much detail. They are described in haste and their disposition repeated at leisure in other places. That still remains to me a minor point, but one that when dealt with will make for perfection.

It is a first novel but if I wasn’t already told that I would not know. I do hope to see more from Aditya Sudarshan and definitely more of Judge Shinde and Anant.

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