Honest to God, the brightly designed cover lured me into reading this hardcover, which holds an equally insane story made richer with an atypical backdrop and unconventional narrative. A hypothetical and absurd fiction, ‘Murder With Bengali Characteristics‘ is an independant sequel to The Competent Authority, and has a futuristic setting of 2035 where Bengal is no longer a part of main India, but a part of China with Kolkata still its capital city. In the first chapter we are introduced to our protagonist Inspector Li, assisted by his men Sexy Chen and Big Chen and a corrupt cop Phoni-babu, is investigating a murder, and soon Li zones in The New Thug Society, an organisation committed to free Bengal, as the party responsible for the murder. Is Li on the right track of investigation?
In the following chapters we’re taken through a dirty world of business, politics and power, where ploy and treachery are common practices. The plot is unlike anything I’ve ever read, and relies too much on wisecracks to take the narrative forward. The semi-cooked story is over-garnished with jokes, but that doesn’t take away the novelty of the story. Even though I had no connect with the plot, I enjoyed it thanks to the colorful characters, their clever dialogue, some brilliant wordplay and several laugh-worthy quips – all these making up for one hell of a satire. But yes, a well-strung plot would’ve made it a lot easier to finish off this book in one sitting, given how short it is.
This is a book realized in its details. It’s evident that the author has made good use of the specifics in news of other parts of Asia, and makes sure to stay away from a geopolitical narrative. The book refers to many national and international events, one of them being the latest Li Gang incident in China. There’s even a Maoist gang taking refuge in Junglemahal, and a commentary of a cricket practice session that shall leave you in splits. The author’s interpretation of technology progressed during the years is beautiful – here machines can think and interact among themselves.
If you’re attempting to read an altogether different genre where twisted logic, politics, sci-fi and wry humour are served with delicious fish-heads, Shovon Chowdhury’s Murder With Bengali Characteristics might just be your read.
Overall Rating : 3.5/5
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