Who killed her father-in-law?
Reviewed by Harbir K Singh

No Flying from Fate
By Saurbh Katyal.
Gyaana Books, Delhi. Pages 328. Rs 295.

The story begins with a telephone call to a private detective, Vishal Bajaj, informing him about the murder of Anil. The call is from his old flame, Aditi. He recognises her voice even after three years of no contact. The call fills him with nostalgia as his mind goes back to their college days and the time spent together. He notes down her address and promises to reach the farmhouse at the earliest. There he meets Aditi and other family members. Vishal finds Aditi even more beautiful and alluring. She tells him about the party organised to celebrate the 60th birthday of Paras Kapoor, her father-in-law. The deceased was one of his three sons.

Almost simultaneously, the police team arrives led by Inspector Babu. After expressing their condolences, Vishal and the Inspector are taken to examine the corpse. To reach the place, they have to pass through the kitchen, the door of which opens into a lush green garden. The garden is extended to an artificial beach in centre and beyond that a pool touches the 20-foot-high compound wall. Lights are hanging between two trees to illuminate the garden and the beach. Between the garden and the pool, there are four palm trees that support a hammock. Anilís body is lying on it on his stomach with his back facing them. A wallet protruded from the rear pocket of his trousers. He was still wearing a gold chain and a Rolex diamond-studded watch which had stopped at 3.30.

They could see the black handle of the knife which had plunged into his heart. There were only two ways by which someone could have entered to reach the hammock. The murderer could either come from the kitchen of the bungalow or walk to the pool from the rear portion of property, if there was any opening or a gate. While examining the corpse, Vishal could see that Anil was stabbed only once aimed at his heart. The attacker had been swift and steady. Sunil, husband of Aditi, informs him that Ram, the servant, had found the lock of the back gate broken. Maybe some villager is behind the crime whose intent could be stealing. After looking at all the places and collecting clues, Vishal said someone from the family might have committed the crime.

From here, Saurbh Katyal sets the stage. Twists and turns in this murder mystery start and as the story unfolds, all family members come under suspicion one by one. The first suspect is Ram, the servant, who was first to discover the corpse of Anil.

Vishal sets to solve this mystery with his helper Pranay and Inspector Babu. Between him and the Inspector, there is an unwritten understanding that he will remain in lime light. Babu also authorises him to give statements to the media.

There is love, lust, deceit, and suspense in the book. Instances of physical relations outside marriage and party where they exchange different partners are very explicit. Crime-solving tales are skilfully written to hold the attention of the reader and Saurbh Katyal has been successful in not revealing identity of the murderer till the end and keeping readerís curiosity alive.