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Posted at: Dec 14, 2014, 12:05 AM; last updated: Dec 12, 2014, 9:15 PM (IST)

A comedy timed well

Vibha Sharma

The Case of the Secretive Sister
by Nilanjan Choudhury.
Niyogi.
Pages 162. Rs 195

Chatterjee is a middle-aged man whose long experience in claims settlement for an insurance company has made him a confident candidate to open his own detective agency. His investigation skills do not get utilised appropriately as the cases that he gets to work on range from lost documents, missing pets or runaway drivers. Not just that, the number of clients requiring his services has been 'as elusive as Dr. Manmohan Singh in a chatty mood'.

One fine day, Chatterjee gets a new client in an over-zealous mother, Pammi Chaddha who does not want to give up after her four-year-old daughter Aisharadhya aka Pinky Chaddha (her 'home' name) has been denied admission in one of the most sought-after schools of Bangalore. She wants Chatterjee to make this daunting task of securing admission for Pinky in the same school possible.

Though Chatterjee does not see any hope of succeeding in this case, he wants to give it a fair try. In order to do that, he would have to confront the no-nonsense Sister D'Souza, who is at the helm of affairs in the school as its headmistress. He devices his plans methodically. What follow is action-packed pages high on cat-and-mouse, stalking, drama, comedy and much more. Well, what is a detective novel without these elements?

The Case of the Secretive Sisters is the second book by the author Nilanjan Choudhury, but he comes across as a seasoned author, especially when it comes to the tautness of the narrative and the finesse in the language. Once the narrative takes a fast-paced turn, at no moment does the tempo slacken.

His choice of characters is commendable, whether it is Chatterjee's secretary Jolly or Inspector Gowda. From the accented tones of characters, one can actually hear their respective 'native' (place) speaking. A true Kannadiga and Bangalorean, Inspector Gowda takes it personally upon himself to sanitise his beloved city of all - Chatterjees, Choudhurys, Chaddhas and Chaturvedis.

When we are witnessing almost a dearth of true-to-genre books in the market, this book comes as a breath of fresh air, where intelligent comedy is served in its full glory. We are fast becoming a society, where we seek maximum value for money, which is exactly the case with books as well. We are being offered medley —comprising various elements all together —comedy, romance, adventure, et al.

The Case of the Secretive Sisters reminds one of the humour of the kind that is penned by Bill Cosby, Bill Bryson and P.G.Wodehouse. It is a pleasant change from the comedies that have inundated the mainstream television and movies these days. If you are looking for a small, light and a hilarious read, don't miss this one.

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