Kiran Manral scores a bonus with her remarkably well written debut novel “The Reluctant Detective “ – a racy story about Kanan “Kay” , a ditzy overweight shopaholic who maxes out her credit cards , feeds her son fast foods just to stop his tantrums and pokes her nose into two murders when she shouldn’t . In between she lunches , attends dreaded PTA meetings and puts up with a grouch of a husband who treats her like a juvenile and is also haunted by the spirit of the murdered woman .
Kiran’s book is full of spots of wry humour and anecdotes which tickle the funnybone ,the impossible longings for a size zero figure – at one point she considers kneeling down before a whip thin maid and begging her to be her personal trainer . Her obsession with her avoirdupois and her contradictory reluctance to ”eat healthy” make her a very plausible character .
And that is one thing which is a major plus in Kiran’s novel – the rounded three dimensional characters described with such tongue in the cheek humour – from the TV artiste whose carrer is doomed by her role of the suffering daughter in law in television megaserials , the smarmy small time actor in the Velvet Smoking Jacket , the girl gang ,the husband ,the parents viewed through telephone calls and Kay’s memory , even the little boy Kabir , so reminiscent of bratty little boys used to having their own way and Kay , of course . Very plausible , living , breathing characters , who one might meet at any time .
This is possible perhaps , because Kiran draws them from real life people she might know . The wisdom she displays in that she never strays far from the familiar , in terms of people and places , is an appreciable strength and lends deep credibility to her writing .
The style is fluid, amazingly fresh and well written and races through to a quick finish . All in all a good read which makes one wish that it was a thicker novel .But that again is something one would have to wait for and nothing whets hunger more than the anticipation of a hearty meal , or in this case a good thick read ! Waiting for another good read , Ms Manral .