Book Review: The Secret Angels by Smita Bhattacharya

About the Book:

♥ A slow-burn atmospheric literary mystery. With armchair travel, intriguing characters, small-town noir, and a troubled heroine. For lovers of Tana French, Veronica Mars, and Sue Grafton. ♥

Darya was meant to be in Mumbai for two months. No more.
It was going to be an ordinary study break. Just that.
Except things didn’t go according to plan.

The year before, Darya accidentally solved the mystery of her uncle’s untimely death in Goa. A year later, she finds herself embroiled in another bizarre mystery: this time at Mumbai’s quirky Chapel Road.

Darya had thought Chapel Road in Bandra was a quaint little lane when she’d decided to rent there. But she soon realizes a tragic mystery is lurking behind its peculiar charm. Three women have disappeared in the past three years, purportedly murdered by a serial killer. No dead bodies have been found and he has never been caught. And now it’s that time of year again. Who will be next?

At first, Darya is only concerned about her creepy landlords, her reticent neighbours, and her temperamental roommate and best friend, Veda. But when one of the missing girls winds up dead in a hotel room, and her roommate, Veda, disappears, Darya is spurred to find out what’s really going on.

But what if it was her life, actually, that was most in danger?

**THE SECRET ANGELS is the second book in the Darya Nandkarni Misadventure series, after KISS OF SALT**

About the Author:

Smita Bhattacharya works as a management consultant and lives in Mumbai. Her short stories have appeared in numerous Indian and international publications. Her books rank among the top Asian Literature & Fiction on Amazon. Strong female protagonists and Agatha Christie-style whodunits are her forte. Smita thrives on crime and coffee. Though she prefers cafés, she occasionally also hangs on Twitter and Instagram @smitabe.

My Thoughts:

This is the second book in the Darya Nandkarni Misadventure series and the second book by Smita that I have read. To be honest, I have been reading the books in the reverse order (I read Who Threw Draco Down the Chimney? first), but I have still enjoyed the books so far.

In short, I would describe this book as unputdownable and intriguing!

Now on to a slightly more detailed review… 🙂

The Secret Angels is a slow-burn atmospheric mystery that takes place in Mumbai. Darya and her friend are staying there for two months and get embroiled in the mystery surrounding the street they are staying at. Three girls from the area have mysteriously disappeared over the last few years and nobody know where they are or whether they are alive. However, when one of them turns up dead, warnings flags are raised in Darya’s mind. Something fishy is going on and she feels the urge to find out what it is before someone else gets hurt.

The characters are wonderfully detailed and well thought-out. Darya has so many layers to her personality that make her immediately likeable and interesting. Veda, her best friend, is a contrast in personality is a welcome addition in portraying the subtle differences in the characters. I also enjoyed reading about the landlords of the villa at which Darya was staying.

Smita has a way with words that draws you in and keeps you reading until the very end. This is a fascinating story filled with the right amount of mystique to keep the reader hooked. As the plot thickens and the story unravels, we discover so many unexpected twists! I whole heartedly recommend this series by Smita (even though I am yet to read the first book in the series, which is now on my TBR and in keeping with my reverse read system for these books 😛 ) for all the mystery lovers out there!

Book Review: Hinterland by L.M. Brown

I was provided with a free copy of the book by the author in exchange for an honest review.

About the Book:

Hinterland

 

Nicholas Giovanni’s life revolves around his five-year old daughter Kate. When he isn’t driving his taxi, he is taking care of her and her mother Kathleen, whose last involuntary admission to hospital was before Kate was born. When his childhood best friend, Ina, returns next door, tensions rise in the house. Already unstable, Kathleen suspicions of Ina and Nicholas grow until a day of violence ensues and Kathleen disappears.

Kate’s life is shattered by her mother’s disappearance. No-one will tell her where Kathleen is. Although Ina helps to take care of Kate, Nicholas keeps her at arm’s length. He cannot bring himself to tell the truth about Kathleen’s last day, until Kate runs away, and he realizes his silence has torn everyone apart. To find Kate and to keep Ina in his life, there are truths he must face, if it’s not too late.

My Thoughts:

Hinterland is a story of one family’s experience with mental illness as well as the choices they make and the subsequent consequences. The main protagonist Nicholas is a devoted father to his daughter Kate and takes care of her mother Kathleen. Initially we are introduced to these three characters and their neighbor, an elder woman named Tilly. She has known Nicholas since his youth. Nicholas has a strained relationship with Kathleen and we can see how that indirectly affects Kate, a five year old child at the time the story begins. We also follow along as Nicholas maneuvers his job as a taxi driver and taking care of his daughter, shielding her from anything bad as only a loving parent can do.

As the story progress, we are introduced to Ina, Tilly’s daughter and someone Nicholas has always had feelings for. With her arrival, things are set in motion as tempers run high, jealousy creeps in, doubts arise. This leads to one incident that changes all their lives. The author’s style of writing is unique and something I have not come upon very often. She leaves a lot unsaid and gives space for the reader to read between the lines and come up with their own interpretation. It’s an interesting way of handling the plot.

The characters are intriguing and I enjoyed reading about them. However, Nicholas was quite confusing and at times I did not like him. In addition, we observe as Kate grows up from a shy five year old to a rebellious teenager who does not know the truth about her mother or why she just disappears one day never to be seen again. This forms the crux of the plot leading to strained relationships and the family’s struggle to deal with the absence of Kathleen but the constant reminder that she exists/existed. I enjoyed reading about Ina and the support she provides in a quiet manner.

Though the story is slow in the first half, it picks up pace in the second half leading to an interesting open ended finish. This gives the reader space to imagine the kind of ending they want for the characters. The author has handled the concept of mental illness very well, bringing about an awareness among the readers of it’s effects on the person dealing with it as well as the effect on the people around. Even though I do have some mixed feelings about this book, I did enjoy reading it. It was a roller-coaster of emotions and finally, the truth always comes out! This book is well worth the read!