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Monday, Oct 25, 2021
Outlook.com

Plain Jane Tale

The plot is tedious, the dialogue gauche, the characters unconvincing

Plain Jane Tale
Plain Jane Tale
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53
The real mystery concerning this crime fiction first novel is, how did it get shortlisted for the Man-Asian Literary Prize 2007? The plot is tedious, the dialogue gauche, the characters unconvincing.

Forty-year-old Nikhil Juneja, a playboy-wannabe police officer, and his oafish-but-saintly sidekick Joseph must solve a murder in posh South Delhi. The victim, 23-year-old Saudamani, was retarded, unattractive, unmarried and pregnant. Ouch. Her three elder brothers put on a show of brotherly grief but we discover they’re not sincere. How do we know? Because St Joseph interrogates the servants and discovers that chicken was cooked in a house that should have been meatless in mourning.

Some 250 pages of melodrama later we are told that the butler—or rather, Ram Singh the cook—did it. Not just the murder, but the knocking-up too. However, he’s not really guilty because the girl’s father paid him to service the homely girl. Why? Out of paternal concern for a daughter whom "nobody else loves". But when she gets pregnant, the cook...

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