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Kiran Manral’s Kitty Party Murder is a book filled with humour, mystery and all this in the middle of kitty parties!
The kitty party culture, when it started in the 1950s, was a way for women to create a network of friends and build a financial support system. Over time it evolved to serve multiple purposes depending on the age and needs of the members involved. The most favoured, though, still remains connecting once a month, letting your hair down and indulging in activities of common interest.
But what if something, or someone, threatens to break this joyous bubble? Something as sinister as murder, perhaps?
Kiran Manral’s latest offering – The Kitty Party Murder – drops a chilling murder mystery smack dab in the middle of a women’s kitty group. And prompts some old-fashioned spy-craft to aid the detective’s investigation.
Kanan Mehra, a.k.a. Kay, is bored to the gills with mommy-hood, when her detective friend, Runa, asks her to help in a suicide investigation. Kay must infiltrate a ladies’ kitty group and try to unearth their deepest, darkest secrets.
Since this includes all-you-can-eat buffet lunches at a new restaurant every month, and the chance to show off newly acquired diamonds, Kay agrees. But it is much to the annoyance of her spouse, who disapproves of both kitty parties and snooping around.
As Kay and Runa try to get to the truth behind the suicide, the building complex is shaken by another mysterious death. The answers they seek lie buried under fancy meals, designer dresses and serious bling – but will Kay risk everything to get to them?
Malicious gossip is the least dangerous thing about this kitty group – and the party’s just getting started.
While I am familiar with Kiran Manral, the author, this was my first time reading any of her books. I didn’t get into it with a lot of expectation but I was excited nonetheless.
Kay is a stay-at-home mom to a six-year-old she must continuously debate with over the benefits (or lack thereof) of junk food. Unfortunately, she tends to find herself on the losing side. And often gives in to not just her son’s demands, but those of her own taste buds as well. Seeing how Kay’s attention span for constructive activities is fast diminishing, her husband encourages her to return to work.
The book starts with a generous serving of humour and maintains the flavour throughout the course of the story. Be it her interaction with her hyperactive son, her relatively quiet husband, or the domestic help. Despite what one would think, Kay’s days are packed with enough action without the need to seek it out. And yet, unbeknownst to Kay, her Spidey-sense is already latching on to the next great drama.
I experienced a slow start with the book which, while incredibly funny, seemed to be teeming with metaphors. As a literary device, I have nothing against them but felt they were overused. Then, past the one-third mark, maybe their use diminished, or it didn’t bother me enough to notice.
Kay is the mom-next-door, with a penchant for finding trouble in the most unexpected places. When Runa reaches out to Kay for help on the case, Kay sees it as a potential career opportunity that might elevate her in the eyes of her husband.
After all, how hard could it be to infiltrate a kitty group and coax information out of people naturally inclined to gossip, while feasting on scrumptious food? However, when said people are hiding a secret, the task at hand may prove a tad difficult. And Kay is nothing if not persistent which makes her an absolutely delightful character to follow.
Runa is a shrewd professional who bothers little with anything that doesn’t impact her work. She is constantly pushing Kay to find the answers that could break open the case. The two women have a long history as described by Kay and it makes for some interesting reading to see it play.
I imagined this to be a comedy about a bored mom in search of some drama in her apartment building to spice up her mundane life. Where the book truly surprises you is that it is not only a murder mystery but a real thriller with nail-biting moments and edge-of-the-seat suspense. While the clues get more perplexing, the bodies keep dropping, and when people start to disappear overnight, it becomes evident that time is running out.
Hilarious and riveting, The Kitty Party Murder seamlessly blends two distinct genres into one intense novel. With so much variety, it is guaranteed to capture everyone’s interest.
You’re effectively getting two books for the price of one. I say grab it with both hands and get ready for an adventure that will send your idea of ‘routine’ up in smoke.
You can buy your copy of the book right here on Amazon India and here on Amazon US.
Picture credits: Still from Bollywood movie Angry Indian Goddesses
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Ashima has been in love with the written word for as long as she can
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