Thursday January 24, 2008

The Cosmic Clues

Most of the mass-market paperback mystery fiction shelved in our bookstores was written by American authors. Their characters live in the United States because the authors do. After all, there are a lot of authors in the US.

Of those not set in one of the 50 United States, I'd say a majority of the remainder are set in England. England is unarguably the traditional home of the "cozy mystery".

So The Cosmic Clues comes as a surprise and a treat — both the author, Manjiri Prabhu, and her protagonist, Sonia Samarth, live in Pune, India.

I've never been to India. I've visited the UK as well as parts of Ireland, Germany, Denmark, and Finland. From a reading point of view, I'm most familiar with the contemporary US and Great Britain. I know more about Regency England than I do about modern-day India.

It was fun for me to "visit" Sonia Samarth and her assistance Jatin at the newly opened Stellar Investigations Detective Agency in Pune. Sonia uses keen insights, intuition, and horoscopes, based on Vedic Astrology, to solve crimes.

Sonia is personable and her cases are interesting and varied. The venue is, for me, exotic and interesting. Manjiri Prabhu makes the city of Pune come alive with descriptions of the food and clothing, the street vendors selling coconuts, the traffic, the weather, and Sonia's tastes in music. The book covers half a year, during which Sonia and Jatin celebrate Indian Independence Day and the festival of Diwali. And, of course, I personally like the cat who waltzes into the agency in the first chapter and helps Sonia get her first case!

This isn't a deep or complex book. The tone is light and friendly. Sonia never goes out alone to confront a murderer, risking life and limb for the case.

If you're looking for a gritty, suspenseful, edge-of-your-seat thriller, you won't find it here. What you will find is a cast of friendly, likeable characters in a series of mystery-solving vignettes, taking place somewhere other than the typical US-published locales. Treat yourself to cup of chai and a visit to the Stellar Investigations Detective Agency.

The Cosmic Clues ( in category Books, Movies, Music ) - posted at Thu, 24 Jan, 19:19 Pacific | «e»

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