The Taj Conspiracy is India's answer to Dan Brown's mytho-religious thrillers. Manreet Sodhi Someshwar has created a very intriguing detective - Mehrunnisa Khosa. A beautiful woman of Sikh-Persian descent, she throws up when confronted with a horrendously dirty police station but manages to escape a murderer and solve a historical linguistic puzzle. I tried to imagine who would play the detective in a movie version and came up with Gul Panag. Though, there is a twist in the end that makes the book - to my mind - unfilmable.
Oh - and did I tell you Manreet has written Earning the Laundry Stripes? Which is to FMCG salesmen what towels are to galactic hitchhikers. My review (or rather, ecstatic outpouring) here.
Monsoon Wedding Fever is by classmate from b-school, Shoma Narayanan. She used to be Mukherji then but married a tall, not-dark, handsome Tam Brahm to become Narayanan.
Let me admit this is my first Mills & Boon and I did not know what to expect. For starters, I expected a little more - ahem - sex. (This Fifty Shades of Grey will be the end of the world as we know it.) I also feared there might be a bit too much of the exotic since this book is getting a worldwide release. But I was pleasantly surprised to find romance in a normal, modern, Indian setting. Admittedly, I chuckled a bit at the heroine's 'limpid eyes' and the hero's 'gravelly voice' but a good read nevertheless.
Just Married, Please Excuse is by a colleague, Yashodhara Lal who is Yashodhara Lal Sharma in real life. Before she went on sabbatical, she used to be in the adjacent cubicle and chided me on my jokes. Now, she cracks worse ones.
Not really a novel, JMPE is a thinly (or not at all) veiled account of Yash's life with a total rockstar - Vijay Sharma. He handles rural sales, he forgets luggage at airports, he confuses Kevin Kline with Calvin Klein and he calls Yash Mithun-da (not always, sometimes). Yash has a deadpan sense of humour (which I like) but I liked Vijay even more. He totally rocked the book though my wife had a couple of 'yeh kya bakwaas hai' moments with him.
End result: for the "price of a Subway salad" (as Yash puts it), you get a book that keeps you chuckling all the way through.
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While I am it, I might as well tom-tom my own book a little with the help of three ladies. Three more ladies? Well yes, three of India's leading critics have only had kind things to say about KAT.
Anupama Chopra, Indian Express' Shubhra Gupta and Rediff.com's Sukanya Verma all seem to have read the book and - hallelujah - even gifting and recommending it.
Ab aap log issi mein convince ho gaye hain ya main aur boloon?
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By the way, you know the full form of KAT, right? Repeat after me.
Achchha bolo. (Praise)
Tohfe mein do. (Gift)
And yes, do move on from one stage to the next. (Three stages, again. Cool, no?)