Q & A
One Arranged Murder is about Keshav and Saurabh’s unexpected discoveries as they solve a murder in a big Punjabi joint family, who were about to be Saurabh’s in-laws.
What does the book hope to achieve?
It hopes to discuss the modern Indian family, and all the facade and dysfunctional things that often go along with it. Indians are extremely family minded, even though there may be a dark side associated with it. In a fun and entertaining manner, the book hopes to show a mirror to modern society.
Why did you write this book?
My previous book The Girl in Room 105 was my first thriller and murder mystery, after seven novels that were love stories. I was extremely nervous to attempt the genre, but readers absolutely loved that book. It gave me courage to attempt another mystery novel, but this time brought in a big Indian joint family as well, which would make it different from other typical thrillers. In some ways, I call it ‘the family murder mystery.’
Murder in the family, how does that make a mystery book different from others?
Well, because everyone in the family becomes a suspect. It is one thing to interrogate random strangers who may be suspects. It’s quite another to investigate mamaji and buaji, isn’t it? The Malhotra family in One Arranged Murder is a typical Punjabi family, the kinds I grew up in, and the way they deal with a situation like this is different from a typical crime series case.
The book is set in the backdrop of an economic downturn. Is the book about that as well?
I like to set my books in contemporary Indian backdrops. For instance, back in 2005, One Night @ the Call Center was set in a call center, the hottest things those days.
Today, in 2020, we face a slowing economy, rising digital penetration and the prevalence of start-ups as well as plenty of failing businesses. I felt that would add an interesting layer to the book and give it relatability, despite it being a murder mystery.
Hence, One Arranged Murder is not a economic downturn commentary book in that sense. It is a book set in that backdrop, and the current slowdown forms an important part of it.
What is your take on the economy?
I am no expert, but having worked in investment banks in my previous job (before I became a writer), I can say that we need to give the economy a lot more attention. The big GDP growth numbers, or even other economic indices are not just for industrialists and economists. It affects everyone. India has a lot of young people with a lot of aspirations. If we don’t grow the economy fast, a lot of people will be left disappointed and without opportunity. Right now, the downturn is real but people’s attention and expectations from their leaders seem to be on other issues such as Hindu-Muslim and nationalism. All that is important, but for the next two decades I think Indians need to put their heads down and just work to grow the economy.
How is writing a thriller different from writing a love story?
There’s a lot of difference. Even though all my books are fast-paced and action-oriented, in a thriller, things have to move even faster. Also, everything needs to be really precise, each moment has to add up and make sense. In one way, with a thriller, every reader becomes an editor, and we have to be extra careful in the editing process to ensure everything fits just right.
The climax of thrillers is also really important – it has to have the right amount of tension and surprise for the reader. Doing all this was a lot of fun in The Girl in Room 105.
One Arranged Murder is an interesting title, and the word marriage is crossed out and replaced with murder. What’s going on?
I don’t want to reveal too much but all I would say is yes, the book has a lot of twists and turns. For more, read the book!