Title: Killing Time in Delhi
Author: Ravi Shankar Etteth
Genre: Contemporary Literature, Mystery
No. of pages: 206
Bon vivant Charlie Seth, a privileged denizen of Lutyens’ Delhi, leads a life of idle luxury fuelled by money, drugs, sex and parties. A cocaine overdose kills his ditzy girlfriend, thrusting him into a maelstrom of conspiracy, murder, blackmail and promiscuity. As the world of Crazy Rich Punjabis unravels, Charlie’s future is suddenly at the mercy of an enigmatic woman, an unscrupulous swami, a society-obsessed policeman, a slippery drug pusher and a disloyal valet. The only person who can help him is his missing aunt. Holed up in the country palace that his grandfather had won in a game of cards from a raja on Diwali, Charlie plots his revenge.
Killing Time in Delhi is a brutally funny look into the shenanigans of Delhi’s ultrarich who live in the fast lane and are high on hypocrisy, borrowed money and dubious deals.
Killing Time in Delhi was a really fun read for me. I wholeheartedly devoured this book and finished it in actually one sitting.
What I really loved about this book is that while it shows so much about the extravagant and decadent lives of the ultra-rich of Delhi, it is also, for me, a book of art. Because interspersed among all the events in this narrative, are also old tales of such beauty and splendor of times gone y that it was naturally a book that I was bound to enjoy every page of. This mixing of the old world charm and the contemporary Delhi is so subtle and not at all abrupt that I applaud the author for it.
The mystery element in the book, starting for the actual triggering event that seems to start the story, until the very end when the identities and buried secrets (comment if you can understand my meaning) are revealed, is on point. The other elements of the thriller genre are also present here, mixed with some bits of existentialism throughout the book. Again, this existential issue is an underlying theme throughout the entire narrative in my point of view and structurally, I think it plays an important role in defining the people by what they do and why they do what they do.
The characters especially were made in such a way that it felt like we are reading and seeing the world through their eyes. I was so very frustrated with the actions of some of the people that I was ready to bash their heads with the book (that is not to say that I did not like the book). The author has been truly successful in creating these real everyday heroes who are persons in their own rights.
As I reached the end, I was flabbergasted. I could not have guessed the actual story at all – the heart of the mystery – so to say. It was unexpected and I really loved the way the book ended.
I really enjoyed this book and I can only hope that I will be able to read something just as amazing by the author in the future. I heartily rate it a 4/5 stars.
About the author:
One of India’s
most famous cartoonists and journalists, Ravi Shankar Etteth published his
first book of short stories The Scream of the Dragonflies in 1996. He then went
on to write five novels, The Tiger by The River, The Village of Widows, The
Gold of Their Regrets, The Book of Shiva and The Brahmin. They have been
translated and published in eight international languages. His books cut across
all genres like literary fiction, horror, crime and spirituality and periods
like feudal Kerala, Nazi Germany and the Magadha Empire. He also collaborated
with artist Paresh Maity on a coffee-table book on Kerala. Etteth is now
working on his sixth title, Killing Time in Delhi, which he says is a “a novel
on the shenanigans of Delhi’s super rich”. A Bollywood film on The Brahmin is
also in the works.
Ravi Shankar worked for Indian Express in the 1980s, and later as the Creative Director of the Observer Group. He joined India Today as Art Editor and went on to become its Managing Editor and, later, Editor-at-Large. He also edited the India Today Group’s afternoon paper Today and launched the lifestyle magazine India Today Spice. He was briefly the CEO and Editor and Chief of Voice of India and Millionaire. He is now a columnist and Consulting Editor with The New Indian Express and is based in New Delhi.
About the reviewer:
Nayanika Saikia, is one of the foremost book reviewers from the North-east and Assam, and is also an admin for the official India bookstagram page on Instagram. She publishes her own reviews and recommendations for poetry, fiction, non-fiction etc. on her bookstagram account @pretty_little_bibliophile which won the NorthEast Creator Awards 2018, as well as in daily newspapers, online magazines etc. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org .