Popular novelist Surendra Mohan Pathak has penned around 295 books till date out of which more than 100 are his Hindi novels authored under the Sunil Series, the investigating adventures of a crime reporter who works for a national daily, Blast as a full time employee. Among these hundred and odd novels of this crime journalist hero, the most popular one is Meena Murder Case which is based on the the plot of a divorcee woman’s murder for which her ex-husband is sentenced to death by the court. The high court confirms the capital punishment awarded to the accused by the lower court and when the due date of his execution is only six days away, he, being innocent, decides to seek the help of the kind-hearted reporter who always takes the side of the truth and firmly believes that truth always triumphs. How Sunil is able to expose the real murderer and save the innocent man from the gallows, forms the bulk of the novel which is thoroughly engrossing for a reader of murder-mysteries.
The suspects are many. Right from the two partners of the accused who run the stock brokers’ firm with him to his fiancee, his servant, his cousin, the lady-secretary of the firm, the accountant of the firm etc. make a good list of suspects out of which Sunil has to unmask the murderer. There is an airtight case against the accused with nothing in his favour except the truth and that’s the most important thing for our truth-loving, idealist hero. Digging out the hidden truth within a short time-span of 5-6 days is a Herculian task which, in normal circumstances, is next to impossible especially when the real culprit has framed the accused in the charge of his ex-wife’s murder through a fool-proof and carefully designed plan. However Sunil, being a staunch optimist who never loses heart over anything, makes it possible and able to ensure a stay on the execution of the accused at the eleventh hour through the order of the governor of the state.As I have said in an earlier review too, the most fascinating thing for me in the Sunil Series novels is the lively portrayal of the fictitious city of Rajnagar where Sunil is settled and carries out his acts pertaining to his investigative journalism profession. He is always in search of a sensational news for his employer newspaper, i.e., Blast. However he is the perennial supporter of truth as well as the underdog. We may not believe in the dictum – Satyamev Jayate (given the present state of affairs in our country) but this hero of Mr. Pathak does. He is never ready to do anything for a liar and ever ready to do everything to reveal the truth behind any mystery at hand and help the framed innocent.
It’s said that Surendra Mohan Pathak had lifted plots of many of his novels from British / American pulp fiction. May be. That’s why I do not proclaim that the plot of the novel is his original idea. However the treatment of the plot bears a stamp of his own which nobody can copy. The engrossing flow of the narrative, the twists placed at the appropriate places; the elaborative description of the personalities of the different characters involved, allowing the reader to peep into their minds and make a guess as to who can be the culprit; the humorous interactions of Sunil with his Punjabi friend, Ramakant and finally the spicy language which is a mix of Hindi, Punjabi, Urdu and English; all sum up to a very interesting reading which is worth the time and money spent by the reader. It provides the wholesome entertainment that we expect from a typical Indian movie.
Meena Murder Case is the 76th venture of Sunil which had been written in the late seventies by the author and it still maintains a fresh look in a fashion similar to the Agatha Christie novels written 70-80 years back. I unconditionally recommend this novel to the Hindi fiction readers who are fond of murder-mysteries / crime-detection novels.
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