A mystery in Lonavala

Maut Aaee Dabe Paaon (death came silently) is a murder mystery penned by eminent Hindi mystery writer Surendra Mohan Pathak. The story is set in the Hilly town of Maharasthra – Lonavala.

The murder victim is an aged rich person Vishnu Mohan Adhikari who had married a much younger girl Meera some three years ago. When he had proposed her, she did not deny under the hope of a decent and respectable wedded life and not because she is a gold-digger. However after wedding only, she came across the narrow-mindedness of Adhikari who had married by following his philosophy which was ‘wife is cheaper than maid’. Having no choice, she has been continuing with her married life knowing very well that the young family physician of ailing Adhikari, Dr. Shyam has been harbouring soft-feelings for her in his heart (without any response from her side).

Meera comes to know about the death of her husband when she approaches him with his morning tea. More than his death, the thing that startles her is a paper affixed in his computer-printer (being eccentric, Adhikari had been communicating to everybody in the family in writing for quite some time) and that paper says that she has an affair with Dr. Shyam. Frightened, she removes that paper from the printer and call the other members of the family – Abhishek, the nephew of Adhikari; Nidhi, the niece of Adhikari and Prabhat, her boyfriend who is a flop theatre-personality. Dr. Shyam also arrives and suspecting that the death is not a natural one, calls Dr. Devre, a senior and experienced doctor for examination of the body.

Dr. Devre advises for postmortem of the body as he feels that Adhikari has died of poisoning. Once it is established, all the family members become suspects in the eyes of the investigating police officer as now it’s a case of murder. Adhikari’s friend-cum-lawyer, Shekhar Saable also gets involved in the proceedings. Meera gets another shock when a private detective, Bhojani who has been after the family members under an assignment from Adhikari, blackmails her on the basis of his findings. Being the prime suspect for the murder, she finds no family member sympathizing with her but Dr. Shyam and advocate Saable appear to be on her siide. Soon, Bhojani also gets murdered in his office making this murder mystery more intricate. Finally, with the help of her silent lover, Shyam; Meera is able to prove her innocence when the real culprit is unmasked.

Maut Aaee Dabe Paaon is a traditional whodunit. Surendra Mohan Pathak has spread the story on the pages of the novel in his trademark style and kept the entertainment value of the book intact till the ending pages. The characters are utterly human with no unnaturalness in anybody’s character. He has explored the complexities of human mind also in his bid to explain the solution of the mystery. The novel is not a lengthy one and the compact narrative keeps the reader glued to the book. The story does not digress anywhere from its main path and moves straight towards its destination, i.e., the denouement.

With his storytelling, the author has allowed the readers to get acquainted with the geography of Lonavala (and to some extent, Khandala). Mr. Pathak has written two novels with the setting being Lonavala – this one and Saazish. Due to reading these novels only, I had developed a desire in my heart to visit Lonavala. And after reading the novel being reviewed in June 1997 and Saazish in January 2000, finally I made my first visit to Lonavala on 13th and 14th May of the year 2000. During that period, I was serving at Tarapur Atomic Power Station in district Thane of Maharashtra. The visit proved to be such a pleasant one for me that thereafter Lonavala became my favourite vacation point.

The minus point of the novel, in my opinion, is that any intelligent reader (who is fond of reading mysteries) can guess the identity of the murderer with a little bit of effort. However, the mystery being a simple one, can be considered a plus point also if looked from a different angle. The language is simple, the dialogues of the characters while talking to one another are praiseworthy and overall speaking, the narrative flows very well.

Published 24 years back in hard copy, this novel was not having a good production quality at that time. Since, it was not republished in hard copy later, it’s difficult to find any copy now for any prospective reader. As of now, it’s not available in e-book form also (a sizable number of Mr. Pathak’s old novels are presently available in e-book form on Amazon Kindle). Hope, it appears in e-book form soon.

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About Jitendra Mathur

A Chartered Accountant with literary passion and a fondness for fine arts
This entry was posted in Book Review and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to A mystery in Lonavala

  1. rationalraj2000 says:

    Looks like an interesting plot for a crime novel.

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