Before You Breathe by Tanushree Podder

Publisher: Harper Collins, 2019

Genre: Thriller, Mystery

Page Count: 245 pp.

My Rating: 4.0/ 5

Set in the small, serene town of Ramsar (Uttarakhand, India), Before You Breathe takes you through a series of events that rock the sleepy town over a week. It begins with a break-in at the local doctor’s clinic and while the investigation is underway, other weird incidents follow–incidents that are bloodier. The town’s most affluent resident, Shekhar Sharma gets murdered soon after he complains of a break-in into his sprawling bungalow, Willows. Initially all these events look unconnected, but as the story progresses,the puzzle pieces itself together. Police officer Timothy Thapa along with ace detective, Retired Colonol Arjun H. Acharya dive in to sort things out in just 10 days! Is it an outsider that has the city’s crime record soaring or is it an insider with a motive? How could the break-in at a doctor’s clinic be linked to the murder of Shekhar Sharma? Is the murder committed by his niece, Naina or did Naina’s husband and Shekhar’s young wife get together to plot the murder to inherit the riches and live happily together ever after? As the days pass, the knots seems to get more tight and then gradually loosen up. But in the end the reader is in for a surprise!

If you expect this book to be a page turner right from the start, you will be disappointed. Mystery begins to unlock gradually– page by page and with each chapter you find hidden clues that begin to unravel. There are several characters, many of whom have no actual role to play either in the story or the plot. But the author has brought them in to bring life to the sleepy town and to make the setup more realistic. The scenes are very descriptive at places to make the characters and the situation come alive; you can actually feel the scenes being enacted in front of you.

The plot is not confusing or complicated, yet the main accused comes into the story much later. Though some clues are found initially, they are not worked upon because perhaps the author wanted the suspense to build up and bring in the surprise element absolutely in the end. The end is surprising, no doubt, but it could definitely have been more gripping.

What I loved in the book was how the suspense builds up as you keep turning the pages and you actually begin making your guesswork alongside. I’m guessing that there’ll be more books in this series because the cover says its ‘A Colonel Acharya Mystery’. The only thing I was uncomfortable with was the title of the book. I felt it could have been something else that could resonate with the story. But for everything else, the book is highly recommended.

While the review and the views expressed are my own, it has been done as part of the #Blogchatter Book Review Program

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