Author : Manjiri Prabhu
Publisher : Jaico Publishing House
About the Author
Manjiri Prabhu lives in Pune, India. She’s been a filmmaker and television producer for several years and a writer of two romances, two mystery novels and a non-fiction book on Hindi films. She is currently putting the finishing touches on The Astral Alibi – the next book in the Stellar Investigation series.
Summary on Book Jacket
Sonia Samarth couldn’t have predicted it. It had only been a day, but her first advertisement had drawn dozens of responses. In the bustling city of Pune, with its winding alleys and exotic customs, Sonia has launched a brand new business – private investigation guided by Hindu astrology. Her unique brand of investigation might raise eyebrows but before long, she seems to have found her niche.
When a cat leads Sonia to her very first investigation, she uses astrology to unmask the killer. Suddenly, clients begin streaming in a persistent, handsome TV personality, a terrified bride to be a missing husband with suicidal tendencies. These cases initially seem like isolated experiences, but Sonia soon finds that they are bound by an invisible thread. Very soon she will have to look closely at her own stars a notorious international criminal has just crossed Sonias path and he has his own plans for her future.
Unconventional ideas make for a thrilling read. Don’t be afraid to experiment with them.
‘The Cosmic Clues’ – what a title! It piqued my interest. But when I read the subtitle ‘India’s First Astro-detective’ I had to read the book. It was a compulsion. I have always had an interest in the esoteric sciences, be it palmistry, tarot reading or the underlying theme of this book – astrology. So, needless to say I was overjoyed when I picked up a copy of this delightful book with astrology and mystery as its core elements. And let me tell you, I was not disappointed.
The cover art is brilliant, depicting the exact theme of the book using vibrant colors, astrological motives, yellow police tape and a dead body. I can’t help but commend the artist and his/her work.
Rather than a full length mystery the book is a collection of stories featuring Sonia Samarth as the detective and The Steller Investigations as her brand new investigative agency. Over the course of the book the author successfully conveys the trials and tribulations of a young investigator who is using an unusual detection took – astrology in addition to the normal detection methods, to establish her practice and build up her reputation in a nation where quacks have turned the science of astrology into a gimmick. All the eleven cases discussed are laced with a healthy dose of charts and predictions to arrive at the eventual solutions. Some of the cases are intriguing and some quite predictable. The recurrent case of an international thief ‘The Owl’ is eventually concluded in the last chapter, though not satisfactorily, which I think is deliberate. It silently shouts for a sequel.
Manjiri Prabhu has tried to depict Indian culture in the book with a backdrop of Pune city. Our festivities, lifestyle and values are all touched upon. Considering the book was first published internationally in 2004, the build-up of an atmosphere seems a must. For an Indian reader it may not have the same appeal. The language used is without much jargon, easy to understand. The stories are paced well and are based on a variety of themes, murder, theft, conspiracy, suicide etc. The reader is spoilt for choice.
Overall, the book was a fun read. It kept me glued to its pages, at times at the cost of my other entertainment activities.