Hooked on Books / AND NOW, SLICKASS HEN LIT?

March 21, 2012 at 8:31 am | Posted in HOOKED ON BOOKS (REVIEWS) | 4 Comments

THE RELUCTANT DETECTIVE; by KIRAN MANRAL; Westland; Rs 195; Pp 180; paperback

IMAGINE A MID-30S  HYPERACTIVE school-gate mom with a hyperactive smartass kid, living in a suburban urban housing complex. And she not wanting to poke her middle-class nose into other people’s kitchens or murders on the jogging track and inside the complex. Add to that plenty of throwaway one-liners that only a wacky wife and mother full of, and surrounded by, much nervous energy could think up and pen down.

Thank God, Kiran Manral’s not another banker or ad copywriter who has kicked her job, not another IIT/IIM-advantaged dropout genius who has torn up his degree, not just another chick with a viewer-friendly mug and stilettos to match. More than Chick Lit, this one comes with a refreshing take (though the pheeka pinkish-green cover does unabashedly submit to a dominating stiletto illustration with a little blood thrown in under it). You just got Blue: The Tranquebar Book of Erotic Stories from Sri Lanka  as Sex Lit. You can call the stuff Kiran Manral struts here as pioneering Hen Lit (with due apologies to the lovely chick of an author).

Among the best parts in Kanan Mehra or Kay’s life as set out in the beginning of the book are those that deal with her little son Kabir. Quickly, like a multitasking housewife, the author Kiran Manral (Kay, obviously) stumbles onto a dead body in the complex. Enter, the cops.

Which actually excites her vicarious Gossip Queen juice glands, and she decides to offer enthusiastic unsolicited help (to herself mainly) in cracking the case. Or what do you do just attending déjà vu kitty parties and chatting on fashion, food and whatever the third ‘F’ could be? Not one but two murders, as it turns out! What a life-changer (and grist for the kitty mill) this could be, slurp.

If you are willing to wait for the real whodunnit stuff till rather late in the book and would rather chuckle at the breezily witty observations of life, you won’t be disappointed. Especially on a lazy Sunday or Moonday.

Disclaimer: Kiran was fresh to journalism when she wrote for me as a freelancer for the The Telegraph Magazine  some two decades ago. Then she fell off our radar, drifted away into other, better orbits. Kiran now as a not-so-reluctant novelist is a kind of a reunion embrace and I have a vested interest of fraternity sentiment in her. Nevertheless you are advised not to take the review with a pinch of sugar. It really is trending, slickass (ouch, Kirrrran!) Hen Lit.

To wit, to woo.



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  1. Thank you Anil, kind words indeed.

    • Thank you Kiran for the pleasure you gave me reading your book. Proud of you.

  2. Lovely review. Excited my juice glands as well.

    • Thanks Mou, hope Kiran knows this too! Thanks for encouraging me by reading it on my blog…

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