Tuesday, November 12, 2013



Over the past few months there have been two book releases which interested me. They are the ‘Fall’ by Vijay Raghav and ‘Are you Really Happy?’ by Deepak Chatterjee. Both colleagues and who I know. Both bankers by profession and serving in the financial services industry and in that sense they fall in to the club of Ravi Subramanian who though is an award winning author of a number of popular thrillers about banking and bankers. These two writers are first timers and their genre is entirely different. While the ‘Fall’ belongs to the love murder-mystery thrillers, the second is a more serious and introspective work. I decided to write a review of ‘Fall’ first, reserving the latter for a subsequent post.

I was intrigued by the title ‘Fall’. To me ‘The Fall’ by Albert Camus has been a bible and it was only natural that my attention was drawn to the book. In the first page the author defines ‘Fall’ as - to descend freely by the force of gravity, to hang freely or to drop oneself to a lower level. But I presume that the author decided on this title from his own prose-poetry ‘Autumn Leaves’ which is central to the theme of his novel. Autumn has always been associated with introspection and in poetry is associated with melancholy. As the leaves wither away and the tree stands stripped of all its grandeur to be slowly covered by the snow of winter, one is overcome by a feeling of sorrow at the process of aging and approaching death. The book starts in early spring and ends with the onset of winter and in that sense moving through all the stages of love, passion, glory, decay and death.

This book is a love murder-mystery thriller and as such is not open to serious introspection. It has been written solely for the purpose of engaging the reader only for that period of time till he finishes it. In this the author has succeeded, for the book is well crafted and written in a very lucid style. It makes you want to complete the book at one stretch and which of course is what happened to me. It was after a long time that I was reading a book of this genre.

The author is a young finance professional and this is his first attempt at publication. I do not know how he was able to manage both the job and the book. This could have happened only if he had been writing for along time. The poems in the book slacken the pace and I personally felt that it was not necessary to give so much space for them in the book, but they do reflect a sensitive and creative mind.

The entire scene of action is in France and Vijay as has written it so authentically that one would think he had stayed in France for a long period of time. It is evident that he has done a lot of research in this aspect. Of course the question arose in my mind as to why he did not base it in Chennai or in Mumbai, both places he is familiar with and which could have lent additional authenticity to his writing. I could find three reasons – one that he wanted to cater to an international audience and the more important reason being that the kind of relationships he depicts in the book are not possible here. I felt that the relationships between the main characters, is a bit too impulsive and contrived, and of course we do not have a Fall season here, which is central to the book and which is woven around ‘Autumn Leaves’. Only the author can answer that.

The book could also have been named as ‘The Closed Door Murders’ but this would have taken the focus away from the author’s intention to highlight the poems in the book. Since there are a number of books with a similar title it could have also been named as ‘Autumn Leaves’. But that is the author’s choice.

There are two or three pages which are devoted to the solving of a puzzle important to the clues to the happenings in the book. Though interesting, they may sound like a lecture on mathematics and may not hold the attention of some readers.   

One should acknowledge that the book does keep you engrossed till the end. A good and well developed plot and well told. The author has a way of narrating in simple words and sentences and this makes it easy reading.

It is mentioned that though this is Vijay Raghav’s first published novel, he has also published a collection of poetic essays ‘The Peak of all Thoughts’. I am yet to read it but I am sure that he will be getting into some more serious writing as he has already tested the waters now.

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