Book: No Illusions In Xanadu
Author: Ruby Gupta
Publication: Bloomsbury India
If you have grown up in late 80s or early 90s like me, you would be familiar with the characters of Phantom or the Ghost who Walks or Mandrake the Magician and his African friend Lothar.
Mandrake was created in 1934 and ran as comic strip till 2013 in USA. When I was growing up, thin comic booklets of adventures of Mandrake was available in Indian bookstores. I am not sure whether it was available later.
Mandrake the magician used the technique of hypnotism to create illusions and catch gangsters, mad scientists and a whole lot of villains. And the super hi-tech mansion that he lived in was called Xanadu.
When I first read the title of Ruby Gupta’s ‘No Illusions in Xanadu’, I was taken back to a childhood teeming with books and stories. I was quite intrigued at the choice of book’s title because I am not sure the current generation of teenagers and young adults have heard either of Mandrake or his highly protected mansion Xanadu.
No Illusions in Xanadu by Ruby Gupta is about the mystery that revolves around death of renowned actor, superstar Rajiv Kapoor. Almost everyone of his family who is set to gain from his death is a prime suspect. Professor Shantanu Bose, an accidental sleuth, studies and investigates every close associate of the dead actor. What intrigues him that the house is under surveillance and yet the murderer escapes. During his investigations, professor stumbles upon more skeletons in the family cupboard. The actor’s past affairs, Casanova tendencies, another love child and more. Amidst the intensifying plot, twist comes in form of death of actor’s second wife’s son who was set to debut in his first film.
Every time the detective feels sure of role of the immediate and extended family member in murder some new clue comes to light. With different people having different motives, detective ultimately another twist and a relevation ultimately discloses the real culprit.
What I loved about the story was that it was very fluid. I did not skip any page since there was no lethargy in the narrative.The twists and turns in the plot leave the reader curious. I have read quite many thrillers and there have been instances when I have guessed who the murderer is half way through the novel but ‘No Illusions In Xanadu’ was different and it was only when the last twist was added that the identity of murderer was revealed.
I liked the pace of the story. I am a fast reader and unless the story starts dragging, I usually finish it off in a day or two. This story kept me glued and I did finish it off in one sitting. Another thing I liked was no unnecessary cruel or bloody description of murders…quick and clean mention of the crime. I don’t have a particular liking to gore.
Its a good mystery story.
Read excerpt at Goodreads