Skip to main content

Book Review of Where Did You Go? by P.L. Jonas

 

The popularity of novels like Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train with an intriguing premise, unreliable narrators and plot twists, has put the spotlight on psychological suspense stories. Such stories have a thriller like urgency about them and yet are rooted in familiar, real life situations. A well crafted, edgy psychological suspense can keep the reader hooked till the very last page. 

The novella Where Did You Go? by debut author P.L. Jonas begins with an intriguing set up. Sammy, a successful but reclusive ghostwriter, is offered a chance of a life time. The project involves completing a half-finished manuscript by her favourite writer, Margaret Mitchell, the celebrated author of  the all-time classic Gone with the Wind. Her brief is simple: she needs to follow the outline that the author has left behind and submit a draft within a tight deadline. 

Her publisher, James, is confident that Sammy has what it takes to finish the novel. The chance of having her name on the book along with that of Mitchell is an exciting prospect. Even though she is extremely anxious about the publicity that such a high-profile project is bound to attract, she agrees to take it up.

As she dives into the project, Sammy begins to have doubts. Has she bitten off more than she can chew? And what's with the vivid dreams of Rhett Butler where she finds herself in the role of Scarlett? Is it just the pressure of writing the book and the looming deadline? Only problem is that she doesn't remember adding several scenes to the manuscript. Is she sleep-writing? Is that even possible? 

Like every good psychological suspense novel, this one too probes the mysteries of the mind. Sammy as the unreliable narrator keeps the reader's attention hooked. With little breadcrumbs thrown in about Sammy's childhood years and her troubled relationship with her mother, the author puts together a gripping plot. What the author does beautifully is make the main character and her career (ghostwriter) an intriguing part of the character's mental makeup. Is Sammy just a writer who like many others in the business has a vivid fantasy-prone imagination? Or is there something in her past that she is hiding? Are her dreams just dreams or is there some truth to the scenarios that are being revealed to her in her dreams?

The flaw in the story is that the plot twist comes a little too early. And the subsequent revelations are more tell than show. While the story revolves mainly around Sammy and her inner world, the other characters like James (her school friend and now publisher), her estranged brother Matthew do play minor roles. The author has missed an opportunity to mine these relationships to further deepen the mystery before giving us the big reveal. Gloria's role as the nosy neighbour too remains underdeveloped. 

Overall though, it's an engrossing read. If you enjoy reading psychological suspense, you won't be disappointed.

Get your copy from AmazonIN   or Amazon.com

 

Thanks to Saga Fiction for an Advance Review Copy of the book. 



 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Basu Chatterji's "Balcony Class" Films

Basu Chatterji's Rajnigandha was like a breath of fresh air in the 1970s film universe of Bombay. At a time when the Angry Young Man was beginning to dominate celluloid screens, Amol Palekar was as un-hero-like as you could get. He was the Common Man who traveled in buses, did not have hero-like mannerisms and did not breathe fire and brimstone at his opponents. Basu Chatterji's Middle of the Road Cinema burst on to the scene and surprised the movie-going audience with its everyday situations and storylines that had an undercurrent of humour. Chatterji catered to an audience that he liked to call the "Balcony Class".  Anirudha Bhattacharjee, author of Basu Chatterji and Middle-of-the-Road Cinema writes an entertaining and heartwarming account of the life and work of Basu Chatterji, one of the most under-rated directors of Indian cinema. Recall of Chatterji's brand of feel-good, slice-of-life movies is perhaps highest for his Rajnigandha, Chotisi Baat, Baaton Baa

Tomb of Sand by Geetanjali Shree - Review of the International Booker Prize Winner

Tomb of Sand by Geetanjali Shree My rating: 5 of 5 stars Geetanjali Shree's original book in Hindi is called Ret Samadhi and the translated version by Daisy Rockwell is Tomb of Sand. The writer's style is lyrical and captures the essence of an Indian family completely and evocatively. In fact the amazing thing about the author's style is that it goes above and beyond the cast of characters, roping in inanimate objects (like the door, for instance), the natural elements, crows and invisible things like borders. The story lies not so much in the plotline of an old woman and her journey to find the house and man she has left behind as in highlighting the nuances of families, countries, borders, neighbourhoods, galis and mohallas , the environment, the smells, sounds and landscape, the past and present and everything in between (including a delightful treatise on the silk sari as narrated from the point of view of a crow!) that makes up the heart and soul of India. The writi

Review of Vikram Vedha - The "Kahani" lets the film down

If there is one movie that is perhaps the Godfather of all dirty-cops-and-gangsters movies, it's gotta be The Departed by Martin Scorsese. Interestingly, it was an adaptation of the hit Hong Kong film Infernal Affairs . While the latter was itself a very popular film, it may not be wrong to say that The Departed has surpassed it by acquiring near cult status.   So, it was with this in mind I wanted to watch Vikram Vedha which is a remake of the Tamil film of the same name. The original film starring Madhavan and Vijay Sethupathi was a huge blockbuster and it was no wonder that the filmmakers were keen to remake it in Hindi with Saif Khan and Hrithik Roshan in the roles of Vikram and Vedha. However, the Hindi remake failed to recreate the magic of the original. Even though the film is supposedly an exact copy, made by the very same filmmakers who directed the original.  While there has been a bunch of theories about why the Hindi version failed, the consensus has been that "