Murder in the mountains of southern India disrupts a close family.
Photographer Anita Ray and her mother’s younger sister, Meena, leave Meena’s Hotel Delite on the Indian coast to visit Anita’s other aunt, Lalita, in Kerala. Lalita has withdrawn from the north to her old family estate after her husband’s death, and her married daughter, Valli, is staying with her as well. Valli’s younger brother, Prakash, has also retreated to the house while he’s under scrutiny at the temple where he serves as an assistant priest. Even though Lalita brags about him and proposes him as a possible husband for the 30-year-old Anita, and even though Valli pretends to be happy with her own marriage, Anita senses that all is not well in the household. It’s the height of monsoon season in central Kerala. Wild animals from the nearby sanctuary are coming into the village, and Anita keeps catching nighttime glimpses of someone skulking outside the house. When she discovers a drowned body near the river, evidence points to murder rather than misadventure. Anita’s announcement of the killing distresses Parvati, a meek and gentle maidservant who has recently joined the household and, like the other people in the house, is not all she appears to be. When Anita pursues the mysteries within her own family, Lalita, Prakash and Valli all deny her accusations, get angry with her persistence and order her to stop meddling—until a violent incident proves Anita right.
In this latest adventure for Anita (The Wrath of Shiva, 2012, etc.), Oleksiw blends details about food, clothing and customs in southern India with family drama and just enough suspense to keep you reading.