It’s been a while since I read a good murder mystery by a first time Indian author. Poornima Bhaskar’s Claire caught me off guard. Claire sounded more like one of those happily ever stories that we hear time and again but once I started reading Claire I was in for a pleasant surprise.
On the surface, Claire is a murder mystery but for me, the book was an exaggerated version of the various masks that we choose to wear. And I mean exaggeration in a good way. There are two distinct identities within each of us. While one is the real person with all our scars and imperfections the other identity is the mask we choose to reveal to the people around us.
As the investigation unfolds each of the breadcrumbs reveal an unknown facet of a known identity. There’s an interesting tussle between who Claire was and who Claire really is as we move forward. This tussle forms the crux of the narration. Each person in the story is different with traits that make them stand out from the rest. Of course like all murder mysteries, everyone is a suspect in one way or the other.
The success or failure of a mystery novel depends on how the author decorates the obvious. It is here that Poornima scores big time. She gives the reader hardly any time to pause and reflect and lures the reader in with frenetic pacing and an engaging narration. When the author paces the narration well it hides the minor blemishes and keeps the reader engaged.
This is one book I would recommend the readers to read in one go. It’s precise and engaging. The one downside for me was the creative liberty taken towards the very end. Though it serves the purpose even without that the book would have worked very well. To me, it felt like an unnecessary diversion. But that’s just me for others it might be a necessary addition.
I am yet to reveal the other characters in the story and I will not. To me, it is all about Claire and how her presence and actions impact the lives of people around her. Who are these people? What role do they play? You have to pick the book to find out.
It’s been a long time since I came across a book which deserved 4 stars. I have been stuck at 3 for a long time. But Claire deserves 4 Stars and thumbs up. If you like mystery novels and stories which are fast-paced this is the one for you.
Congrats Poornima Bhaskar for a very good start as an author. All the very best for the future.