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Title: Death Under The Deodars - The Adventures of Miss Ripley-Bean
Author: Ruskin BondGenre: Fiction, Mystery, Murder
Publisher: Penguin Random House India
After being on my wishlist since it's release, Death Under the Deodars finally arrived and I was over the moon! I get excited about things like the book being a hardback instead of a regular paperback and that each story began with a small sketch of deodar trees drawn in freehand. The cover is as mysterious as it can get, but if it is Ruskin Bond, you cannot expect any less, can you?
The book is the latest one from Mr. Bond and is a collection of 8 short stories. The characters remain the same in all the stories, with events evolving around them. Miss Ripley-Bean is the central character in the book. She is seventy plus and has many stories to share. She lives in a portion of the Royal Hotel in Mussorie, which belonged to her father, but later sold to the current owner, Nandu. Mr. Lobo, another permanent resident of the hotel, entertains the guests by playing tunes on the piano. All these characters, in addition to the author himself and a few others, appear in all the stories. When Miss Ripley-Bean witnesses a murder, she is sure the murderer has recognized her. In another tale, a dead body is found in a box bed in one of the rooms of the hotel and one time, a big black dog seems to follow Mr. Bond to a party only to vanish, never to be seen again. The Daryaganj serial killer checks into the Royal Hotel. Who among the occupants would be his next victim? The hills sure have a lot of mystery hidden in their shadows. While that is the kind of inspiration writers are looking for, it can sometimes also act as a convenient setting to inspire a murderer.
I absolutely relish Mr. Bond's works and this one isn't an exception. There were a few stories that I thought could have been more twisted or tweaked up. Half of the stories were of the classic Ruskin Bond style but the others kind of lacked the stunning end that we are so used to. Nevertheless, I found it to be a mixed bag but the reader would definitely enjoy the few good stories that had all the necessary ingredients for the perfect mystery.
More than the stories themselves, it is the writing style that I so admire. Ruskin Bond has the knack of smoothly taking the story forward and then suddenly arriving at a shocking end. Almost like Hitchcock! I can keep on raving about how good Ruskin bond is but I guess, everyone knows enough, so I'll try to stop my ramblings here.
Last word. A bit disappointed but I wouldn't write it off completely. It still makes for a good set of mystery stories further accentuated by the eeriness of the misty, dark and lonely roads of the Himalayan hills.