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Read it here
Title: Missing, Presumed Dead
Author: Kiran Manral
Genre: Crime, Thriller, Mystery/Family
Rating: 4 Stars
I do not read thrillers. I normally stay away from them. From most of them at least. But, “Missing, Presumed Dead” is not just another thriller or not just a thriller at all for that matter. It is so much more and thank god for that! I read one of Kiran’s books before picking up this one and thoroughly enjoyed it. That one was eerie, with some suspense and kept me on the edge. This one on the other hand is more contemplative, it has its elements of thrill but what pulled me toward it was the language (simple and effective), characterisation and pacing. At no point did I feel the book go flat or not living up to my expectations.
As the synopsis will tell you, “Missing…
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A quick Q&A that was most fun. Thanks Priyanka Sinha Jha, Martin Noronha and Vasundhara Seli for this.
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“I read the novel over this weekend, and it made me wonder about so many things- the terror and unspoken demons and fears so many lives are steeped in, the silence that lets the fears grow and grow, the helplessness that finally consumes many.
This gripping novel is a psychological thriller, and full of things left unsaid. In it, Kiran once again takes us to a small town in the Himalaya, a locale similar to the one she had set her earlier excellent mystery The Face At the Window, in. A fast paced, atmospheric book, Missing, Presumed Dead is a puzzle, a chase and a page turner which reveals some, hides some, and unsettles much.”
Founder, Writers and Beyond
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On Goodreads. Thanks R Ganesh.
“Without including revealing spoilers, let me say that this novel does not disappoint from the genre-busting plots that Kiran manages to weave. The blurbs and reviews already set the reader up to expect mystery surrounding a protagonist suffering from mental illness. The author has said that she is fascinated with spooky elements so this story has an undercurrent of that, too.
The significant thing about this novel is the writing. Any simple dialogue or thought by the characters is turned into a tantalising portent of dark happenings. Beautiful phrases abound, and encapsulate a sweeping commentary on the times we live. The fragility of well presented appearances and relationships is examined, almost mercilessly exposed for its more realistic dimensions, but the author manages to still create an empathy in the reader for the characters. None of the characters is without flaws but they are all believable, even if it is just a passerby who comes and disappears within a few lines of the story.
The build up to something disastrous about to happen is continuous, right from the first two chapters. As the apparently disconnected events begin to coalesce, the mental states of the characters unravels, and the plot unfolds but Kiran manages to inject enough twists to pile up the puzzles rather than gradually demystify the goings on for the reader.
At one point I felt there are not enough pages to have one grand illuminating finale accounting for everything with a level of satisfactory consistency and clarity. In a way my suspicion proved correct and though there is no other ending I would have probably liked more, there are enough elements left without explanation for an interesting sequel at some point in time.
What I most admired about Missing, Presumed Dead is that within a readable and racy story, Kiran Manral–based on research and interviews as mentioned in the acknowledgement–has presented the agonies of a person suffering from mental illness as well as the anguish that their near ones go through, without simplifying it to a one-sided narrative.
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A lovely interview in the Red Elephant Foundation. Thanks Kirthi Jayakumar.
“As an author and as a writer on women’s issues and feminism, what are your constant creative and thought processes like? Do you find yourself tending towards reacting, or is it more of responding, to things around you?
I would think it is always a mix of reacting and responding depending upon how issues impact you. For me, the women who drop out of the professional workforce and find themselves searching for purpose as their kids grow has been a strong influence, having been there myself. That was my protagonist in The Reluctant Detective. In Saving Maya, it was a woman struggling to rebuild her life after a divorce. Once Upon a Crush and All Aboard, which both frothy romances on the surface, dealt with the very real fear of crossing 30 and not being ‘settled’ which most women face, and specific to All Aboard, of being forced to take stock of your life, once the plan (marriage in this case) crashes. I listen, I observe, I react, I respond, and some of this filters down to what I write.
You’ve broken heteronormativity in your writing, presenting it like it is. What informs your thought process? As a writer, what were your key challenges in presenting a narrative on sexual orientation that isn’t lived or your own, directly?
I’ve always believed that we need to present all orientations in our literature, and that heteronormative relationships need not be the only ones depicted in our literature. As a writer, one writes on varying experiences, situations, times and lives one hasn’t lived. Different sexual orientations are one manifestation. I think as long as one approaches every situation, character and narrative with the determination to treat it with respect and truthfulness, the narrative will hold good.
Tell us about your new book.
My new book is titled Missing, Presumed Dead. It deals with a woman going missing, a dysfunctional marriage, mental illness and all the battles that break us, and sometimes we don’t emerge from. It is a psychological thriller, and I write about how perspectives and narratives change and how we can’t always trust what we’re told, or shown, and we don’t really know what is going on in anyone’s head. What inspired it was the strange thought that what if all one runs away from is the urge to be found.”
Read the entire interview here.