Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Five reasons to read 'The Madras Mangler'

The Madras ManglerThe Madras Mangler by Usha Narayanan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In November 2013, while I was whimpering about my inability to achieve my reading target for the year, I wanted to help myself cope with the challenge by meeting a few like-minded folks at the Chennai Book Club meet, whom I thought would be a great source of inspiration. As we discussed this and that in the book club meet, an unassuming lady, whom I assumed to be an enthusiastic reader, politely revealed that she had authored a book called ‘The Madras Mangler’, a compelling thriller and she played a catchy trailer of her book. Usha Narayanan, the author of 'The Madras Mangler' and I exchanged our business cards and continued to catch up virtually, thanks to Facebook. When we met, I honestly didn’t have an idea that the high-spirited acquaintance of mine could unleash her creativity to write a page-turner, create a drool-worthy protagonist and feed the reader with twists and turns in almost every page. My husband, who is not a voracious reader, usually struggles to stay with a book till the last page. But much to my surprise, he finished reading ‘The Madras Mangler’ in three days and in between he called in sick. (I still suspect that he took a day off to finish reading the thriller). His unexpected determination to complete reading the book injured my ego. Despite that, it took almost two months for me to have a tryst with ‘The Madras Mangler’ (I surely kicked myself for procrastinating awfully).

The plot is simple yet interesting. There is an intelligent protagonist, who comes down from the States and happens to help a group of girls who are bogged down with life-threatening problems - the most important being a serial killer, who kidnaps girls, tortures and kills them and dumps their bodies in our very own Cooum. How does the able-bodied and bright protagonist saves the girl and nabs the killer form the crux of the novel! So how different is ‘The Madras Mangler’ from the plethora of other thrillers that the market is filled with? From Thomas Harris to Sidney Sheldon, many storytellers have explored this kind of a storyline. So, how does ‘The Madras Mangler’ stand out? Here are five reasons to read this interesting thriller that makes one’s reader’s block evaporate too.

1.A personal and a favourite reason is that the milieu of the book is ‘namma’ Chennai. When the girls’ corpses were being dumped in Cooum, with an excitement of a child, I was telling myself, “Oh! All these things are happening in my city!” Thanks to the author for sparing us from the pain of reading novel that’s set in a foreign place. With the ‘The Madras Mangler’, the connect with the characters and places is established naturally.

2.Fortunately, none of the characters indulge in monologues. Irrespective of their traits, everybody expresses their opinions crisply.

3.Narration deserves a special mention. The college girls don’t sing Fa La La La in the beginning and cry to death at the end. The author’s decision to avoid linear-narration is something that I really found interesting. The criss-cross narration takes the cake and it certainly makes the book more irresistible.

4.The explanations on how the killer unleashes the animal in her/him didn’t make me squirm. Although there were many ruffians like Jambu and Shaitaan, their needs to nourish their carnal pleasures were not so explicitly written. This talented author’s fine choice of words to articulate with clarity is not something that is found in many Indian authors.

5.‘The Madras Mangler’ might not be a great feast to your brain. But every once in a while, one would want to read something as racy as this book to take a break from heavy-reads. Maybe, it doesn’t make one ponder over deep meaning of life. But it surely helps one forget their half-witted bosses and escape from mundane reality.


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