BOOK TITLE: Claire
AUTHOR: Poornima Baskar
GENRE: Fiction / Thriller
NUMBER OF PAGES: 160
SERIES / STANDALONE: Standalone
HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: Took this book up from Kindle Unlimited
A body found in the river has been identified as Claire Rewns, a happily married woman in town to sell her father's handmade toys. Her drowning could be just an accident. But too much doesn't add up and Detective Bracken's instinct is pushing him to probe every lead. With every road leading to a dead-end, is it possible that Bracken is just off his game? Or is there a missing piece to the puzzle that is Claire Rewns?
Some books are from famous authors, and you wait with anticipation to get your hands on them as soon as they are released. And then there are books that are promoted so well, that you have no option but to become curious. And then there are few books that you hear about, and few books that you'd want to read because they pique your interest by the way of word-of-mouth talk from people 'in the know'. Claire came to me, recommended by a friend, with strong (and rightly placed) adjectives that made me want to pick it up and read immediately.
Claire - simply the master of minimalism in covers in recent times. With a simple hand stretching out of water, the whole picture in grey, the cover drew me to the book, making me want to know more. Special mention to the designer. And then there was the summary. Succinct and clear, the summary has just enough to get the reader engaged to the book. It introduces the central character and clearly identifies the questions that would be answered. So with many expectations, I dove into the book.
There are always preconceived notions about the books we pick up to read, and most of them are decided on reading the title, summary and the author's name. The mind moulds itself into the notions and twists itself to read the book with this background data in mind. Claire effectively manages to break through three stereotypes. It is the work of a debutant author - but that is evident only if you know it beforehand. The book is based out of a western fictional town, with local characters, but it is written by an Indian author, a fact that the reader would forget when they read the book. A debutant has managed to steer clear of the tried and tested route of romance / inspirational semi autobiographical stories and has managed to write a clear thriller without resorting to any additional marketing substances inside the story. And for these, this book deserves a special mention.
Claire Rewns - found dead in a lake in the middle of nowhere, presumed drowned to her death. The investigating officers intially face an open and shut case. But with one of the officers having lingering doubts, and another officer behaving strangely enough to arouse suspicion, and yet another officer with a screaming gut instinct, they decide that Claire Rewns's death was anything but accidental. The investigation begins and rushes through a series of dead ends one after the another, making the lead detectives question everything they know. The leads all point to the woman being one of the most innocent people living on the earth - to the point of unrealism, and the race ends up as a mad scramble to find a crack in the perfect veneer.
How could a novel spin with one central character (it is aptly named, by the way) so tightly that the woman could dominate every line, every plot twist and every scene of a novel? How could someone, anyone, be so perfect that not one person remembers anything bad about her and still end up dead under doubtful circumstances? What could have happened in the middle of nowhere in the dead of the night that could have led to a woman's death? Claire (the novel) answers all these questions, as a racy narrative that does not slacken in any single scene. The book scores in the way it sets the plot, poses the questions and ends up answering each and every single one of them.
It is more than a simple murder mystery, and definitely more than the average thriller story. Claire's noteworthy points are its plot and the execution. The twist in the climax may work for some, and end up making some others wonder about the sleight of hand the author deftly practiced throughout the novel. Language wise, the self edited book could have reached a better position with editing, but at no point is the pace slackening. Nitpicking complaints, the book needs better background stories for the characters so the readers are emotionally invested in them, and it needs clarity in dialogues for the readers to follow the book's otherwise fast pace effortlessly. Overall, the book won even without the excuse of a debutant author (which was not factored in during this review) and I would look forward to reading more from the author very soon. The literary scene needs more such authors.
WHAT I LIKED:
- A tight plot, with great twists that never let the pace down
- All loose ends tied up with precision - a rarity in such novels.
- That a single woman could dominate a novel despite being dead since the beginning - that is the highlight of the book.
WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER:
- The novel did justice to most of the characters but could have given a little more space to the detectives' view of things, especially Hailey.
- Conversations needed more clarity, and sometimes better identify the speakers.
- The book could have worked even better with descriptions that will get the readers to empathise with the characters more.
Dead women tell tales - from the bottom of lakes if they have to! Go for it!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Poornima Baskar is a blogger and writer living between Chennai and Singapore. She blogs at loudthoughtsvoicedout.wordpress.com. She has multiple viral blogs, with over 1.5 million hits across platforms.
She began writing her first novel six years ago and aligned its release date with her 25th birthday in 2017. Her book is a work of fiction, directly in contrast with her blogs that narrate her personal life and emotions.
When she's not writing, she is painting, sketching, or enjoying her coffee while cuddling with her dogs.
EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Kindle
PRICE Rs. 192 for Kindle, free on Kindle Unlimited.
BOOK LINKS: Amazon