By R. V. Raman
Retired antiques dealer Bhaskar Fernandez is no stranger to attempts on his life nor to squabbling, spendthrift relatives.
To address both problems, he writes two wills dated on the same date and time and witnessed simultaneously in the presence of a lawyer so that neither can supersede the other.
As his son Manu explains it to renowned private investigator Harith Athreya, one will take effect if Bhaskar dies of natural causes; the other if he dies unnaturally.
In addition to discussing his father’s will, Manu invites Athreya to come to the family home, Greybrooke Manor, for a weekend when Bhaskar plans to unveil the provisions of his two wills. He has also asked Athreya to investigate if anything untoward happens to Bhaskar.
His odd approach to estate planning came about after several life-threatening events occurred: his car’s brake lines were cut; a venomous snake appeared in his bed; an out-of-control van almost ran him down and an intruder with a dagger entered his room. An accident long ago left Bhaskar confined to a wheel chair.
Thus opens author R.V. Raman’s country house mystery in the style of famed mystery writer Agatha Christie. This mystery is set in a British colonial mansion with a dark history in a misty vale in the Nilgiris District
of southern India.
The house and Fernandez family wealth have generated family tensions for years. Now, Bhaskar must plan to distribute his estate fairly to his own son, his wastrel nephew and two nieces as well as making a few small distributions to friends and neighbors.
Within 24 hours of Athreya’s arrival, one of the Fernandez’s guests is found dead, in Bhaskar’s wheel chair in the mansion’s chapel.
Was this an attempt on Bhaskar’s life that went awry? Why was the victim in Bhaskar’s wheel chair? And why the chapel?
As careful as Hercule Poirot or Miss Marple, Athreya conducts his investigation through a series of twists and turns that carry readers into the world of stolen and forged art on several continents.
If you like puzzle mysteries, shadowing the detective to guess the culprit before he does, you’ll enjoy this book. It has an atmospheric setting, a lively series of guests and plenty of red herrings.
About the Author: R. V. Raman
R. V. Raman grew up in India reading English mystery novels, but wondering why there were no murder mysteries and detective stories set in India. Raman began to wonder if he could write one himself.
It took him three decades to gain the confidence and experience with writing to start this book. His first foray into writing was fantasy stories written for his high school-aged children.
After that, he put his own experience as a business consultant into writing a crime series set in India’s banking industry. This series opened with FRAUDSTER and was followed by INSIDER, SABOTEUR and CONSPIRATOR.
One of Raman’s goals in this series is to set his stories in picturesque locales in India not usually seen by tourists. The second book in the series is set in Bundelkhand and the third in the Himalayan foothills in the shadow of the peak of Nanda Devi.
In addition to writing, Raman teaches business strategy to business students, mentors young entrepreneurs and is a consultant to selected clients. Before becoming a writer, he worked for global consulting firms advising companies, banks, regulators, stock exchanges and governments on four continents on matters of strategy and operations.