A hundred-year-old stage steeped in tradition. Six contestants with a world to gain and everything to lose. Three judges who stand between them and their dreams. It is October in Shimla. The air is crisp the mist is rising and the stakes are sky-high as the finalists of India's no. 1 reality cooking show hot chef are pitted against each other in a live shoot at the historic gaiety theatre. The spices are ground the fires are lit the knives have been sharpened. Then things start to go horribly wrong. As she picks her way through a maze of testimonies and motives Shimla's superintendent of police Niki Marwah is more determined than ever to get to the bottom of a perplexing mystery a mystery that this time around is dangerously close to her heart.
First look at the title and the cover and some might mistake it for a cookery book. But the facts underlie somewhere else. It's title a bit more suggestive towards the theme. The cover image could have been done in a better manner though it suits the theme. The blurb talks about an old theatre and some misshappenings under the jurisdiction of SP Marwah. The blurb as the novel requires doesn't gives out any clues and facts of the story and keeps it all under wraps.
The story starts off from Shimla where SP Marwah's quite evening is disrupted when there is a commotion in the Gaiety Theatre hosting one of the episodes of Hot Chef, a reality cookery show. A dead body of a star celebrity is discovered and after that it becomes a game of cat and mouse as Niki Marwah tries to hunt down the killers and find the motive. But the death and people involved in the show shrouded with a cloud of mystery. So will the show go on? Will Mala the deceased get justice? Is it someone close or a distant person who committed the ghastly crime? Will SP Marwah taste the spice of success? That's what the story is all about.
The story from the word go is fuming and steaming and serving a lot of spiced up events. The book starting off slowly but picking up gradually as it unfolds. The action, suspense and melodrama of the contestants giving edge and air to the whole idea. The entire set up fresh and never heard of in a murder mystery. The book managing to charm the readers with it's catchy narration and grit of SP Marwah. The surprises be-fooling all and playing appropriate mind games with the reader. The story running it's course smoothly till the end with a hero and a shadowy antagonist on the large. The entire plot manages to turn the tide and devoid the readers of any predictable ideas about the shaping up of the story.
The downside of the book is SP Marwah loosing her relevance sometimes as she is being overshadowed by the heroics of her sidekicks. More leverage to her character was required. The antagonist of the story has a brief appearance. The suddenness of few events not leaving a good impression on the mind.
All in all the story manages to tell tale a twisted murder mystery served with various and required flavours. The book managing to bind most of the aspects together and giving a fresh lease of life to the entire genre. The story manages to pull of some unprecedented heroics and grabs a lot of positive eyeballs all throughout. A book with a lot of spice and entertainment for everyone.
4 OUT OF 5