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One Arranged Murder By Chetan Bhagat | Book Review

Do you love reading thrillers?

We do.

Today we are going to talk about a nicely written thrilling police procedural set up in an Indian environment.

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Chetan Bhagat is one of the popular authors of modern time, from India. Well, you may have your opinions about his writing, but you cannot deny the sales figures for sure. For a regular reader, usually the linguistic attributes of the book doesn’t matter much. If he/she is reading it for entertainment, he/she don’t care about anything else. It is like when you are going to watch a film only for the entertainment purpose, a complete masala entertainer is what you are looking for. And, this discussion is not in anyway trying to say that Chetan is not a good writer. In face, he is definitely a writer who understands the likes and dislikes of his readers and delivers according to them.

The ongoing success of books written by him is the proof of his popularity.

Today we are going to talks about one of his recent books – One Arranged Marriage Murder.

Book Cover:

Let us start with the cover page of the book.

One Arranged Murder By Chetan Bhagat | Book Cover

One Arranged Murder By Chetan Bhagat | Book Cover

As you can see, the cover page of the book tries to show a traditional Indian marriage setup and a crime scene. It is an interesting way to represent the theme of the story. Rachita Rakyan has done a decent job here.


Let us take a bird’s eye view of the book plot.

The story is narrated by Keshav Rajpurohit, one of the protagonists. Saurabh Maheshwari is a sincere and healthy (you can call him fat also) fellow sharing the apartment with Keshav. Both Saurabh and Keshav are working in an IT company. While Saurabh is a kind of old fashioned or traditional in many sense; Keshav is modern in those aspects. Despite their differences they are good friends and as a side hustle they are running a small detective agency also! Yes, it was “Z Detectives’ ‘, and it is located in the Malviya Nagar market.

Saurabh met with Prerna Malhotra who has the same likes for food and can compete with him when it comes to body fat also. She is a brilliant and self-disciplined girl. She had big ambitions and being an entrepreneur she founded a food related start-up with a family friend – Prerna. She named their start up Eato and it was a food delivery app) Saurabh and Prerna found each other compatible with them and they got engaged to be married. And, it was a lavish event.

They both are very understanding and Saurabh has decided to stay in the same city instead of moving Mumbai, so Prerna’s startup don’t get affected. They both were truly in love.

Their families also got aquatinted with their counterparts and it was a really happy and lucky situation.

Then comes “Karva Chauth”, an auspicious day when married women keeps a fast and pray for overall happiness and health of their respective husbands. It is a very popular festival, especially in the northern part of India, where ladies break their fast by seeing the face of their respective husbands in the presence of the moon. Though not married with Saurabh yet, Prerna decided to keep fast for the well-being of her husband. Well, it was a private affair and not everyone was aware of it.

To support her, Saurabh decided to reach her place as soon as the moon rise, so she could break fast at the earliest possible opportunity. And, being a foodie, he understood her situation quite well :).

He took an auto and fought the traffic of the metro city. He reached her place late in the evening. He took the stairs to reach the terrace, from the back door and… he found her dead! She fell (or thrown) from the terrace and his dreams and future plan of life broke into pieces. But wait, he became the prime suspect also.

Was Prerna actually murdered or was it just an accident? Will Saurabh be able to prove himself as “not guilty”? Will Keshav support his friend in the quest to find the truth, even after Saurabh took the final call? Well, you need to read this thriller cum detective fiction to get your answers. And during the course, you will meet with: Keshav Rajpurohit, Saurabh Maheshwari, Prerna Malhotra, the only daughter of Ramesh and Neelam Malhotra (saurabh’s fiancee), Anjali Davis, Bindu (Bindiya Malhotra), Ajay, Aditya, Arora (prerna’s neighbor), Inspector Vijender Singh, Gopika Paswan (maid at Prerna’s home), driver Anwar(doesn’t stay in prerna’s home), Namrata Taneja(Prerna’s business partner, Ramesh’ partner’s daughter), Pyare Lal Maheshwari and Roshni Maheshwari (Saurabh’s parents), Nirmala Malhotra (Maaji, prerna’s grandmother), Parag (Anjali’s boyfriend cum boss), Neeraj Arora (Prerna’s ex boyfriend), Constable Shyam Gehlot, and others.

Views and Reviews:

The book is a good police procedural cum fantasy fiction that also tries to explore two different extremes, the traditional environment where people selflessly care for their loved ones and consider family as a unit, and the modern environment where people put their own emotions and benefits as the most prioritized things, influenced by the western culture they give more importance to material stuff.

Now, this is not an easy task, especially when you need to infuse these characteristics in a limited number of characters and places. The author handled it pretty well.

Of course, you can find expletives, a bit of cuss words and even a steamy scene. So, keep it away from underage readers. For the mature one, it is a complete masala entertainer.

It is really good to see the exploration of true love and selfless feelings in this book. It reminded me of good old Doordarshan days and some really good movies of early years.

The author keeps the book entertaining throughout. For example, the way he introduces us to Keshav and Saurabh and their accommodation, is really interesting. Not only it reflects the bachelor life quite well, especially when living alone in a metro, but also, the current lifestyle, the way technology reserved an important place in our day-to-day life and how two friends with totally opposite personalities live together. Their bond of friendship is pure. While one is quite idealistic and traditional, the other is more practical, happy-go-lucky, modern fellow with “no strings attached” behavior. However, their friendship is pure. And, as you keep exploring the story you find them standing together in tough times.

Let me quote some lines from the book in the same regards:

‘Where did the milk go?’ I said, empty Amul carton in one hand and fridge door in the other.
‘Back in the cow,’ Saurabh said. He sat on the sofa, tying the laces of his new, sparkling white sports sneakers. His fiancee Prerna had given them to him four months ago. Of course, Saurabh is more likely to enter a ladies’ toilet by mistake than a gym.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Like a twelve-year-old, Saurabh had stopped talking to me. Even though we lived together, we communicated mostly through messages.
I WhatsApped Saurabh even though he sat seven feet away from me.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
It is funny how you forget fights and automatically switch back to caring mode when your best friend really needs you.

In terms of their side hustle, their detective agency is not yet boomed.They are getting business enquiries like:

‘Myself Pramod Gupta. I suspect my driver has not been filling petrol for the money he takes from me?

Of course, there was a case when they helped police, to Inspector Rana and his team to be precise. And, that was a crucial case. Solving this case get Inspector Rana promoted as an ACP. So, they are always in the good books of ACP Rana.

Saurabh’s love for food and Neelam is mentioned through an interesting conversation.

He picked up the menu and scanned it like a radiologist checks an X-ray.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
‘She’s the one’ I said.
‘Really? How do you know?’
‘You gave up food for her. For two hours. If that’s not true love, what is?’

And you can find such interesting lines throughout the book. For example,

I just had to get there before the moon did. Of course, the moon didn’t have to deal with Delhi traffic.

The book brings in some harsh realities of life. As soon as a person is no more, a lot of things are changed for her/him. Here are some of the brilliant lines from the book exploring them:

‘Not the side of the road. Let’s take it inside,’ a constable said. She was an ‘it’ now?
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
After all, a living room is for living people, who can sit anywhere, on the sofa, easy chairs or even the dining chairs. Where do you place a dead person in a living room?

It is not easy to absorb the shock and accept the reality when it is sad and heartbreaking. While Saurabh is still in the emotional shock of losing his love of life, seeing nothing but the darkness in terms of future, he was unwillingly entered into the suspects list of police! And thus, became part of the simple questing like:

‘That’s your version then,’ Singh said.
‘That is what happened,’ I said.

And, eventually the officer tried to explain both Keshav and Saurabh the reality:

You don’t understand. This is a high-profile case. New Friends Colony, posh area. Business family. Young girl. Karva Chauth. The family may kick us out now, but soon everyone will be all over it. Cross-examinations, post-mortems, media nonsense, it is all going to happen. Just because we are in a quiet vehicle right now doesn’t mean it is going to stay this way.

The author doesn’t shy away from mentioning the media here. The way we see sad news is treated by many of the channels, found its place in the book as well. The lines are sarcastic (of course) and hard-hitting.

‘There you go,’ Saurabh said. ‘Welcome to entertainment from death. It’s already content for them.’
I snatched the remote from Saurabh’s hand and switched off the TV.

The author is good at explaining various attributes of an individual character or a widely accepted gender specific characteristic. For example:

‘Beta, God should give a child like you to everyone. And a bahu like Neelam. She raised Aditya, Geetu and Bindu better than I could. Never raised eyebrows like those evil TV serial bahus when Ramesh did things for his family.’
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
‘Yes,’ she said. ‘Going on a holiday with friends to Goa soon. And I had no clothes.’
‘Or rather, you needed an excuse to buy new clothes? I grinned.
‘True. But a girl doesn’t need an excuse to buy clothes? she said with a laugh. I noticed she had the cutest nose.

And, he also talks about the working environment in corporate. Of course, there always are and will be exceptions. But, this is a general scenario that almost everyone who has worked in corporate or has seen the life of corporate employees, will agree on. It has a sarcastic punch as well.

People who work in corporate have every bit of lifeblood sucked out of them. They don’t react with enthusiasm. They simply exist and breathe, as if waiting for their eventual funeral.

The author also talks about the high prices associated with brands and restaurants. And, he also takes a dig at the tax collection system.

‘Damn, eight hundred rupees for a mojito?’ Saurabh said.
‘That’s before GST,’ I said.
‘Of course. The government has to take a few sips of every drink we have.’

Being a police procedural, the story explores in detail, the involvement of police. Both from superficial and realistic perspectives. The humane side of law enforcement people is rarely shown. They have tough working schedules, almost no personal life and have tensed moments throughout. Of course, it applies to those who are honest and sincere to their respective duties. They need to get their moments of relief from these situations only. That is why all James Bond movies also include dark humor. This book also has a share of them:

Prerna Malhotra’s case may not even involve a crime, sir’ Singh said.
‘Hundred per cent there is a crime. She wasn’t a petticoat left to dry to just fall off the roof’ ACP Rana said. He looked at Saurabh.

‘Sir, please.’ Saurabh squirmed.
‘If I don’t joke, what is my life? Sit in front of this stupid computer in the office, listen to my stupid wife at night’ ACP Rana said.

In terms of some simple yet interesting lines which reflects the human psyche quite well, I would like toe quote the following lines from the book:

Some people just prefer peace of mind over justice.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Praise can blind even seasoned interrogators, I guess.

And, if I need to quote only a couple of interesting segments from the book, I would probably settle for the following ones:

I opened my CyberSafe pitch presentation instead, which was just about as exciting as re-ap-playing for a lost Aadhaar card.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
I like how the metro turns class upside down and delivers justice. The middle classes move fast, while the upper classes face trafficjams in their fancy cars below us. Justice, that’s what’s missing sometimes.

Of course, I am skipping so many aspects of the book intentionally to avoid spoilers and being a murder mystery, this book deserves that.

But, the quotes mentioned above and the overview of the storyline must have given you a fair idea of what to expect from it and whether it is the kind of writing you love to explore.

The book has some issues also. For example:

‘What?’ Singh said, gobsmacked. Bindu narrated her entire past. The two inspectors listened with their mouths open.

Here one was ACP, not Inspector.

But they are rare to be noticed by a casual reader.


In summary, this book has all the attributes of a complete masala entertainer like thrills, mystery, romance, family love, sacrifices, frienship and even adulteries! If you are love exploring such books, this is a good entertainer setup in the Indian environment.

ThinkerViews Rating:

Around 7 stars out of 10.

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