Book Review – Murder in the Palace and Other Stories

Author – Priya U Bajpai is a short story author and poet, with several of her past work

having been published in mainstream newspapers. A literature scholar, Priya loves writing fast-paced and layered tales across genres.

Book Review of Short Stories

Book – Priya’s book is a collection of short stories which range from murder mysteries, sci-fi, historical fiction, horror to paranormal.

The book starts with a murder mystery ‘Murder in the Palace’ where Detective Anna Roy is called upon to solve the case of the mysterious death of Susanne Smith, a royal heiress. There are various characters like her husband, ex-husband, lover, friend and best friend in the story, and each one of them seem to have a motive to kill Susanne. The mystery is multi-layered. The characters develop with the story and the clues keep you guessing till the end.

Banon’s Conundrum is a sci-fi that talks about the Sun dying and a new star Banon replacing it. I liked the story for two reasons – firstly, the Earth has rejuvenated its natural resources and has reclaimed its old beauty and charm, and secondly for the strong-willed female protagonist Kwakan.

In Blueprint, you actually admire the perfection-seeking Dr. Tanya Jacob and her obsessive love for Fibonacci sequence that makes her stop at nothing. However, a reader is left wondering who is the bigger protagonist here? The scientist or Fibonacci.

Geisha as the title suggests is a story of a geisha, who stands by her principles and gets her heart broken because of it.

Much has been written about one of the darkest periods in the human civilisation, the holocaust, however it is poignant and shameful to read every new one. Priya’s Horrific Holocaust talks about how a girl is not only not able to keep her promise to a Jew friend in the times of Nazi occupation but is also not capable enough to save her from death in the concentration camp. A simple story that makes you feel as helpless as the girl in the story and horrified at the inevitable end of the Jew girl.

I am II is again a sci-fi that raises the worrying question that was first put forward by the movie – I, Robot starring Will Smith where humanoid robots powered by artificial intelligence come together to take over the world. However, Priya’s II is not AI, but a step further. It is Infinite Intelligence which is more intimidating because of the dispassionate manner in which the machine thinks.

The Mysterious Globe and Neil’s Shoe, two of my favourites are not at all what you expect. Quite a twist they have and scary too!

Killer keeps you hooked till the end. Just when you thought you had solved the murder mystery, you find out it wasn’t what it seemed to be.

What I like – Priya’s versatility is commendable. Every story is different and interesting that it makes the reader sit up and think. Priya has good writing style and her characters are well developed. Dr. Tanya Jacob’s sinister character in Blueprint actually sent the shivers up my spine while I sympathised with Neha in Neil’s Shoe. Detective Anna Roy is a tough lady and doesn’t scare easy. I would like it if Priya can develop more stories around her.

What could have been better – Some of Priya’s stories especially The Dazzled, a story of a masseur and a mysterious lady on the metro, are short and less detailed which leaves the reader wanting for more.

This book gets a definite thumbs up from me. There is a bit of everything for every kind of reader, and the best part is it is entertaining to the core.

Download Priya’s book from here.

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