A few years ago I accidentally came across a novel by William Kent Krueger titled Ordinary Grace. Unaware of my expectations, it turned out to be the best crime cum detective novel I had ever read in my life. So, after that I read many more crime, suspense, and detective fictions, but every time I bring Ordinary Grace for comparison. And this time too with this new novel ‘Six, Five’ written by an Indian writer Binary (probably pen name).
It is a pretty daunting book with over 400 pages and it has unwelcoming cover. Having a boy and girl holding each other’s hand did not make the cover very appealing. Blurb indicates that all Sherlock Holmes fans must go through this book once. I picked up thinking I will be, at least for a week or so, routing through different locations, part of outer and underworld, spies, undercover agents, grumbling detectives, good men and evil men. Often with detective stories, you become a part of their world; instead they enter your world. Much to my surprise, it does not kicked off with bit gaudy crime scene. Rather, I saw a chirpy and beautiful girl – Violet – seemingly in love with one of his college friends named Victor. These two characters are ‘spearheads’ in the novel – all throughout.
The hero of the book is Victor – a young student from E.G. Millennia College. Talking about worlds and spies, he is the only spy cum detective and little to his aid are some other students, I found them helpful but not intelligent. Overall, there are ten cases solved by this young lad. One thing that hit me most was that nearly all cases are stitched around the college campus and mostly about drug abuse. Since the location of the novel seemed in the United States, I got the hunch that drug and mass shootout are two common problems there. The last case in the story is mass shootout or say terrorist attack. Zombieland was like inspired by Hollywood movies, where people becoming zombies looked like surreal. The Flakka connection in the story was worth creditable.
The worthy takeaway from the book was entertainment laced with soft investigative crime fiction. See, I mean Indian writers are mainly famous for writing college and love and chic stories, however, the tonal shift in the book that takes many personal parallel stories along with the main cases indeed a matter of effective and special narration. Humour, wit, and sarcasm are abundant.
Going by my habit of comparing it with Ordinary Grace, I found Six, Five soft on my reading mind and at various instances the characters at the crossroads were repetitive. Yes, in some cases, I found the basic chase between the good guy and the bad guy, though this does not take up the majority of the story, however I liked it personally. In the form of personal crises and stories, like of Victor’s nomadic childhood and Violet’s mother’s drug addiction, added little extra texture and flavour to the overall themes in the book.
I don’t know how am sounding with the review, but love for detective fiction doesn’t see any ebb while reading this lengthy novel. Kudos to the author…I may read your second novel. Thanks!