Book Review: Six Suspects by Vikas Swarup

I’ve had my eye on this book since I saw Vikas Swarup being interviewed on a Filipino news channel months back. I was intrigued by the plot, which to me is very Agatha Christie: A corrupt playboy was found shot in a party and the police rounded up six guests found to have guns in their possession, each of whom had a motive to be the murderer. But which one of the six?

When I picked up the book from the bookstore, I was already sort of predisposed to like it. First, I was in India in February this year and its culture and diversity are still fresh on my mind.

Second, the story opens through the eyes of the main narrator, an investigate journalist. I’m a sucker for novels with journalists in it (Tom Rachman’s The Imperfectionists, Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy).

Third, Swarup is the author of  “Q&A”, the book which spawned the award-winning Slumdog Millionaire. I haven’t read the book, but I’ve seen the movie. (I don’t like to read the book once I’ve seen the movie version first. That’s why I make it a point to try not to watch the movie if I haven’t read the book yet.)

But despite all these predisposing factors, I found Six Suspects a bit of a bore. It took me a long time to finish it. I wasn’t caught up in it. I found the characters, even the slimy ones, bland and a little tiresome. Sometimes I had to flip back to remember who was who; there were a lot of characters with long Indian names. It was an effort to keep up with all of them.

The plot’s twist at the ending is a nice one, though. I didn’t see that coming. I had a couple of names in my mind as to who the gunman really is, but I was pleasantly surprised to find out I was wrong. I can’t give away any spoilers since the twist at the end is, for me, the only thing that makes this book worthy of reading, lest you decide to read it.

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