My Harith Athreya Mysteries are a series of murder mysteries that are set in different picturesque places in the vast Indian countryside. These remote, scenic places are spots that visitors don’t always go to.
Here is a blog post I wrote for Pushkin Press about books that left an impression on my with their settings:
A DIRE ISLE, the second Harith Athreya mystery has a real-world setting in Bundelkhand, Central India. It’s a remote spot on the banks of the Betwa River, a stone’s throw from the erstwhile Orchha kingdom. A wedding in the family took me there and supplied me with the setting for this book. Here is how that happened:
CrimeReads has listed A DIRE ISLE among the 10 novels you should read in December 2021. Here is their review:
The second novel in the Harith Athreya series firmly establishes RV Raman as an author on the rise and an impressive force in the world of whodunnits. In A Dire Isle, there’s a mysterious death at an archaeological site near a fabled island in the Betwa River, in Central India. Detective Athreya is called to investigate and encounters a kind of locked-room puzzle mixed in with gothic notes from the beyond. Readers who crave the fair play puzzling of a traditional mystery mixed in with some armchair travel will be richly rewarded.
Here is the first review of the upcoming mystery, A DIRE ISLE. Publishers Weekly review the second Harith Athreya mystery that is set in Orchha in Bundelkhand (Central India).
Raman’s enjoyable sequel to 2020’s A Will to Kill takes private investigator Harith Athreya to an archaeological dig on the banks of the River Betwa in Bundelkhand, India, at the behest of investors in the excavation concerned about financial irregularities. The site is run by the overbearing and unpopular Mrs. Markaan, who has a reputation for taking credit for work done by junior archaeologists on her team. Legend has it that a couple, forbidden to marry because one was Hindu and the other Muslim, escaped to a nearby island with a giant mastiff dog and have haunted it ever since. When Mrs. Markaan turns up dead on the island, Athreya must determine whether the death is related to the troubles with the dig’s finances, or if the island’s myths have become real. Raman does a good job weaving in the mystery with a possibility of the supernatural, all while juggling a large cast of characters. A multilayered reveal in the final pages proves satisfying as well. Armchair travelers and fans of traditional mysteries should take note.
A WILL TO KILL was reviewed by The New York Times yesterday. Here is the link and the text.
Thrillers Spiked With Malice and Dread
By Sarah Lyall
Jan. 15, 2021, 12:22 p.m. ET
“There are so many ways to kill,” observes a character in RV Raman’s A WILL TO KILL (Polis, 282 pp., $26), a modern-day take on the classic locked-room murder mystery, transported to a remote mansion high in the hills of southern India. “People drown in rivers, fall down stairs, have heavy objects fall on them, die of suffocation in airless rooms or dungeons, and even get scared to death.”
Here at the possibly haunted Greybrooke Manor in Nilgiris, a dozen guests have gathered at the invitation of Bhaskar Fernandez, an eccentric patriarch whose squabbling extended family is tediously dependent on his largesse. Bhaskar is convinced that someone is trying to kill him and has included on his guest list Harith Athreya, a canny private detective charged with looking into a series of suspicious incidents. To disincentivize any would-be killer, Bhaskar has drawn up two wills allowing for two different possibilities: one if he dies of natural causes, the other in the case of his murder. (Bhaskar is a lover of mysteries and enjoys his little games.)
The roads are rendered impassable by a landslide. The lights go out. Greedy relatives and hangers-on circle like so many piranhas. And before we know it, there is indeed a murder — but instead of Bhaskar, the victim is a guest, an artist with a murky past whose body is found, improbably, slumped in his host’s motorized wheelchair. Who did it? And who killed the second victim, not long after?
There seem to be several crimes going on at once, and a lot to pay attention to: an art scam, a drug ring, the falsification of identities, not to mention a spot of adultery. But Athreya is a fine detective with a curious mind, a cool eye for the chance detail, a skill in synthesizing disparate threads and a talent for resisting the insults of the requisite police officer assigned to the case.
Pleased to see A WILL TO KILL listed alongside some real big names as one of the best traditional mysteries of 2020. That too by Crimereads. Here is the link: