A Will to Kill

New York Times Editor’s Choice (January 2021). NYT recommends this book.

Named one of the best traditional mysteries of 2020. By Crimereads.

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An ageing and wheelchair-bound Bhaskar Fernandez has finally reclaimed his family property after a bitter legal battle, and now wants to reunite his aggrieved relatives. So, he invites them to his remote Greybrooke Manor in the misty Nilgiris – a mansion that has played host to several sudden deaths; a colonial edifice that stands alone in a valley that is said to be haunted by the ghost of an Englishman.

But Bhaskar has other, more practical problems to deal with. He knows that his guests expect to gain by his death, and to safeguard himself against violence, he writes two conflicting wills. Which one of them comes into force will depend on how he dies. Into this tinderbox, he brings Harith Athreya, a seasoned investigator.

When a landslide occurs, temporarily isolating them and resulting in a murder, Athreya finds that murder is not the only thing the mist conceals.

The New York Times: “… a modern-day take on the classic locked-room murder mystery, transported to a remote mansion high in the hills of southern India.”

The New York Times: “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.”

The Sunday Times (UK): “RV Raman’s hugely engaging novel A Will to Kill is set in modern-day India, but its origins lie in the golden age of crime fiction. . . Raman makes the most of his version of a locked-room mystery, endowing Athreya with an omniscience rarely seen in today’s jaded detectives.”

The Guardian (UK): “A Will to Kill is a slice of sheer pleasure: a locked-room mystery that blends the feel of classic crime with the modern world, while presenting a proper, thorny puzzle. There are Cluedo-esque maps of the manor and family trees to enjoy, as well as Athreya himself, the sort of brilliant detective who is a joy to watch piecing together the answers.”

CrimeReads: In this kickoff to a new series, Raman brilliantly evokes Agatha Christie’s classic country estate mysteries for modern-day India. When a patriarch emerges from a legal battle victorious and with his estate again free to dispense, he summons his family to a mansion in the Nilgiris valley. Knowing he’s at risk of coming to an untimely end at his relatives’ hands, he draws up two wills, in sharp conflict with one another, with one set to prevail depending on the exact manner of his death. It’s an ingenious plot, and Raman takes obvious delight in teasing out the suspense to great effect.”

Publishers Weekly: “… intriguing contemporary whodunit and series launch from Raman.”

The Hindu: “… a whodunnit modelled on the lines of classic mysteries with an old world charm …

The Telegraph: “… the influence of Agatha Christie on the author’s writing is unmissable. Enjoy a nostalgic trip back to your teenage years when crisp crime thrillers kept us awake for long nights.”

National Herald: “… the narrative tradition of Christie and Doyle has found a worthy successor in RV Raman.”

Hindustan Times: “This is no regular whodunnit though! It is pacey, clean and doesn’t have a single dull moment.” … “What might feel like a simple plot is dealt with beautifully.”

Orissa Post: “The influence of Agatha Christie and John Dickson Carr on the narrative is compelling … The narrative style also shows influences of author Ngaio Marsh. Like Marsh, Raman’s prose is what really makes him stand out. It is subtle, clear, ironic, but always elegant and peppered with witty liners; his characters sharply, sometimes hilariously, drawn.

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Watch a short video about the book.
Read my recent article on Crimereads.
Named among the best traditional mysteries of 2020.

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