Blurb: Just You, Me And A Secret is a story of an amnesiac, Meera, who battles between her past and present.
Meera Prabhu wakes up after a terrible accident with absolutely no memory of herself. She sees a stranger in the mirror and seems to be living with another stranger, Ashruth, a doctor by profession and a clown by appearance. He claims that he is her fiancé. They were engaged to be married and would have been married already if not for the accident. He keeps on emphasizing on how much she loved him and yet, he keeps her apart from her family for her 'mental state'. Armed with what seems to be her personal diary, Meera tries to grasp her identity and her reality. But no matter how hard she tries, she just seems to be unable to connect.
In the present she develops a strange liking for Santhosh, a childhood friend. Does he love her the same way she does? Will the marriage be called off?
Will Meera break through the hurdles in front of her and be able to connect to her friends and family again? Most importantly, will she ever regain her identity again?
Disclaimer: I downloaded this book from Amazon while it was Free for a day.
Ever since I was a child, I have been a voracious reader of crime and mystery novels. Starting from Enid Blyton to Sherlock Holmes, to Agatha Chrsitie to modern writers like James Patterson, Michael Connolly, Mary Higgins Clark, Thomas Harris and others, I have internalized crime and suspense stories as if they are an evolutionary adaptation mechanism, a basic need. I live, breathe and even write mysteries.
Therefore, I cannot take a badly written mystery novel. And I've read one or two of them too.
Problem is, Bharani's novel is NOT one of the bad ones.
Story-wise, the book is quite good.
I like the intriguing note on which it starts- a girl, waking up, in a hospital, with absolutely no idea of where she is, or who she is. Sure, it's not a new trope in suspense. But the author handles it quite well.
The story develops well. I like the way Meera's story has been narrated, and her ordeal shown, being caged inside a house with a man she doesn't remember, and whom she instinctively shies away from. I also liked the way Meera and Santosh's characters have been developed- even Ashruth's character is mildly interesting.
But I found some parts very odd- like the abrupt, unrealistic way in which Meera gets her first boyfriend. On the other hand, the way she falls for the wrong man, after her break-up, has been handled quite well.
That brings me to my first grouse with this book: Language and Grammar.
There are many, many language problems in this book- basic problems. There are typos, wrong or awkward use of words, odd sentences and turns of phrases, purple prose and even wrong grammar, like over or under use of articles etc. I have a language fetish, therefore I like a well-written book, which is clean of the aforementioned errors. Bad language hampers my reading experience, and puts me off the book faster than I can blink. The prose is languid, jarring and distinctly uninspiring.
I wish the book was better written. It is not sufficient to have a good story- language and grammar IS important. If the language used to communicate the story is bad, how will the story connect with the reader?
Did the author or the publisher not realize, or bother to correct those mistakes during proofing or editing?
My second grouse is the way the author has handled the climax of the novel.
For us suspense lovers, the denouement of a mystery is the highest point of our reading experience. A well-written suspense novel builds up the mystery in a manner that sets readers' hearts pumping- and then gives us a climax to the story, a climax befitting of our admiration and that makes us go 'Wowie! X was the killer! Or- Oh! So Y is actually Z! And Z is actually A!'
Here, the author rushes through the climax, robbing it of a necessary dramatic flair that one sees in novels by the great Sir Conan Doyle or Agatha Christie. Every suspense novelist must know how to incorporate this dramatic flair in the structure and prose of their story, or the flawed execution just kills the joy of reading the book.
Had the author shown us the explanation at the end, rather than making the culprit narrate it, it would have been a much more hard-hitting story.
Verdict: I would suggest the author practice writing to improve her language, style and prose. Here, her writing is precocious and needs refinement- which will come from reading plenty of books- and I mean PLENTY- and writing practice every day. The author must write short stories to hone her craft, and get her work critiqued by more experienced authors. I would also suggest she critically read more thrillers to see how the climax is executed.
The book also needs extensive editing and rewrites. I have been critical and harsh in this review because I expect better from the author. She is a friend, and I would love to see her grow as a writer and produce better literature.
Just You, Me and a Secret is a badly written good story, to sum up.
As a side note, let me point out that there is no need to say 'Suspense Romance Thriller'- redundant wording and odd phrasing. Just saying 'Romantic Suspense' or Romantic Thriller' would suffice.
But if you're not to hung up on language and grammar, and want to read a good mystery to kill time, you can buy the book here: Just You, Me and a Secret