Meet Mr Prachand Tripathi, private investigator and owner of Kanpur Khoofiya Pvt Ltd. Accustomed to tracking down missing pets and cheating lovers, he is about to have his world change completely when a new case requires him to tail actress Shailaja Kapoor. What seems like a simple request turns into a dramatic dive into her murky past, wading through which is not going to be easy. Or safe. Soon Prachand and his wife, and partner against crime, Vidya, fall under the glare of the police as Shailaja Kapoor is abducted right before their eyes. Now he must put his skills to the test before they become victims at the end of a dark and dangerous game.
I would consider Kanpur Khoofiya Pvt. Ltd. to be a cosy mystery that relies heavily on humour to appeal to readers. The first half of the book is set in Kanpur and the author does a brilliant job of capturing the local flavor, using turns of phrase typical to the city and names of authentic locations.
I couldn’t stop giggling through the first half–the eccentricities of the Tripathi family and the ineptitude of the local police are immensely funny.
The second half of the book takes us to Mumbai where Prachand Tripathi, private investigator, follows the trail of yesteryear actress Shailaja Kapoor, but it couldn’t keep me engaged. The humor began to feel repetitive and couldn’t hold up the plot, which felt unnecessarily complicated and long-winded. There isn’t much of a mystery–at least, I could figure out by around 80% who the murderer was. Some characters are force-fit at the end for seemingly no purpose. Also, Prachand doesn’t really have much detective work to do because the narrative is taken over by other characters who begin to tell their own story.
It seems like the book was written for the screen because I can picture Rajkummar Rao doing a fabulous job as Prachand Tripathi. The chase scenes and over-the-top drama belong in a Hindi movie. This isn’t to say that the writing is farcical. The author makes some tongue-in-cheek but astute observations on social and political matters in the country.
Reading Kanpur Khoofiya Pvt. Ltd. made me feel nostalgic because I’ve spent some time in Kanpur. I would recommend this light-hearted mystery with madcap characters for an authentic small-town experience.
If you enjoyed watching the web series “Panchayat” or the movie “Made in China,” parts of this book will remind you of the same brilliance.
Publication date: August 25, 2019
Publisher: Black Ink
HarperCollins India – https://harpercollins.co.in/product/kanpur-khoofiya-pvt-ltd/