Review on: One Arranged Murder by Chetan Bhagat

Who can read?

Just like most of his books, “One Arranged Murder” is written for the masses. Because the language is so simple and flowy, the book can be easily picked up by a non-reader or a beginner-level reader in English.

Let’s talk about the storyline

Keshav and Saurabh are best friends, colleagues, flatmates, and business partners at a detective agency they started. They are the same guys whom we see in the book, “The Girl in Room 105”. But Keshav and Saurabh are not talking, and the reason is Keshav’s habit of fat-shaming Saurabh’s fiancé, Prerna. Prerna is on the heavier side, and Keshav always finds some reason to take a jab at her weight.

Prerna and Saurabh, on the other hand, are a cheesy and romantic couple. There is probably more love between them than any arranged marriage couple. On Karva Chauth, Prerna decides to fast for Saurabh. She doesn’t eat and drink all day, and in the evening, gets all decked up, waiting for Saurabh to come and help break her fast. Saurabh is supposed to enter from the back gate and meet her on the terrace of her three-story house, but when he finally reaches there, what he sees shocks the life out of him.

This is the story of “One Arranged Murder”; the story of one arranged marriage that eventually becomes one arranged murder.

What to expect?

Expect the same things that you would expect from a regular Chetan Bhagat novel. It does not matter which category of readers you belong to, beginners or regulars, you would mostly be getting the same things out of this novel. Yes, there is a marginal improvement from his previous works, but the word that I would like to stress upon is marginal.

What about the writing style?

The book has all the ingredients of a classic masala drama. It has romance, comedy, murder, action, adventure, family drama, friendships, and light-hearted banter. It has a big Indian joint family that looks picture perfect from the outside, but on the inside, it is brimming with secrets and scheming members. People have corrupt intentions, dirty secrets, personal vendettas, and generations-old grudges.

How good is the pace?

Racy and fast-paced, the book can captivate the reader from the very beginning. For many books, what doesn’t happen till, well, 30% of the book, happens at just 30 pages here. I remember getting sucked into the story and its mystery by the end of the 30th page.

What did I like?

I like the way Chetan experiments with the narration. Throughout the book, it is mostly Keshav who narrates the story, but at times, some characters (like Sourabh and Anjali) tell their own story in some parts. They tell their tales from their point of view and perspectives.

Experimenting with the concept of an unreliable narrator in the first two chapters is also something that I loved. I just hoped Chetan had used it on a bigger scale. The ingenuity of this switch, especially in the beginning, is truly remarkable. In the first chapter, Keshav narrates and makes you form an opinion of Saurabh Then in 2nd chapter, Saurabh assumes the role of narrator, and tells you that he is sure Keshav must have already brainwashed you, he must have told you things, and you must have believed him. This makes the reader have trust issues with the main narrator – the reader is confused as to whose story must be trusted– Keshav’s or Saurabh’s?

The book also provides a running social commentary about things that are wrong with society. Some of the things that the author talks about are – 

(1) Big fat Indian weddings, where people spend lavishly, only to show off, even when the money is tight .

(2) How people cringe at the word dowry, but the same people say ‘sometimes it is not dowry, it is love, isn’t it?’

(3) People holding on to family honor, even when it comes at the cost of justice and 

(4) The tendencies of businesses to work unethically, when they overborrow, speculate, and siphon funds that do not belong to them.