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Gupta period relived in engaging murder mystery

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Book Review

By C Sharma

“Shadows and Secrets – The Pataliputra Conspiracy” by Harini Srinivasan is a murder mystery set in the Gupta period during the 5th century, when Maharaja Chandragupta II Vikramaditya was the ruler of the Gupta Empire and overseeing its zenith.

A series of shocking murders disrupt the tranquillity of Pataliputra on the eve of the annual Buddhist procession. The victims include unidentified foreigners and members of the city’s social and administrative elite.

The central mystery revolves around uncovering who is behind these murders and why they are occurring. The stakes are high as the city is plunged into darkness, and the normally vibrant atmosphere is overshadowed by fear and uncertainty.

A prominent poet-dramatist and one of the Navaratnas (nine gems) of the kingdom, Mahakavi Kalidasa, utilising his position as head of the state intelligence network, takes charge of the investigation. He enlists the help of an unofficial spy Shaunaka, an observant and idealistic ‘guptachara’, to unravel the mystery. As Shaunaka pursues his secret mission, he encounters real-world complexities such as deception, religious fanaticism, and a century-old secret.

Harini Srinivasan, an ex-civil servant and author, has sketched engaging characters in the backdrop of the Gupta period that add the required pace to the story and add to the intrigue and tension built around the murders. This is her second historical thriller after The Curse of Anuganga.

Overall, the book promises a blend of historical richness, political intrigue, and mystery, making it a compelling read for those interested in a mystery set in ancient India.Top of Form

(C Sharma is a booklover, digital marketer and mother)