Introduction: Death under the Deodars
It was death at first sight . . .Miss Ripley-Bean was sitting on a bench beneath the deodars, having a quiet moment to herself, when suddenly two shadows, larger than life, appeared on the outside wall; they were struggling with each other. Only afterwards, when a dead body was discovered, did Miss Ripley-Bean realize she had witnessed a murder – and that the murderer had seen her . . .In this marvellous collection of brand-new stories set in the Mussoorie of a bygone era, Ruskin Bond recounts the deliciously sinister cases of a murdered priest, an adulterous couple, a man who is born evil and the body in the box bed; not to forget the strange happenings involving the arsenic in the post, the strychnine in the cognac, a mysterious black dog and the Daryaganj strangler. As the elderly Miss Ripley-Bean, her Tibetan terrier Fluff, her good friend Mr Lobo, the hotel pianist and Nandu, the owner of the royal, mull over the curious murders, the reader will be enthralled and delighted – until the murderer is finally revealed.
Review – Death under the Deodars
Ruskin Bond the greatest painter of mountains with his words, in my opinion, has produced another gem from his pen. After reading his books I decided to visit Mussoorie and travelling there I found myself overwhelmed by the grandiose of the natural features. Bond exploits and his work stand with the wisdom and eternity of mountain. Ruskin Bond’s books have this essence as their DNA. In plot and theme, characterisation and dialogue, I always sense that mountainous timelessness. The same goes for Bond’s latest collection of eight short stories titles Death under the Deodars: The Adventures of Miss Ripley-Bean. Set amidst the lights and shadows of a Mussoorie of the ‘60s in an erstwhile grand hotel, the stories involve feisty crimes and eerie characters. They are all tales witnessed and recounted by Miss Ripley-Bean, a permanent resident at the hotel. In this marvellous collection of brand-new stories set in the Mussoorie of a bygone era, Ruskin Bond recounts the deliciously sinister cases of a murdered priest, an adulterous couple, a man who is born evil and the body in the box bed; not to forget the strange happenings involving the arsenic in the post, the strychnine in the cognac, a mysterious black dog and the Daryaganj strangler. There is a body in a box bed, a mysterious black hound, a man born with an evil inclination to burn everything down and adultery. Each tale employs a sinister occurrence and leaves the reader waiting for the conclusion to reveal itself. The elderly crème de menthe- drinking Miss Ripley-Bean; her Tibetan terrier Fluff; Nandu, the hotel’s owner and a young Mr Lobo, the hotel pianist; are the constants through the book. They take the reader through each mysterious tale. Each narrative gives you the feeling of sitting in front of the raconteur and listening to it at first hand. It’s a no brainer really but I loved the writing. It is by no means Bond’s best work, no. But it is still lovely. The setting of this book is perfect, to me at least! Mussoorie, an old hotel from the times of the Raj and murder and mystery and eeriness in the air. What’s not to love?! Miss Ripley-Bean is a gem of a character. She is elderly but sharp and insightful and notices everything that goes on around her. Yet she is no Miss Marple, she doesn’t go out of her way to solve crimes or investigate sticky situations. She just is. And she is wonderful. I really hope there are more stories about her in the future. The stories in this book are fairly varied. Some are outright murder mysteries while others are some slight observations about people and situations. This was such a comforting and soothing read, this is something I expect from all of Ruskin Bond’s books and this one was not lacking in this department at all. Certain characters are recurring in the stories, Miss Bean herself but also Mr. Lobo- the pianist at the hotel and the owner of the hotel- Nandu. All of these characters are well crafted and fleshed out superbly. They are also immensely likeable.
Name: Death under the Deodars
Author: Ruskin Bond
Date of publishing: 14th November 2016
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