If you exclude all the blogs I’ve been stalking and the occasional e-paper, I haven’t had the time to read much this year. And if it wasn’t for Tanya Pinto Dias, it would have probably stayed that way. Although we met only once during a trip to Sikkim – I in the 10th standard, and she, in probably the 8th, I was surprised when she got in touch and asked me to read her debut novel.
Tanya hails from Dona Paula and her book ‘The Secret of the Sea’ makes a wonderful weekend read. What makes it so special is the fact that the book is amusingly ‘Goan’ from the minute you set your eyes on the first line. It begins with Inspector Cajetan, or Caji, pouring himself a glass of whiskey on the rocks before settling himself into his wicker armchair. It was then that he receives a call from his dim-witted, yet lovable subordinate, Joao, informing him of a murder of a young girl in Morjim.
The duo from the Panjim Police Station tries to uncover the mystery as discreetly as possible, owing to the fact that police from one jurisdiction aren’t supposed to meddle in the affairs of another. The plot is peppered with such hilarious Goan-dialogues that you literally began reading them in the same sing-song tone that you’d hear two aunties talking in, in the market.
As you began flipping, rather, scrolling though the pages, you are drawn into a murder mystery reminiscent of an Agatha Christie Novel. The writing is simple, light and the narration is unique. Every scene resembles life in Goa perfectly, since the author has an uncanny knack for bringing everyday mannerisms to the fore.
The plot moves quickly, but not without offering a huge helping of Goan humour, some tiatr-style mog, and, as many Goans would relate to, a squabble dating back to a couple of generations. That’s just the tip of the iceberg – the book keeps you guessing with every twist and turn until the very end.
Like many mystery novels, the book is unpredictable in many ways, especially the ending. Would I have liked a different ending? Yes. I had grown rather attached to the charming characters and was a tad disappointed when I found out who the perpetrator was. Nevertheless, the Secret of the Sea has an uncommon advantage – it brings out a touch of current environmental issues to the fore, too.
As someone who lives away from Goa for most of the year, I found myself nostalgic on several occasions while reading. I craved a ros omlete, thought of calling a friend just to hear him say “Good one, ah!” and considered making a dish whose recipe Tanya has thoughtfully weaved into the plot.
Grab yourself a copy of The Secret of The Sea on Amazon (Kindle Edition) here: http://amzn.to/2A5Ov1C
Till next time!