Book Review: The Tree Bears Witness by Sharath Komarraju

The Tree Bears Witness by Sharath Komarraju is a mystery novel and the hero is none other Birbal: a household name in India. The Tree Bears Witness is a sequel to ‘A Birbal Mystery’. After getting a place in the royal court and becoming a confidant of the Emperor, Birbal gets a chance to use his wits to solve another mystery again.

A few days passed since the marriage of Akbar with the Rajput princess Jodha and tragedy strikes in the form of the death of prince Sujjamal in the palace gardens. It is openly known that where Jodha loves her brother deeply, Akbar finds Sujjamal to be a traitor. When the death of Sujjamal indirectly points to him, Akbar gets worried about his growing distance with Jodha and the unrest within the Rajput community. He summons Birbal and asks him to solve the mystery within two days.

According to the two guards who were patrolling the garden; during the late night, the young prince walked into the garden and roamed around the fountain which was located between two mango trees as though he was waiting for someone. After a couple of minutes the guards hear a yell and by the time they could reach the prince he was dead with a knife plunged into his heart behind one of the mango trees. Both the guards have two different opinions of what might have happened but it was clear that there was no murderer lurking around.

Birbal sharpens his wits and vows to find out the truth when one of the two guards; the old and loyal Azgher was arrested for the death of the prince to subdued the uproar. As the investigation progresses he finds confusing clues and many suspects with motives. His trust becomes shaken when he discovers the innocent guard turns out to be the one who tampered evidence. With the time running and motives multiplying Birbal realizes the only witness to the murder is the tree.

This mystery is too based on the lines of Bernard Cornwell’s favourite hero: Sharp. The plot is so tightly packed and moving that readers will not feel the lightness of the language used by the writer.