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Book Review: Magic Square by Salini Vineeth

Magic Square is a mystery novella by Salini Vineeth. Despite the book being short in length, it is a terrific read and the author has made all aspects looked equally distributed with an élan. The story is staged against the prominent places of South India. As we get into the novel, we get introduced to Amuda, our main character. The author has put in brilliant efforts to transform this ‘once pessimistic character’ into the ‘driving force’ of the novel. While reading this book, it is evident to feel that the mystery is solved by a common human being, rather than by a great or larger-than-life character, the kind of characters we see in Colin Dexter, Daniel Silva and Robert Galbraith books. As a matter of fact, a great aspect.

By all angles of semblance, Amuda is a simple girl pursuing PHD in Bangalore. She has opted for PHD when she failed to grab a job after doing M.Tech. Nevertheless, she knows that she is meant for something great in her life, though she remains in dilemma as what to do or where to start. Probably, at this time, when she gets bored by Prof. Murthy, she is looking for some kind of escapade or an opportunity to do something uncharacteristic. She is a bit negative thinker owing to her grooming and family history, but it never occurred to her that she is meant for warts-and-all jobs. In a sense, her character is slightly dynamic and unstable.

What we see next, is another character Dheeraj, classmate of Amuda. They are friends and to some extent have crush on each other… but not sure of the outcome. Dheeraj hates Prof. Murthy, who keeps assigning him frustrating assignments one after another. One day Dheeraj gets a mathematics assignment and he has no idea how and where to start from. He is rather clueless. Next, Amuda takes him to a book store where he stumbles upon an old book of discreet mathematics. That book seems to be a relief for his problems. However, Amuda notices that there is a poem scribbled at the back cover of the book. The poem is about the love for Tamil language and it was by someone named ‘L V Sreenivasan’ written in February of 1965. Amuda feels captivated by that poem and decides to uncode it. But how? She wants to find out about that person L V Sreenivasan and his life story. Could there be any riveting story waiting to be heard? Well, Dheeraj discourages her to leave it and just before Christmas vacation he leaves for vacation in North India. Amuda is now alone and she has to unravel this mystery…more for herself than for someone else.

Without giving away much, we express that the novella is a gripping one. The story is fast-paced; one clue after another will make you stick to it until you get over it. Surprisingly, there aren’t many ‘under suspect’ characters and still by the way of impressive narration the author has managed to win our hearts. Well edited and well written as a first-time writer, Salini has given immense hope and inevitably made a promise to her growing reader base. Convincingly, it is a fantastic read with five out of five stars.


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