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Sheila Kumar's Storehouse

Published on: 07/30/15 2:52 PM


Book review: Stellar Signs by Manjari Prabhu

Stellar Signs byManjiri Prabhu (Jaico Books).

I must admit I picked up the book with some amount of trepidation; me, I`m no fan of whodunits and I don`t repose too much confidence in astrology, either. And this is a book about Sonia Samarth, our desi Nancy Drew, who mixes sound common sense and sharp detection skills with a large dose of yep, astrology. Voila, cases solved.

But, famous last words,  et al.

Before I knew it, I was in the game, guessing and second-guessing Sonia`s moves every step of the way. The comely lass runs her own outfit, the Stellar Investigations Detective Agency in Pune, has a young (male) sidekick who comes off as a neat foil to his boss , loves her adopted cat Nidhi; the neighbourhood cops are all friendly and supportive, her male admirer (Ned to Nancy?) is a journalist who hangs out with her pretty much most of the time, and the cherry on the icing is the Owl, her secret admirer who may or may not be a crook, a tantalizing presence in Sonia`s life.

Apparently, this is the second book in the author`s astro-detective series. Here, Sonia solves a number of mysteries and while the twists and turns are neither complex nor convoluted, they hold enough details to, in turn, hold the reader`s interest.

A young woman`s death which could either be a murder or a suicide; the strange case of two actors dying onstage; some adept astrochart reading on a train journey that helps stop a murder before it can be committed; the disappearance of some statues, a wife and child from the house of a wealthy businessman; a beautiful jewel thief who manages to grab the loot and run; the apparently straightforward death of a famous classical singer which his wife finds mysterious, even sinister; the find of a trove of love letters that tells of an abortive affair…Sonia strides in gracefully and manages to solve them all.

Prabhu`s style is simple, direct, and it works; she has a yarn to spin and does so without any fanfare. The reader gets to travel places with the pretty gumshoe, witness Ganapati puja with her, eat a Karjat special batata wada, visit the Pataleshwar Caves, and generally have fun.


desi Nancy DrewManjari PrabhuStellar Signswhodunit

Sheila Kumar • July 30, 2015

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  1. Siri June 2, 2023 - 11:34 pm Reply

    The book was a good light read, I loved the way Pune was described. However I’m still unclear as to what happened to “The Owl” Varun Thakar. I was very sure there was a twist coming after the way the 1st book ended on the owl.. I don’t like being left in the dark like this, lol.

  2. Siri Gowri June 3, 2023 - 2:20 pm Reply

    This is a good book, perfect for anyone looking for a light read. However what happened to Varun Thaker “the owl”? Looks like there are only 2 books, and there is no ending? The owl bit seemed to have a twist coming, but instead we are left in the dark. Lol

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