The Gypsies at Noelle’s Retreat- A Riva Parker Mystery
Authored By: Manjiri Prabhu
Publisher: Times Group Books
Released in: June, 2013
Move aside Nancy Drew, Agatha Christie and the likes. Here comes our very own desi sleuth Riva Parker who is also the lead singer and guitarist of the band ‘Gypsies’.
She along with her two BFFs Trish and Timsi are invited to the Noelle’s retreat in Giverney, a picturesque and artistic town close to Paris to perform. They set out to have fun but the trip has more in store for them when Riva realises that all is not well at the retreat as expected. The events start unfolding on the day of their first performance when her guitar strings go missing. This is followed by another surprising turn of events including hideous caricatures of the residential artists, stolen items and even an attempted murder. All this leads Riva to believe that someone is determined to believe that there is something more to what meets the eye. That’s when the young detective steps in with her amazing abilities of intuition and reasoning to save the day and of course succeeds. Not to forget, also meets her Knight in shining armour at the end of it.
The story is a chick-lit filled with desi-masala ingredients. It is a linear narrative with a good mix of mystery, budding romance and even elements of a travelogue via a treasure hunt that describes Paris beautifully. The teenagers would like it especially as they could easily relate to any of the three characters; the intelligent and pretty plump Riva, the tomboyish Trish or the pretty blonde Timsi. The book makes a genuine attempt in incorporating several twists and turns and what ensues is a roller-coaster ride of the lives of several individuals who are constantly having a tussle within themselves between the right and wrong. Throughout, the novel keeps you on your toes and you end up playing the guessing game and a confusing one at that. As the genre demands, the novel ends with a happy ending.
The problem is that the very base is a little faulty. The Retreat apparently houses only renowned artists. Therefore, it is difficult to fathom how they would invite amateurs like the ‘Gypsies’ for entertainment. It has also been stated that Noelle called Riva to solve the crime from India to France for her sleuthing skills but that sounds a bit far-fetched too. If only, the author would have given some kind of early reference to her abilities, it would have sounded more convincing. Somewhere, even the sketching of the rest of the characters seemed slightly half-baked. Especially, the painter Pierre’s role in the entire turn of events seemed rather unpersuasive.
However, overall the author has managed to keep up the tempo and engross you throughout. Definitely, a one-time good read!