Friday, October 23, 2009

Review: A Circle of Souls by Preetham Grandhi

All I can say is Wow!  Anyone who knows me can tell you that I don't normally read scary stories, stories about child murders, and I normally shun anything that is about the "paranormal."  So why am I reading so many of them lately?  A Circle of Souls was sent to my by the author Dr. Preetham Grandhi back in July and I'm ashamed that I haven't gotten to it sooner.  It's a winner!

I've finished it, and I'm not quaking in my boots, and I don't think I'm going to have nightmares.  While the subject matter is unpleasant, the writing is so crisp, clear and centered on the good guys that it quickly becomes a real page turner.

This debut book is extremely well-written, has a tightly woven plot, and well-developed characters.  Beginning with seemingly separate stories: a brutally murdered young girl and another young girl with hellacious nightmares, the author moves us inexhorably toward the meeting of these two separate stories and blends them believably into one.  In the beginning,  there are no clues to the murder, and no reason (either physical or mental) for the nightmares, but they are related, and the pychiatrist treating the young nightmare victim intuits their relationship from drawings made by his patient.  As he searches for the meaning of her drawings, and recognizes the locale in the pictures, he anguishes over how to help his patient and whether he should share his intuitions with the special FBI agent who has been called in to help local police investigate the case.

This is not a normal murder mystery suspense thriller.  The characters are the strong point in this story: even the bad guys are well developed, with sound background and motivation presented to pull the reader in.  There is a large dose of the paranormal entwined with Indian cultural traditions, and Jamaican/West African folklore.  There are several side issues and players building enough doubt in the reader's mind to make it interesting and challenging to figure out 'whodunit.'

It was written in short chapters that encouraged the reader to read 'just one more' before putting the book down, and in the end, to just continue reading to the climax.  Let's hope that Preetham Grandhi has more such well-written tales up his sleeve. 

Just a note:  I find it fascinating that two of the best books I've read this year are debut crime stories written by doctors...the other was "Wife of the Gods" by Dr. Kwei Quartey.  We may not be able to read their prescriptions, but their books are great.

Edited later to add a note:  I just found out that A Circle of Souls has just been announced as the winner of the General prize for Fiction in the 6th Annual National Best Books Awards sponsored by USA Book News. Congratulations to Dr. Grandhi.  It's nice to know others thought as much of this book as I did.


  1. gosh..I have this book in my read but un-reviewed pile...mostly because I was not at all impressed by it.
    well, to each their own. ;-)

  2. That's a great review! I haven't heard of this one before, I'll look out for it.

  3. Great review-I will put this on my wishlist.

    thanks for the review.


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