Case No 56 by Chandrashekar Nagawaram

Case No. 56 by Chandrashekar Nagawaram

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Reading Time: 3 minutes

Detective novels are something that I am not familiar with, but I seem to like them the more I read. While I read a couple of James Hadley Chase novels a few years ago, Sir Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes series was my true exposure to the genre. While I’ve been in awe of Sherlock Holmes, Amar Sagar from Case No. 56 seemed more relatable. Chandrashekar Nagawaram’s debut novel is almost like a classic thriller movie. It takes you from one scene to the other, building tension gradually before a mind-blowing climax.

Summary of Case No. 56

Case No. 56 revolves around a mysterious death of Kishore, the business manager of the Shinde family. The Shinde clan is a powerful business family in Hyderabad, with their clutches deeper in the system than what appears. The body found dead on the terrace of the family’s mansion leaves everyone guessing. And to solve the mystery, head of the family Mrs Thilothama Shinde, summons renowned detective, Amar Sagar.

The death seems like an accident on the face, and nothing present indicates towards foul play. However, as Amar delves deeper into the accident, he opens the pandora’s box! Possibility of murder surfaces and all the family members are under suspicion. Including Thilothama Shinde, the matriarch of the family. As the mystery unfolds, we witness the dark side of the business family, quite reminiscent of most high-profile families in the metro cities.

The climax, however, is one of the best that I have come across so far in detective novels. It is totally unexpected, and when just as I read who the murder was, I realized the clues were there throughout the story. Now that’s the work of an intelligent writer.

While this is Chandrashekar’s debut novel, I am pretty sure that he will continue the legacy of Amar, and his next book will feature him again. In fact, there is a huge scope to build the character further. What’s his backstory? Why did he choose to become a detective? How he met SP James? I really want to find the answers to these and many other questions.

Moreover, in the end, Amar chooses moral justice over the word of law. This is something I find lacking is a lot of thrillers, and want someone to explore. May be Amar could become a detective who believes more in morality rather than sticking to what’s legal and what’s not.

Introduction of Amar Sagar

The protagonist, Amar, is an engineer-turned-detective, who just begins to make into the headlines. He is a simple, smart, and intelligent guy, with an understated demeanour. While I smelled some inspiration from Sherlock Holmes, he seemed to be more like the advanced version of Byomkesh Bakshi. What this means is that instead of deep analytical research and studies, the detective here relies more on instinct and deductions.

While this is Chandrashekar’s debut novel, I am pretty sure that he will continue the legacy of Amar, and his next book will feature him again. In fact, there is a huge scope to build the character further. What’s his backstory? Why did he choose to become a detective? How he met SP James? I really want to find the answers to these and many other questions.

Moreover, in the end, Amar chooses moral justice over the word of law. This is something I find lacking is a lot of thrillers, and want someone to explore. May be Amar could become a detective who believes more in morality rather than sticking to what’s legal and what’s not.

Inadequate Characterization

While I have no major criticisms for the novel, Case No. 56 certainly lacks in terms of characterization. Yes, there are enough characters, but they lack weight. Except for the Amar Sagar and Anitha Shinde, none of the characters have an arc big enough to make them interesting. I really wish I had more to read about Nikhil or even Nanditha, whom I felt were wasted. Even the victim Kishore didn’t have enough background.  

However, the most under-utilized character was that of Ishanth Shinde. I seriously think that he could’ve had done with some more meat, some more space. This exposes the lack of detailing in the novel, which I left me wanting for more.

Language & Readability

The language of Case No. 56 is quite simple and digestible, even for beginners. The use of words and sentences even for describing complex situations is very easy and doesn’t hamper your experience even for a moment. However, I personally found it too simple, especially after reading heavy literature like The White Tiger and 1984. It is so simple, that experienced readers would want it to be a bit more layered. Also, the book I just under 180 pages in length, which makes it a quick read. I read it in a couple of days, and I think most readers will complete it in 3-4 days. In short, it’s simple, easy, and digestible. Much like a popcorn thriller movie!

Ranking: 3/5

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