Is it better to let sleeping dogs lie? It certainly does make life easier, I suppose. Archana Sarat’s latest thriller titled ‘Sleeping Dogs’ introduces Aarna, a 21-year-old girl who lost her mother, Devika, when she was young. “I have always lived with my mother in my imagination.” Aarna’s words wring the heart especially because she lives with her maternal grandparents in Chennai in a home that has no traces of her mother, not even a photograph.
Suddenly she receives a summons from her father, who is living with his second wife. A reluctant Aarna makes her way to Mumbai and almost immediately, gets embroiled in her own investigation of her mother’s suicide.
Why does Aarna have horrific nightmares about her mother who died twelve years ago? Even worse, why are there huge gaps in her childhood memories? Why is the girl’s relationship with her father, Yugan, strained? Even as Aarna goes for professional counselling, she strives to connect the dots in her life in a logical fashion. As her psychologist advises her, “Listen to stories and you will discover the truth.” She is no pushover, as is proved by the determined way she goes about trying to solve the mystery that has consumed her childhood.
Archana Sarat is a gifted writer. The way she intertwines the past and the present through the accounts of Devika and Aarna forms the main narrative of the book. These are helped along with the bits of information the latter pieces together, like a jigsaw puzzle, at the end of which the daughter has a clear idea about the intriguing personality of her mother.
The book deals hints at issues like parental responsibility, sexual misdemeanour, the importance of consent in relationships and professional impropriety. The narrative is fast-paced and gripping, and as the mystery comes to an end and the final piece of the jigsaw is placed on the board, the reader sits back with the satisfaction of a tale well told.
The cover image is mystical, vibrant in its hues, eye-catching in its detail. ‘Sleeping Dogs’ from the Readomania stable lives up to the promise of the earlier novel by Archana Sarat, ‘Birds of Prey’ which is now a major web series featuring ex-ACP, Anton Pinto, who makes an appearance in this book as well.