Cover Image: Tied to Deceit

Tied to Deceit

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Member Reviews

I found the beginning of this mystery set in India rather confusing, but was pulled into the story when Police Superintendent Sharma came on the scene.  He's a quite likable detective, enough that while this isn't at the top of my mystery list, I will read any potential sequel.
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Thank you to netgalley I received this as an ARC. 
This was a very good Thriller. I enjoyed the mystery aspects as well. There were some moments I felt I wanted more from the story but I still really enjoyed it. I gave it a strong 4 star.
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An enjoyable murder mystery set in India with such a blend of characters you cannot help but love how the plot unravels. Thank you Netgalley for the eARC.
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I found the beginning somewhat pointless since the story never gets back to that timeline. I also did not care for the way it switched from Mrs. Bhardwaj's point of view to Sharma's point of view, it felt awkward. It taught me things I didn't know about India (places, food, dress, etc) and kept me hooked til the end.
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Set in the Himalayan foothills, this murder mystery is the quint essential sleuth detective story with a beautiful backdrop.

As the novel starts out on the balcony of the Bhardwaj’s couple on a gorgeous morning, it develops into a story with detailed background of the family affairs and upbringing of these characters that led their marriage to that day. Not only has their long marriage been rocky, but the drama of inheritance and bitter grief has set a shaky foundation for the “success” they have built. So intertwined and complicated are the relationships to the rest of the family that one could say, hatred that created lies has short legs, because it will always come to light and get you back. 

Sharma, the superintendent of the Police and his co-inspector Rawat are investigating the murder of Devika Singh. Employed by Dr. Bhardwaj at the hospital, she turns out dead, which some say might be the final pay-back for her nasty ways to others. Devika had a reputation for being knifing and rude to others most of her life. A connection that goes back to the Bhardwaj’s family seems at first look to stem from an affair she’s had, but ultimately a twist in the plot changes the entire investigation, but not after another tragic death has occurred. Could this have been avoided? 

A case of family drama, animosities and backstabbing awaits Sharma, but his experience will crack the case old-school. 


My reading experience of this book was that of a long one. Many witness accounts and interviews made it a slow moving process to read through. However, the writing was well done and the curve balls well played. Each chapter began with a famous quote. Each of them rather good. A lot of highlighting in my kindle happened there. I thought they were cleverly placed allowing wordplay to elude to the content of the next chapter. 

This book is promising. The setting is fantastic. I haven’t read a sleuth story in a while. So, if you enjoy them too, I recommend TIED TO DECEIT. 

I received a copy of this novel from Netgalley in exchange of an honest review. All opinions are my own. Thank you kindly.
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Okay this book was better then I expected. I loved all the twists and turns this book delivers. The characters are pretty cool  as well as the setting.
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Did I enjoy this book?  That’s the burning question.

It’s a complex story set in India with a large cast of characters all tied together by one woman, the deceased Devika.  Honestly, I found it hard to care about any of the characters, there was nobody I was rooting for, nobody I hated, nobody I felt sorry for.  That said, the characters are all well described and their back stories are all explained in great detail.  For some reason I just didn’t ‘feel’ for any of them.

The sections of longer dialogue in the book are excellent, I really got into these and gained a sense of how the characters were dealing with Devika’s murder.  The remainder of the dialogue I found to be quite clunky, difficult to read and hard to follow.  The author can certainly tell a story but I personally found there was too much ‘he said’ then ‘she said’ thoughout the book.

The story is a slow burner but really gets going about 40% into the book so stick with it!

Did I enjoy ‘Tied to Deceit’?  Yes.  Regardless of the points in the story where I found the dialogue difficult to follow I found myself wanting to find out who the murderer was.

A solid 3-stars.  Recommended.
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I normally read books set in the UK as I enjoy the familiarity of the places, people, customs etc. However, I really enjoyed this book set in a completely different location as well as time. Lots of suspects to analyse and try and work out 'whodunit'.  I would say if you are like me and are seeking something different from your usual books then give this a go.  A bit slow paced at times but great ending!
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Enjoyable police procedural with a historical perspective on northern India. Interesting characters and plot, Great for people interested in historical and international mysteries.
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I believe this is the author's first novel; let me say that I hope she will write many more. This is more of a slow-paced mystery, but it was a very satisfying read. Set in India, the geography, language and culture all play an important role in the book. Superintendent of Police Vishwanath Sharma is a rather inscrutable, laid-back character, and slowly but surely brings the mystery to an end.
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Devika Singh, a receptionist at the hospital in the town of Sanover, was not the most popular individual. She was having an affair with the chief doctor, she was instrumental in the suicide of a pregnant young girl… pretty much the complete package. So it comes as no particular surprise when she is found murdered.

The Superintendent of Police, Vishwanath Sharma, investigates and soon finds that the list of people with motives is much longer than he anticipates. As he delves into the personal lives of the primary suspects, and the links between them – both open and hidden – it seems that what seemed to be a straightforward case of murder may be far more complex than anyone anticipated…

Another debut novel that I have the pleasure of bringing to your attention via the blog, following Christopher Huang’s A Gentleman’s Murder, and another book that is very much in the style of the classic mystery – hey, that’s in the name of the blog! What a lucky coincidence. And Neena H Brar, just like Christopher Huang, not only lives in Canada but also, and probably more importantly to you, dear reader, is channelling Dame Agatha here, with a fairly finite set of suspects. But while Christopher was going for the puzzle plot with a healthy dose of character, here Neena is balancing the two aspects the other way round – a character-driven novel with a decent puzzle plot. In both cases, the two elements are strong, but the mystery here, while definitely worth your time, is a more straightforward affair. I suppose the best analogy here would be to compare A Gentleman’s Murder to Peril At End House and Tied To Deceit to The Hollow. Both strong books from Dame Agatha, but each with a different emphasis.

The author takes time as the tale develops to build up the atmosphere and the characters and the location – a town in the Himachal Pradesh state of India – makes for an unfamiliar setting for this reader at least, in a similar way to some historical mysteries. One word of advice – my review copy had a glossary at the back of the book which I didn’t discover until I got to the back of the book – I’d suggest the reader use it for some local words whose meanings were unknown to me and that I couldn’t always work out from the context of the text. That’s the problem with review copies – no contents at the beginning to let me know!

All in all, a satisfying debut novel that fans of character-driven mysteries will enjoy a lot. Well Worth A Look.
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I was really looking forward to reading this book that is marketed as 'a remarkable whodunnit' and it is good, it's just quite hard going at times and gosh, but, there are a lot of complex characters to remember.

What I really enjoyed were the quotes at the beginning of each chapter and, don't get me wrong, it's a good read. I just wish I'd come across the Glossary at the back first!

A young woman is found murdered and there are many suspects. It's not easy to guess who the murderer is and that's great. It also has much about Indian culture that was very interesting.

Not fast-moving and you do have to stick with it, but, it's worth it.

Thanks so much to Netgalley and the publishers for the opportunity to preview this book in exchange for my honest review.
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I would like to thank Netgalley and Penguide books for a review copy of Tied to Deceit, a début police procedural set in the town of Sanover, Punjab in the early 1970s.

When Devika Singh is murdered Superintendent Sharma and his trusty sidekick, Sub-Inspector Rawat, are charged with the investigation but it's less than straightforward as the more they investigate the more they realise that Devika kept many secrets and each secret supplies another motive and suspect.

I thoroughly enjoyed Tied to Deceit which is an absorbing read with a good mystery, an interesting victim, an exotic location and a fascinating glimpse of Indian society at the time. It had me hooked from start to finish with the way it is plotted and written. It is not a fast moving book as it relies on Superintendent Sharma's interviews with various characters and his intuition to move forward but every chapter provides a fresh revelation for the reader to ponder and try to fit into their existing knowledge. I like the way it follows a logical, believable path with a mostly linear timeline. The language in the novel can be convoluted at times but I think it strikes the right note for the setting and era.

The novel opens with doctor's wife Gayatri Bhardwaj reflecting back on the murder, a year after it happened. How she is involved quickly becomes apparent and it is a neat touch to start the novel with her thoughts and deductions as it ends in the same way, a nice symmetry when most of the novel is told from Sharma and his investigation's point of view. 

Despite the fact that she is dead Devika Singh is the protagonist in the novel because it is her past and actions which take centre stage and drive Sharma's investigation. Who knew one woman could have so many enemies and leave such a trail of destruction behind her? She was not a nice woman, stunningly beautiful physically she had an ugly personality, being completely self centred. It is fascinating to see how others react to her and much of it rings true in its detail. I was fascinated to see how this wayward woman is condemned by the society of the time as she is too modern for the majority.

Tied to Deceit won't be for every reader but I liked it and have no hesitation in recommending it as a good read.
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4 stars
I would call this a cerebral mystery, in that there is only 1 murder and little violence. Superintendent of Police Vishwanath Sharma is assigned to the murder of Devika Singh in the town of Sanover, Himachal Pradesh, located in the Himalayan foothills. He and Sub-Inspector Arjun Rawat begin a slow, methodical investigation into the murder, interviewing witnesses and building up a portrait of the murdered woman. Devika Singh was a manipulative woman who took advantage of almost everyone that she met. She had many enemies. As Sharma and Rawat begin to piece together clues to her murder, the reader is led down some false paths, but they discover hidden secrets about her and some of her acquaintances. 
I enjoyed this mystery, but it was a little slow at times. I read it in 4 days.
Some quotes:
Sharma's wife describing her husband "Slowly, she had come to terms with the fact that he was not one of those husbands who help with children and other household chores."
Sharma's method "To suspect everything and trust nothing in a murder investigation had always been Sharma's motto in the two decades of his police career." 
Thanks to Penguide Books for sending me this eARC through NetGalley
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Sorry, this one just isn't for me. I found the writing quality quite poor and couldn't continue past chapter two. I won't review the book on Goodreads as I didn't finish.
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This is a copy provided by the publisher and the author in exchange of an honest review. Thank you to them! 

This book was an amazing surprise! I have to tell you that the author captivated my attention since the very begining to the end. The plot structure is one of things that I liked the most, to me a good book has to have these on point like a way to guide my reading.

Another thing I enjoyed was the clues given in a slow and measured way. The whole mystery environment was created around the unveiling gradually which in turn made my reading more addictive. There has not been the typical breakthrough of the development of history, which in my view has become quite a favor in the linear structure of events and as well my immersion in history. The boredom never arose in contrast the complexity was gradually increasing with interaction of the characters thus, demonstrating the density that a good thriller has to cherish.

One of the main characters, the investigator Sharma, was without a doubt one of the great engines for the whole plot. For me it was the character who most fascinated me in the sense of being a totally out of the ordinary investigator, he was aware of his abilities and not arrogant, cautious and not impulsive. More points to that!!

In addition, the author makes the effort to provide an accompaniment through the thought of each character in the unfolding, making everything even more interesting. In this prespective, the characters became more dense and not so artificial, demonstrating their fragilities and fears rather curious.

Regarding the story I found it dense and constantly changing, now I was thinking of a line of reasoning as following everything changed. From part two the story evolves into layers that are explored by the characters. Involved their past, the characters become dense and consequently everything makes this genre of book full of mystery and even more intriguing.

Another aspect that I liked to highlight is the fact that small points of Indian culture were introduced during the plot, so it was very pleasant to contact this dimension making everything even more real and cohesive. In addition, the author made the point of attaching a glossary that allows the reader to find out more about what they are reading about some words that appears. So it was a good idea!

One aspect that I didn't liked so much was the fastest ending, not that it wasn't good, because it was very fascinating! But I felt that I needed more layers to ending the story! Since the whole story was created that way, with density at least the ending should be that way too!

So all the conditions that I said before are reunited and detailed now and I can only say that is definitly a good thriller!!

Highly recomended to all that enjoy reading thriller and mysteries books.

Happy readings, 

Next to a Book!
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How does did it feel to be trapped in the gilded cage of privileged womanhood for women in India in the 1970s? Tied to Deceit provides insight to answers to that question and many more in this thoughtfully crafted murder mystery that pulls double duty as commentary on marriage and gendered expectations in a society that's entrenched in a variety of caste systems. 

My feeling that this engaging title has so much potential to become a more richly developed series made it a 2-star ("worth reading" on my scale) read for me.
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This book is difficult for me to rate. I enjoyed the first half of it immensely. The setting was interesting, and it was nice watch Brar weave Indian culture and words into the story. I liked the idea of a murder mystery with an unsympathetic victim. Devika had wronged so many people that virtually every character was a potential suspect at one point or another.

Some of the major characters were very interesting, particularly Gayatri Bhardwaj, who knows her husband has been carrying on affairs, but reacts with almost indifference, with an astounding level of confidence that none of these mistresses pose any real threat to her marriage.

Brar explores gender issues in the context of Indian culture in the late 60's or perhaps early 70's; the exact time frame was never quite clear to me; some dates in the early sixties were mentioned as having been several years prior. The differential treatment of men and women when it comes to sexual misconduct came up time and time again. Class divides were also integral to the story, and Gayatri is again of particular interest in that regard; she expresses how she feels class can be a double-edged sword even for those in a position of privilege, as it distances her from those around her.

“Being rich and powerful does that to you. You don’t get a chance to offer any clarification because people dare not ask you a thing. They would prefer to hear someone else’s half truth, then make up the other half, and then whisper a twisted version in someone else’s ear. The whole matter gets distorted in no time, so much so, that it no longer resembles the actual facts.”

There was a lot to enjoy in this book, but the second half started to drag. Vishwanath Sharma spends what feels like an excessive amount of time pursuing one particular suspect, on the cusp of solving the mystery. The actual resolution strikes the right balance of surprising while still being somewhat foreshadowed, but it takes too long to get there. The length itself is not necessarily the problem here; this is not an overly long book. However, the amount of time dedicated to one singular focus rather than vacillating between suspects makes it feel longer.

Brar also seemed very invested in driving home just how horrible Devika was, to the point where it began to feel repetitive and drawn-out. One can only read about what a manipulative snake she was so many times before it becomes boring. Personally, I would have appreciated a bit more nuance in her character. Brar does throw in a few things that seem to be an attempt at doing this, but they come so late in the narrative that they felt shoe-horned into it; something about it seemed to lack authenticity, and the overall impression of Devika does not change. She is very one-dimensional and seems to have no redeeming qualities.

Overall, I enjoyed Tied to Deceit, and it was a fairly solid debut novel. Sharma and his assistant have a Sherlock and Watson-esque relationship which is fun to observe. The cultural issues explored added a lot to the story, and the cast of characters was varied and engaging. Fans of the Sherlock stories or Agatha Christie may find this a worthwhile read!

(Please  note: second link provided below for does not yet contain this review. Will be posted between August 6th-11th, once the book is available for purchase.)
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This crime novel was not for me. For my taste it was too slow paced, no suspense at all, no characters to emphasize with, too many descriptions of clothes and furniture.

The story is placed in India 50 years ago, we learn about family structures, arranged marriages, many devorces, greed and jealousy, but it did not touch me.
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This was a very quiet yet satisfying mystery set in a small town in India. When a young woman named Devika is murdered, there are many suspects as she was considered rude and unlikable and was also having an affair with the brilliant doctor for whom she worked. So many people are questioned and many clues are slowly revealed as Sharma and his team work to uncover the circumstances surrounding the murder as well as motives as her life held many secrets unknown to those closest to her. If you enjoy a good literary thriller, this is a lovely one--not as fast-paced as some I've read--but quite a wonderful debut with many facets that will leave you wondering up until the killer is revealed.
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