Book Mark review: ‘Death Under the Deodars’ by Ruskin Bond

Ruskin Bond is one of the reasons for my I love for the mountains. Travelling amidst such regions, I find myself overwhelmed by the sheer presence of these natural features. Witnesses to the ages of man, his exploits and his endeavours, mountains stand with forbearance and wisdom and exemplify the eternity of these qualities.

Ruskin Bond’s books have this essence as their DNA. In plot and theme, characterisation and dialogue, I always sense that mountainous timelessness. The same goes for Bond’s latest collection of eight short stories titles Death Under the Deodars: The Adventures of Miss Ripley-Bean. Set amidst the lights and shadows of a Mussoorie of the ‘60s in an erstwhile grand hotel, the stories involve feisty crimes and eerie characters. They are all tales witnessed and recounted by Miss Ripley-Bean, a permanent resident at the hotel.

There is a body in a box bed, a mysterious black hound, a man born with an evil inclination to burn everything down and adultery. Each tale employs a sinister occurrence and leaves the reader waiting for the conclusion to reveal itself.

The elderly crème de menthe- drinking Miss Ripley-Bean; her Tibetan terrier Fluff; Nandu, the hotel’s owner and a young Mr Lobo, the hotel pianist; are the constants through the book. They take the reader through each mysterious tale. Each narrative gives you the feeling of sitting in front of the raconteur and listening to it at first hand.

Make this book your weekend companion, with some warm tea, and treat yourself to Bond’s tryst with the macabre along with his characteristic wit and turn of phrase. Buy this book and bring home a bit of the mountains.

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