Bollywood Storm: Book I: New York

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EFG Publishing, Apr 11, 2015 - Fiction - 286 pages
1 Review

Bollywood Storm is a lyrical and mystical murder mystery, set in Bollywood-style.

With a dash of Kill Bill thrown in, this novel will not disappoint those readers expecting action; it’s also a meditation on self, identity, ego, intimacy, sensuality, spirituality, privilege and loss; and it’s got five song and dance numbers in it, too.

The mazza of this story unfolds in two Books, spanning two continents


Elanna Forsythe George is a Boston born, New York forensic scientist who takes on only cold cases, stone cold dead cases. She solves mysteries in unusual ways with her accidentally acquired, para-mystical abilities. Her cases come to her a few years after high-powered mainstream investigations, police and legal proceedings have all failed, and there's a dead end. But she doesn't take every case. 


Book I: New York Elanna is hired by the Bollywood starlet Simryn Gill to reopen the case of Rajesh Sharma, a Bollywood director who died of a supposed heart attack two years previous. Although it appears a simple heart attack, there is no drama, no gossip and no controversy anywhere in the Bollywood media. Somewhere, in that odd, conspicuous silence, Elanna smells a big rat.

 

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Bollywood Storm, Book I: New York, by N K Johel,
is, as the title suggests, the first book of a two-book novel. It features Elanna Forsythe George, a tough, canny New York forensic scientist who
solves crimes in a very unorthodox way. She employs her psychic powers to travel to and commune with other spiritual dimensions. She is, in her own words, a “psycho-phenomenic gangbuster. A nether-worldly cowboy.” She has the unique power to become beings from these other planes of existence. They possess her and tell her what she needs to know in order to solve crimes. Or do they? For even spirits can sometimes deceive.
Rajesh Sharma, a very wealthy and powerful Bollywood director, dies suddenly of a mysterious heart attack. Then, one by one, his illegitimate children start turning up dead, also under suspicious circumstances. To solve these mysteries, Elanna delves into the dark underbelly of greed, corruption and ruthless ambition lurking beneath Bollywood’s glitz and glamor. In the process, she is drawn into the lush, dizzying worlds of South Asian and Native American spiritualities, the paranormal, shamanism, and much more.
As one of the characters tells Elanna,”We desi’s (natives of India)don’t tell a story straight out. We don’t want to miss any details. Therefore, we must tell each story slowly. With flavor. With flourish. Capturing every nuance.” In keeping with this tradition, Johel often takes leisurely excursions to describe in sensuous detail such flourishes as the taste of chocolate or Elanna’s rituals of bathing or dressing for a Bollywood premiere. To some Western readers used to quicker-paced mysteries, such passages may take some getting used to. But it’s important to keep in mind that Bollywood Storm is not your standard whodunit mystery but rather a journey into mysterious worlds. Johel does an admirable job in capturing the fleeting textures, nuances, tastes, smells, and sounds of these worlds as Elanna winds her way through them. And these excursions are more than compensated for with frequent moments of heart-pounding action and suspense. It’s fascinating being introduced to a different narrative style than one is used to, particularly in a mystery. This different style only adds to the book’s exotic allure.
If I have any criticism of the book, it is that a glossary or index of terms and of characters’ names would have come in very handy. As one would expect, the vocabulary is quite exotic, and although Johel is careful to define and describe these terms and names with their first appearance in the text, I found myself often leafing back through already-read pages to refresh my memory. But this is a minor quibble. And a sense of disorientation is not always a bad thing.
More than anything else, this book reminded me of a Bollywood musical, which is appropriate, given the title and subject matter. Like the musicals, Book I is a rich, spicy masala of action, suspense, noir crime thriller, music, song, dance, comedy and romance, the paranormal and various religious and spiritual traditions, all painted in a full multicultural palette, to keep readers fully entertained.
This being the first book of a two-book novel, no mysteries are fully resolved or explained here, but enough tantalizing clues are dropped along the way to keep the reader eager to follow Elanna as she leaves, at the end of the book, for further crime-solving adventures in Mumbai.
Jim Bratone
 

Contents

Prologue
1
The Call
3
The White Goddess 1
15
The Falls 2 5
25
Bhujangen in Buffalo
41
Murder Roses 5 5
55
Zeke at the Teahouse
69
The Sun
87
Red Carpet
155
Bollywood Knights Bollywood Daze
173
Sight of Day
195
Bollywood Knights Bollywood Daze Part 2
199
Love Springing from the Intellect
209
The Chamcha
227
King of Kings
239
The Moon
263

Sargeant Martins Last Stand
99
Special Delivery
117
Bicky
129
Sisters 1 41
141
Coming Attractions
283
Credits
285
Copyright

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About the author (2015)

N.K. Johel is a third generation Sikh-Canadian as her grandfather - born in the 1860's or so - emigrated to North America during the first decade of the twentieth century. Yet, due to many complex historical happenings, she did not begin to learn English until she started primary school.


She gravitated to art, music, writing and theatre during her school years in Lake Cowichan. As a young adult, she moved to Nanaimo to study theatre at Vancouver Island University, then to Vancouver to study painting and fine arts at Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design. Her interest in literature developed informally. She credits Toni Morrison's Jazz and Michael Ondaatje's Running In The Family as the works that rekindled her interest in writing.

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