Title: A Circle of Souls
Author: Preetham Grandhi
Genre: Fiction, Psychological Thriller
Pub date: June 2009, Sweetwater Books
ARC, 339 pages
Book source: Mr. Grandhi (kind thanks for the review copy!)
The sleepy town of Newbury, Connecticut, is shocked when a little girl is found brutally murdered. The town's top detective, perplexed by a complete lack of leads, calls in FBI agent Leia Bines, an expert in cases involving children.
Meanwhile, Dr. Peter Gram, a psychiatrist at Newbury's hospital, searches desperately for the cause of seven-year-old Naya Hastings' devastating nightmares. Afraid that she might hurt herself in the midst of a torturous episode, Naya's parents have turned to the bright young doctor as their only hope.
The situations confronting Leia and Peter converge when Naya begins drawing chilling images of murder after being bombarded by the disturbing images in their dreams. Amazingly, her sketches are the only clues to the crime that has panicked Newbury residents. Against her better judgment, Leia explores the clues in Naya's crude drawings, only to set off an alarming chain of events.
I am always interested in a good mystery or thriller, so when Mr. Grandhi contacted me about reviewing his debut book, I didn't hesitate to accept the offer. I'm happy to say that I was not disappointed!
Perhaps what impressed me the most about this book was the level of detail that Mr. Grandhi included, yet wrote it in a way that does not bog down the reader. His background in child psychology is obvious and makes this story that much more intriguing and intense. He has a great ability to write the story from a child's perspective when necessary and his own love of children is evident--he really writes those elements of the book with great care. So in A Circle of Souls, instead of finding a story that proves cold and cynical as is so typical with crime novels, Mr. Grandhi has managed to inject a lot of heart and soul into the story. Leia Bines, Peter Gram, and the various law enforcement officials are all warm beings with a strong desire to help and protect children.
More than a crime novel, A Circle of Souls also has paranormal and spiritual elements, as a young girl's dreams end up being clues to solve a brutal murder of another child. Here, Grandhi turns to Indian beliefs in the role of the soul and predestination, among other traditions. It truly makes for a fascinating read and a bit of insight into the Indian culture.
In the end I didn't have a very difficult time concluding who the murderer was, but Grandhi's writing keeps you turning the pages to see everything resolved. The chapters are generally short and shift the focus back and forth between the two converging storylines, which is a great momentum-builder. I really thought that A Circle of Souls was a great debut novel and I look forward to seeing what Mr. Grandhi has to offer in the future.
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