Music, Myth and Mystery
Ann Susan Aleyas
RAAGAM TAANAM PALLAVI: A LALLI MYSTERY by Kalpana Swaminathan Speaking Tiger Books, 2021, 312 pp., 499.00
December 2021, volume 45, No 12

Raagam Taanam Pallavi is a recent addition to Kalpana Swaminathan’s books of detective fiction which includes other works such as Cryptic Death and Other Stories (1997), Pa (2003), The Page 3 Murders (2006), Greenlight (2017) and Murder in Seven Acts (2018). As the cover page suggests, the present novel is ‘A Lalli Mystery’; the lead character of this novel is Lalli, a sexagenarian detective who has been a recurring figure in seven of Kalpana Swaminathan’s previous works since 1997. Apart from Lalli, other characters such as Inspector Shukla, Savio, the police officer, and forensic analyst Dr. Q, all reappear in this novel along with the familiar narrative voice of Lalli’s companionate niece and novelist, Sita. As the author has commented elsewhere in an interview, ‘Recurring characters grow. They reveal new personality traits, likes, passions, despairs and disappointments.’ In Raagam Taanam Pallavi, one sees this evolution especially in Lalli’s character as it delves deeper into the personal life and experience of Lalli, giving the character a depth which may have been well desired by fans of Lalli’s previous adventures. However, a new entrant to Swaminathan’s oeuvre need not worry for want of familiarity with these characters; the present novel serves well as an independent point of entry to Lallis’ world.

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