Title: Tree Bears Witness
Author: Sharath Komarraju
Sharath Komarraju’s ‘Tree Bears Witness’ is the second book in the Birbal Mystery series. However, this novel easily stands alone without the first-time reader of the series having to worry about missing out on the first book.
Set in the golden age of the Mughals, the novel revolves around the royal court of Agra. There’s political intrigue, personal enmities, and hidden rivalries and everyone is a suspect until proven otherwise in the court of Akbar the Great.
The plot is set with the royal marriage having taken place and Akbar returning to his palace with his newly wedded wife and princess of the Rajput Empire, Jodha. She has brought with her a royal retinue. The days should have followed in celebrations but sadly Sujjamal, Jodha’s brother, is found murdered in the palace gardens. The murder has taken place at a spot between two mango trees in a garden and the two guards, who are eyewitnesses, have conflicting versions of what could have happened. With his honour and reputation at stake, Akbar asks his trusted advisor Birbal to solve the mystery.
Nicely edged characters, perfectly choreographed events, and clipped narration make this otherwise linear plot a good read, interesting even. This whodunit never becomes boring and the reader would definitely follow Birbal’s investigation with bated breath until he draws the curtain on the probe at the end of the novel. There are times when it becomes evident who the culprit may be. But at the end it doesn’t matter much because the execution of the investigation itself is interesting to follow.
Komarraju has managed a perfect novel for lovers of classic mysteries who’d like to watch a clever and introspective detective solve a tricky puzzle.
Sharath Komarraju is an author of fiction and nonfiction based in Bengaluru, India. His best known work (to date) is the Hastinapur series, in which he speaks into the silences of the Mahabharata story through the voices of the epic’s many women characters. His first novel, Murder in Amaravati, was longlisted for the Commonwealth Book Prize, 2013.
Once a software engineer, he now tells stories full-time. When he is not writing or reading, he can be found watching cricket on television, talking to his wife, or munching on the nearest chocolate bar.
I'd like to thank the publisher for letting me review the book. I do hope you end up liking the book when you read it. Thank you so much for stopping by, and happy reading!
* I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
** Picture courtesy: Amazon.in