Book Review | Based on Lies: Crimes of Love by Debarshi Kanjilal

Front Cover | Based on Lies: It Begins
Front Cover | Based on Lies: It Begins

Genre: Fiction, Thriller
Format:  Kindle, 
Language: English

Based on Lies: Crimes of Love, a first of the 2-part novella, by Debarshi Kanjilal, is a psychological thriller in which the story unfolds through a series of journal entries by Anurag Sanyal. 

It’s through his journal entries—replete with love, sex, betrayal, lust and crime—that the story moves forward, unveiling the dark and twisted world around him. The narrative revolves around Anurag Sanyal, his wife, Aditi, his ex-girlfriend, Niharika and a local café owner, Sindhu Burah, and the author introduces them in the most matter-of-fact manner: 

"They all have lives of their own, and they all have a life equation with one another. And they each hide secrets darker than the other. They have all been involved in several violent crimes where they are sometimes the victim, sometimes the criminal, and sometimes an accomplice. There are no innocent people."

Anurag Sanyal is the protagonist and an interesting one too. He’s married for five years (though at one place it’s mentioned six!), lives in Calcutta, and maintains a diary. The author doesn’t reveal much about what he does for a living. And, barring the fact that he lost his parents at a young age, we are not informed much about his past either. However, the author does go an extra mile to portray his protagonist as “some heinous super-villain” in the mind of the readers: Anurag is bald, sports a stubble, wears glasses, and has a “vicious cut mark running from about three inches above the left cheek leaving the left eye stitched half shut half open whether sleeping o awake” …and just as you thought it can’t get any scarier, the author adds, “this eye sometimes bleeds” too.

The characters in Debarshi’s novella are tied together by a common thread of lust and betrayal. However, he should be credited for etching out characters which are similar in mind and yet so distinct in their own way. Everyone is either a killer, or a liar, or both. They all have a twisted story, a dark past, and that make for an intriguing plot. In the world of Based on Lies, nobody is spared—even a kid knows how to use a weapon. And the fact that all these criminal minds operate out of Calcutta (the city of joy) is rather ironical.   

There are two things that worked for me the most: a) the pace of the narrative b) the use of elements. Staying true to the genre, psychological thriller, the author manages to keep the tempo of the narrative same in all chapters, throughout the book. While there is not a moment of flourish, there isn’t a dull patch either—the story moves at its own pace which is engaging enough to make you turn to the next page. In addition, the use of imagery is also worth mentioning. The descriptions of the menacing sound of ceiling fan, the dirt-smitten table clock, the mysterious kitchen at the Eastern Delight are so vivid that they add to the eeriness in the mind.  

The ending of the book is open, as Anurag is all set to embark on a new journey. He decides to keep the diary for Aditi to read. What Aditi will do with the diary we don’t know. And what will happen next is left for the readers to imagine… until the second part, Based on Lies: Unhinged, clears the air of doubt.  

Overall, it’s a nice book, well written, and definitely worth a read. 

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