When Krishna Calls (Anita Ray)
by Susan Oleksiw
Review by Mel Jacob
Five Star Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781432832254
Date: 17 August 2016 List Price $25.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Links: Author's Website /
Anita Rey, photographer and part-time sleuth, investigates the mystery surrounding the murder of an employee's husband and becomes enmeshed in the illegal business of money lending in Southern India. She discovers her aunt mortgaged their home, Hotel Delight, and may lose it. Soon, Anita's investigation makes her a target of the feuding moneylenders.
She tries to locate the wife, a sometime employee of the hotel, who fled after the killing of her husband and left her daughter at the hotel. Anita is certain of the woman's innocence while the police believe she committed the murder. At the same time Anita is also trying to prepare for an important gallery showing of her work. Anita has a strong sense of justice and is spurred by injustice.
Someone replaced the memory card in her camera. She wants to know who and why. Eventually she traces the card to a relative of dead man's wife. The original card contains her latest pictures, some of which are needed for the exhibition.
At first, the images on the wrong card appear to be pictures of men talking or meeting. However, one photo includes a blurry image of her aunt. When Anita confronts her, she discovers the existence and amount of the moneylender's loan on the hotel. Her wandering cousin, currently in American had written to her mother asking for large sums of money. Horrified and with no hope of earning the money to repay the note, Anita sets out to find another means to clear the debt.
Meanwhile, one of the moneylenders has located the missing wife and is holding her prisoner. Cruel and determined, the moneylender applies pressure to the woman. Her stepson also disappeared, but Anita finds him with his aunt.
She gains information from the stepson and daughter. Using clues from photographs on the strange card, she locates the house in the pictures and the owner. Gradually she develops a plan that puts her in the middle of the feud between competing moneylenders and endangers her life.
Oleksiw excels in providing plenty of local color and insights into the lives of ordinary Indians and those who prey upon them. One can almost feel the heat and humidity of Southern India just before the monsoon. The setting and Anita makes this series different from many cozys. The author relies on photographer Anita's sharp eyes and her ability to take a variety of information bits from unlikely places and assemble them into a satisfying whole. This is the fourth Anita Ray mystery. She also writes another series featuring Police Chief Joe Silva.