Book Review: Ithalar Tea Party

Author Akshath Jaganmohan | Genre Crime Fiction | Originally published 4 January 2021 | Publisher Readen Publishers | Page Count 240

Sometimes, it’s better if we don’t know much about the author before reading his book. This helps in reading the book without prejudice or pre-conceived notions. Ithalar Party is one such book. The reason for the same is that the author Akshath Jaganmohan is just thirteen years old. Becoming a published author at such a young age is a big achievement in itself. Kuddos to Akshath for giving wings to his imagination and coming up with an interesting story!

The book is inspired by the Boston Tea Party. For those who don’t know about this historical event, the Boston Tea Party was one of the key events leading up to the American Revolution. It was a political protest that occurred on December 16, 1773, in Boston. American colonists were frustrated and angry at Britain for imposing ‘taxation without representation’. They considered it a violation of their rights. To mark their protest, they destroyed an entire shipment of tea sent by the British East India Company. They boarded the ships and threw 342 chests of tea into the Boston Harbor. The Boston Tea Party became an iconic event in American history.

Akshath learned about the Boston Tea Party when he was a student in the U.S. When he visited Ithalar on a vacation, he learnt about how the British Tea Plantation owners reaped huge profits from these estates by exploiting the poor labourers. This gave him the idea of his story which later culminated into a full-fledged book.

Ithalar Tea Party is set in 1950, with some parts of it tracing the events of the pre- Independence era. The book starts with the death of Anderson Quill, the owner of the English Ithalar Tea Estate in the quaint little town of Ithalar. As constable Selvam investigates the murder, he encounters many strange occurrences. The dead body mysteriously disappears. The workers of the estate are working just like the normal days. They are least worried about their wages or future of the estate as the owner is now dead. During his investigation, Selvam finds himself drawn into the story of the mysterious Velavan. Some more murders happen and all the murders are linked with the tea estate. The killer gets in touch with Selvam time and again leaving clues about the murders. Will Selvam be able to nab the killer? Who is Velavan? What is the mystery behind the murders? To find answers to all these questions, pick up the book and read.

The author has deftly described the beauty of the Nilgiris, its sprawling tea estates and the early Independence era. The simplicity of the people during those times, their hard work, their hopes and frustrations are well portrayed. The plot is gripping and the author has paid attention to minute details. He has recreated the scenes from the 1950s and his research for that period is really commendable. The language is impressive and it’s hard to believe that this is the work of a thirteen-year-old. The theme of the book and writing is far advanced from the author’s age.

The author has brought out very well how greed for money can lead to one’s downfall. He has brought to light the plight of poor workers who toil day and night but are not paid enough for their hard work. The details of tea cultivation process- from growing the tea leaves till the time of its transportation to the market are woven into the plot, without spoiling the narrative.

The characters are well-developed. The author has created quite a suspense around each character and we are intrigued to know more about their backstories. The story has a lot of twists and turns that pop up every now and then. It keeps the readers guessing till the end. It is a thriller but it has various added flavours which act as a bonus for the readers. The book is beginner-friendly and can be read by readers across all age groups.

However, there are certain things in the book which don’t make much sense. The English police inspector has no mind of his own and is always asking his subordinate Selvam for what the next course of action should be. The killer is always able to track Selvam and call him up at unexpected times and places. The killer not only disappears with the dead bodies but also manages to hide & destroy the bodies without leaving any evidence. The court case towards the end is more of a mockery of the judiciary. But then this is the work of a budding author. And for his age, Akshath has done a good job. He definitely shows potential and I wish him all the best for his future endeavours.

Inspite of the few hiccups here and there, the book was better than what I expected. It was a quick read and I finished reading it in a day. You can pick it up if you are looking for a quick fast-paced thriller.

My Rating: 3.25/5

P.S. I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

©2021 Shaloo Walia All rights reserved

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