In Surender Mohan Pathak’s Framed, part of the Vimal series, the protagonist comes face to face with an old nemesis, Maya Ram, who has returned from the grave with his most villainous scheme yet — he pretends he’s married to Vimal’s wife, Neelam. The story unfolds in quick order, as Maya Ram extorts lakhs of rupees from Neelam in exchange for his silence; he has no plan beyond laughing at Vimal for losing his “manhood” and spending much of the extorted money on call girls. And this is just the first 50 pages of the novel.
Two of Pathak’s biggest strengths are his flair for dialogue and his attention to detail — he takes his time with conversations and sets each character up with care. Most of the plot twists lie in these details, as opposed to grand theatrical reveals. Unfortunately, these barely come through in the translation and dialogues that might have had a strong impact in Hindi appear stilted.
Even as we navigate Vimal’s plan to protect the honour of his family, one cannot help but think that all this could have been avoided if husband and wife had just made the effort to talk to each other. But then, that would have made for a very short book indeed.