Book Review – Purgatory of Half-Forgotten Riddles by John A Raju

The novel was a riveting blend of suspense, intrigue and philosophy with a psychological twist, that gripped me from the first to the last page.
Set in a fictional town of Winstorville, the story unfolds from a struggling author’s perspective as he journeys down the memory lane in his diary, reminiscing about various defining moments of his life and his relationship with his father and his two friends. With a non-linear narrative that is part epistolary in nature, shifting viewpoint and certain significant dialogues and scenes carefully scattered as clues, the story turns into a literary puzzle that engulfs the reader in an aura of mystery, intrigue and melancholy.
While initially it might appear like a story about three childhood friends Alex, Alice and Peter entangled in a love triangle, it is anything but simple or straightforward. Told from the point of view of the protagonist Peter, who is haunted by his father’s suicide that continues to be shrouded in mystery, it delves into Peter’s mindscape laying bare the emotions, the unresolved questions that continue to plague and torment him. The compelling storytelling beautifully captures human idiosyncrasies, small childhood moments that hold deeper meanings, life’s choices, flavors of friendship and familial ties making it both relatable and surreal striking an exquisite balance. As the pieces of the growing puzzle fall into place page after page, what emerges is a complex and layered tale with twists and turns interwoven with philosophical vibes. The characters resurrected from Peter’s memory come to life to be juxtaposed against different versions presented later from a different point-to-view to expose a startling contrast that deepens the suspense. The plot progresses at a comfortable and engrossing pace leading to a completely unpredictable one-of-a-kind ending. The title is apt. The prose is both powerful and poetic and draws the reader into the complex and atmospheric world of the protagonist, intertwined with wistful memories.

A brilliantly crafted and richly layered novel that will surely appeal to readers looking for a thought-provoking page turner.

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