Bookish Witch

Silent Screams by Neenv Raju Akunuri 

Blurb (as on Amazon):

Love is unconditional, but is marriage? Naseen Rajnath is a criminal lawyer mourning the death of her best friend, in a homicide. Jai Singh, the husband of the victim, is considered the prime suspect of the murder after ACP Jason Sahayam takes up the case. Naseen decides to defend Jai in court, only because she believes, the man who loved her best friend as dearly as Jai, couldn’t have hurt her. Contrary to Naseen’s conviction, could Jai really have killed his wife? Was there trouble in paradise that Naseen wasn’t aware of? Set in Chennai, the story goes on to unfold closely guarded secrets that now stand the risk of coming out, that’ll make Jai, Naseen, and Jason question their true selves.

Genre: Fiction/Crime Thriller/Murder Mystery

Pages: 298

Format: Kindle eBook/Paperback


  • Kindle eBook: 49 INR/$2.99
  • Paperback: 279 INR/$27.90

My Rating: 4.8/5

Jai and Saysha are the perfect couple. At least that’s what it seems to the world and the people close to them. Until Saysha is found dead in their 3bhk flat and Jai is the prime suspect in her murder. The only one who believes in his innocence is Naseen, Saysha’s best friend. A criminal lawyer by profession, Naseen takes up the case, leading to revelations that will change everyone’s lives. But, the most important question is, is Jai really innocent or did he kill Saysha? And if he didn’t, who did?

What I liked about the book:

-> The story is told from the PoV of all the lead characters, including Jai. This keeps up the curiosity level till the end, especially because when we read Jai’s PoV the revelations are just enough to make us believe that he is innocent and at the same time we keep doubting him too.
-> Though it is majorly a crime and murder mystery, the story explores various other themes like friendship, love, parenting, and marriage.
-> The timeline shifts back and forth from 2013-2018, in and around Delhi, Chennai, and Singapore; this not only helps us understand the circumstances that led to the present day, but also ensures our interest remains intact in the reading.
-> In approximately 300 pages, the story packs a punch with all the elements that a good mystery-thriller needs. The best bit about it though is that it does so in moderation, never underwhelming or overdoing it.
-> Naseen’s character is truly inspiring. Portrayed as one helluva independent and strong woman, there is a soft side to her too. As a professional, she is confident, brave, and fearless; a woman who speaks her mind clearly and firmly believes in herself. One can’t help but admire the way she puts up with the legal battle. But then, we also want to reach out to her vulnerable and hurt side; wanting to comfort and assure her that things will be alright.
-> Besides the main characters’ storyline, we also read about Jason and Noelle’s story and this provides good relief from the tension around the case. This parallel story is of newly married ACP Jason Sahayam who is the investigating officer of the Saysha murder case. He is still figuring out his relationship with his wife Noelle and understanding the oddities. What I especially liked is how this relationship is strained as well, though in a different manner, but still relatable for most millennial readers.
-> The inclusion of Shilpa’s PoV adds a great dynamic as these chapters show us that Saysha wasn’t as good as Jay’s and Naseen’s chapters make her out to be. Through Shilpa, who is Saysha’s mother, we get to know about Saysha’s childhood and past events, that form a major part of what led to the case we’re dealing with.
-> The book touches upon the much-needed to be discussed topics like mental health and physical abuse.

What I did not like about the book:

-> The climax made me seriously question Jai’s character at many levels. He comes off as a manipulative and calculative guy, whereas throughout the story, he is shown to be an honest, idealistic guy and we find ourselves rooting for him.
-> I personally would have loved to read more about Jason and Noelle’s story.

Quotable quotes:

-> If you ever thought that one incident could not ruin your life, think again. It could be a chain of events leading to it, but all it needs is one single moment for your life to come crashing down.
-> Isn’t it true, that it’s easier to tell secrets to strangers than to the people you love?
-> I have never understood the grad students’ fascination with CEOs. I am pretty sure the applause would have just been as loud if Moorakhchand Jilebiwala or Steve Jobs were here instead of me. No one seems to realise that you can choose your own designation if it’s your company.
-> “You can’t base your judgment on one incident.”
“Sometimes, all it takes is one incident. Make a plan, see what you have to do if it
doesn’t work out. There are always a million other options.”
-> We were not friends who hung out together all the time. We didn’t even feel the constant need to stay in touch. We had no expectations from each other. Over the years, we simply managed to become each other’s support system. We encouraged, pushed, chided, caught and rebelled with each other. We had each other’s back. Whoever said long-distance relationships don’t work clearly was with the wrong person.

-> We fall in and out of love all the time. That’s what makes us human. But amidst all the turmoil, heartache and suffering, if you have one friend who sits with you and pulls you out of the pit you have managed to throw yourself into, rest assured you are sorted for life.
> I was an 18-year-old, ecstatic that a 21-year-old decent looking guy found me appealing and well, let’s be honest, who wouldn’t like that?
-> A vicious cycle of expectations and disappointments, it leads you nowhere, except maybe to hell, and a lot sooner than you can anticipate.

-> You made a guy more important than your career. You have to understand a guy is just a part of your life, not your life. The only thing that’s going to stick with you all throughout is your career. Just because some guy decided to break your heart you cannot, simply cannot, leave behind everything you worked so hard for and sit here rotting.
-> No one ever tells you how it feels like when you lose someone. If they say they understand your pain, it’s a load of bull, because nothing can prepare you for losing someone you love. It’s like dying a thousand deaths a minute, only to realise you haven’t died after all and you would have to go through it all over again, till you accept defeat. But if you think it’s the end, well guess what, it isn’t, because it will catch up with you again when you least expect it.
-> Does the feeling of loss ever leave you? And if it does, does it leave a black hole behind? Does one ever start feeling normal again? Or do those emotional scars remain for the rest of one’s life, like a fracture that has not set right?
-> Not having someone depending on you is probably a good thing. Whatever you do are either your own achievements or rejections, no one to be responsible for, no one to split the credit with. It was only with Saysha that I realised how great it was to have someone to share your happiness with, how comforting it was to have someone to share your darkest fears, and not be judged.
-> Keep yourself busy, that’s the only way to deal with what’s hurting you.
-> It’s not often you find someone who would willingly come for a ride in your brakeless car, so when you find him, you better learn to treasure them even after the ride.

-> I sometimes can’t help but laud the privacy policies followed in this country. You can leak information on the internet, and no one would care. Still, you avoid sharing information with the police unless they appear in full uniform and carrying ID, preferably even a search warrant.
-> Doctors are trained not to get too attached to a patient because their loss can be traumatising. Lawyers are also advised similarly. Detachment is the key,
-> There is always one person who can terrify even the best, the guy who is just a bit better than he is.
-> Welcome to India, where everything is easy, and nothing is too serious.

-> Mentoring is no easy job. My mother, an English teacher at a school, would get requests from parents at the beginning of every academic year to give private tuitions for their children. My mother wasn’t very keen. But when I asked, she said, “That’s the difference between a teacher and a mentor. A teacher already knows what needs to be taught, there is a syllabus. But a mentor is someone more hands-on, you need to train them to be able to operate without your presence. Hence it requires more patience and probably a more humanised approach.”
->It’s always best that you do your job, not everyone can think like you do. And not everyone can do the same job as you.
-> She’s the only one who can make me feel both surprised and lousy at the same time. Maybe this is love.
-> Fear is more powerful than influence.

-> Doing something wrong for the right reason doesn’t make it less wrong or more right.
->While she loved meeting and conversing with absolute strangers, she had this knack of dropping them like hot potatoes the minute the conversation ended. She had a network, a strong one at that, but none of them really translated into true friends. Very few crossed over to become acquaintances, but nothing more. Her justification would be,“It’s too much effort. I mean, you know I’m not sixteen anymore. I don’t have the patience to invest in friendships anymore. If it sticks, it sticks. Else it’s their loss.”
-> Bad dreams don’t leave scars behind. Nightmares do.
-> Some ideas are troublesome in the beginning, but the payoff is undeniably great.
-> That’s the problem of being successful; you undermine people so often and frequently underestimate a few more.

> When I was not sure of where my life was headed—she was always there. “Babe, I’ve got your back,” she’d say when I debated if I wanted to do something. “You can only screw it up, right? I mean that’s the worst you can do. We’ll figure something out. Better do it and be sorry than to never have tried at all?”
-> You see and remember people only the way you want.
-> While we await Justice Rajendran Raghuraman’s verdict tomorrow, this so-called open and shut case has taught us more about death than life itself. The persistent issues that women face in current times, be it workplace gender discrimination or lack of freedom to do anything that interests them, from being objectified to being put on a pedestal, from victim shaming to domestic and sexual abuse, issues that are relevant to a woman are hardly addressed in our society, much less in a way that educates our men and women alike and makes them want to assess their attitudes and outlook towards each other.
-> It is love only when it is selfless, free from malice. Add some lust, it becomes a whirlwind romance. Add some spite, it becomes a scheme. Add some drama, it becomes a tragedy. It is love only when it is selfless, free from you and me, free from the rest of the world. Because what is love if there isn’t an us?

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