Richa S. Mukherjee
HarperCollins India
July 25, 2022
Final Verdict

About the Author

Richa is an ex-journalist and advertising professional turned award winning writer, poet and blogger, contributing to several online platforms. Her first novel I Didn’t Expect to be Expecting was a humorous take on the rollercoaster ride of pregnancy and her second, Kanpur Khoofiya Pvt Ltd, a comedic thriller book was picked up for a screen adaptation. Excess Baggage is her third book and is also headed to the big screen. She has authored anthologies, e-singles and audiobooks.
Other Works By Richa S. Mukherjee
I Didn’t Expect to be Expecting
Excess Baggage
Kanpur Khoofiya Pvt Ltd,

A thriller book packed with royals, 1 murder and many disappearances

Mumbai based award-winning writer, ex-journalist and advertising professional Richa S Mukherjee’s latest novel The Curse of Kuldhara is a humorous thriller book that is soon to be a major web series.

The story begins in the small town of Gwaltoli in Uttar Pradesh, located about five kilometres from Kanpur. Here, we meet our protagonist, Prachand Tripathi, a kind, oily haired detective and owner of a detective agency called Kanpur Khoofiya Pvt. Ltd. A simpleton from a small town, he is quite contrary to the conventional Sherlock Holmes image of a typical detective. However, owing to success and media attention from previous cases, his investigative enterprise is well known. Vidya Tripathi is Prachand’s wife and the company’s CEO. Rachna Tripathi, Prachand’s mother, has her own business of selling gau mutra and kanda. Further, Prachand’s scooter is called Champa, and the Tripathis’ cow is called Hirwa.

A film based on Prachand and Vidya’s life is to be shot in the Thar Desert of Rajasthan, and they will be hosted by a member of the royal family to stay there for a month. The film is titled, Khooni Haveli ka Khooni Rahasya!, and is planned to be shot as a telenova, a dramatic mix of a soap opera and a novel. What catches Prachand’s attention is that about 18 kilometres from the shoot location lies Kuldhara, a cursed, abandoned village. Prachand decides to go for the adventure, as he finds a mystery to solve—the eponymous curse of Kuldhara.

They leave for Jaisalmer by road, a two-day journey with an overnight stay in Jaipur. Their host in Kuldhara is His Royalness Ramnarayan Rathod. Soon, several mysterious incidents gradually start unfolding during the shoot. Restless spirits roam the land. Weary travellers and locals lurking around at night begin to disappear. Soon, the crew begins hearing strange sounds at Naveli Haveli. In no time, an actor goes missing, and is later found dead. 

The author builds a sense of mystique around the exotic setting in this thriller book. Bhutaari Baba, an accomplished tantric, tells them that these regions have a history of suffering and pain. “It’s in the sand, in the water, in every shrub, in every khejri and in every kelu tree. A residue of lives cut short, their helplessness from centuries ago howls with the desert winds at night, looking for someone who will listen, who will feel, who will understand their grief,” he explains hauntingly. 

Prachand begins investigating suspects based on opportunities, circumstantial evidence and the usual motives that are predictable and universal—love, money, jealousy, and revenge. 

“Multiple murder theories, sordid affairs and now added conjecture about poisoning had become a constant hum of conversation. Given that the murderer was assumed to be amongst them, every cup of chai was regarded warily, incensed cooks were asked to try their own food before serving it and no one wanted to be alone.”

But as is the case with most whodunnits and thriller books, the final culprit turns out to be someone least expected. 

Small Town Charm

Towards the beginning of this thriller book, the author makes some astute observations about Gwaltoli, comically bringing out its small town charm:

“When it came to calamities in Gwaltoli, it was protocol to shake heads vigorously, cluck tongues, sympathise without taking any concrete action and analyse the series of unfortunate events. One helpful bystander would even take on the mantle of directing non-existent traffic.”

Richa S. Mukherjee also provides some exquisite descriptions of the Golden City of Jaisalmer, complete with its “yellow sandstone houses and multi-coloured shops and wears” while giving the reader some historical context:

“The Ravs and Bhats, a caste of bards and genealogists, would roam the lands, knitting together the wisdom and experience of the years gone by. That’s what runs in our veins as well. Songs and stories are all we need! Tales aside, these walls and our will have prevailed for centuries, be it through invasions, droughts or treacherous weather. Only a fourth of the population resides within the fort. There are newer constructions on the outer rings.”


A light, breezy read on the whole, this thriller book’s short chapters move swiftly along. Part travelogue, part mystery, the thriller book has something for everyone. Moreover, the author has a fun style of writing that makes note of humour in everyday situations. 

Best Quotes

“The truth often lies between chance and observation.”

Neha Kirpal

Neha Kirpal

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *