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N.J. Cooper recommends 'Witness the Night' by Kishwar Desai

NJ Cooper Good Reads"I grew up reading novels set in India.  I loved the excitement of John Masters's work, in particular The Deceivers, which tells the fact-based story of an officer of the British Raj who went undercover to break the Thuggee, the quasi-religious sect that murdered thousands of people of all races travelling through India from the fourteenth to the nineteenth century.  I revelled in Rumer Godden's fiction and non-fiction, M. M. Kaye's more lush romantic novels, and many others.

My own first novel, The Distant Kingdom, published under the name Daphne Wright, was set in India and Afghanistan in the late 1830s and involved my heroine in the First Afghan War, with its terrible retreat from Kabul.  But for today I have decided to pick Kishwar Desai's Witness the Night, which deservedly won the 2010 Costa First Novel Award.

This novel reveals something of the reality for women in India today, featuring a magnificently independent social worker, Simran Singh, who works to save a young girl accused of the murder of thirteen members of her family.  The novel is set in the Punjab and contrasts the power of a woman such as Simran, who has her own flat, money and work, with that of the tradition-bound daughters of the highly patriarchal and abusive society from which she has escaped.  It is moving, shocking, and completely involving."

N.J. Cooper

About the book

In a small town in the heart of India, a young girl is found tied to a bed inside a townhouse where 13 people lie dead. The girl is alive, but only just. She is arrested for the murders she is believed to have committed. Visiting social worker Simran attempts to break through the girl's mute trance to discover the truth.

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About N.J. Cooper

N.J. Cooper started writing historical fiction before turning to crime with the lighthearted Willow King series.  Moving on to more realistic fiction featuring barrister Trish Maguire, she now writes about a forensic psychologist working mainly on the Isle of Wight.  Her latest novel, Vengeance in Mind, is published in the summer of 2012.