Happy Monday, my bookish peeps. Just last week I told you that I’m all about learning about new-to-me authors and books, as well as growing my TBR list. Well, that list has one more addition after today and it’s in one of my favorite genres, mystery. Let me introduce you to Vee Kumari, author of the debut Dharma: A Rekha Rao Mystery. Learn more about this author, her character Rekha, and the book below.
The Importance and Significance of Character Naming
by Vee Kumari
Rekha is an Indian film actress, noted for her versatility and acknowledged as one of the finest artists in Indian cinema, who has acted in more than 190 Bollywood films in her career spanning over 50 years. She has often played strong female characters, often “the other woman.” I chose the name because I wanted something exceptional, not commonly used for Indian protagonists.
The meaning of the name, as Rekha explains to Al toward the end of the novel, is: “a straight line.” It implies honesty, lack of filters, perhaps stubborn and inflexible.
The pronunciation of the name is a little tricky. The ‘R’ is not a harsh trilled sound, rather a softer sound best produced by having the tip of the tongue tap once against the front half of the palate, but not touching the teeth. But I’d be happy whichever way the readers choose to say it!
Dharma: A Rekha Rao Mystery by Vee Kumari
ISBN: 9781938394423 (paperback)
ASIN: B0868TRY2C (Kindle version)
Publisher: Great Life Press
Publication Date: March 22, 2020
Rekha Rao, a thirty-something Indian American professor of art history, is disillusioned by academia and haunted by the murder of her father, for which she believes police convicted the wrong person.
She moves away from her nosy Indian family to live an independent life. As luck would have it, she gets entangled in a second murder, that of her mentor and father figure, Professor Joseph Faust. An idol of the Hindu Goddess Durga was used as the murder weapon and left on the body. Rekha is asked to help Detective Al Newton understand the relationship, if any, between the meaning of the statue and the motive for murder.
Rekha is attracted to Al but steers clear of him because of her distaste for cops and prior abusive experience with a boyfriend, sticking to only what she was asked to do. Al and Rekha constantly clash, igniting a love-hate relationship. When police arrest one of her favorite students and accuse Faust of idol theft, Rekha’s ‘dharma,’ her sense of duty, rears its head and propels her into looking for the killer on her own. Walking a thin line between Al’s warnings about the dangers of amateur sleuthing, and the match-making efforts of her family, Rekha finds the killer, and in the process, discovers her inner strength, and tastes the prospect of an unexpected romance.
Meet the author:
Vee Kumari grew up in India. She loved to read, and often used it to avoid her mother, who might want her to do a chore or two. It was her mother who directed her to use the dictionary to learn the meanings of new words and construct sentences with them. Vee wanted to become an English professor but went to medical school instead.
Upon coming to the US, Vee obtained a doctorate in anatomy. She became a faculty member at the UC Davis Medical Center, where she worked for over 35 years, and later worked for the Keck School of Medicine for five years. Teaching neuroanatomy to medical students became her passion. She published many scientific papers and won several teaching awards.
When she retired in 2012, she took classes from The Gotham Writers’ Workshop and UCLA Writers Program. Dharma, A Rekha Rao Mystery is her debut fiction that incorporates her observations on the lives of Indian immigrants and Indian Americans in the US.
Vee lives in Burbank and is also an actor who has appeared in TV shows, including Criminal Minds and Glow, and produced and was the lead in a short film, Halwa, which garnered the first prize in HBO’s 2019 Asian Pacific American Visionaries (APAV) contest.
She is at work on her next novel about an Indian immigrant family whose American dream shatters when one of their twin daughters goes missing.
Connect with the author via her website, Facebook, Goodreads, Instagram, and Twitter.