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Witness the Night (Simran Singh #1)

3.44  ·  Rating details ·  845 Ratings  ·  130 Reviews
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Paperback, 352 pages
Published 2010 by Beautiful Books Limited
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(showing 1-30)
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Paul
Sep 27, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: crime
In two minds about this one; it didn't seem to know what it wanted to be.
Simran Singh is a social worker asked to look into a mass murder of a family; a 14 year old girl is suspected, but is she being set up. Simran has to work through prejudice and tradition to find a solution. The problem is that the book doesn't really know what it is. Desai clearly has strong views about the subject she is addressing and she is passionate about it. The role of women in a certain part of Indian society is ca
...more
Garry
Jun 24, 2012 rated it liked it
Witness the Night is set in a small town in Punjab, and tells the story of a social worker amateur detective who is trying to solve the mystery of whether why a 14 year old girl murdered her family.

I'm conflicted with this review. The positive side of my brain tells me that it tells themes that need to be told, and tells them in a way that made it very easy to continue reading. Not only did I finish the book in four days, but I also felt compelled to do some research about the systemic abortion
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Elaine
Mar 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013
Gripping atmospheric mystery taking on almost gothicly horrific themes of infanticide, child abuse and corruption in India's Punjab. The detective, a 45-year old, ex convent school girl turned itinerant social worker with a taste for a glass of whisky and a handsome young man, is a truly sympathetic and engaging lead character. Not everyone's motivation fits together perfectly, and the treatment of social themes sometimes borders (understandably - the killing of girl babies can get one riled up) ...more
Trupti Dorge
Jan 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: i-own, review-copy
Set in small town Jullundur (Jalandhar) in Punjab, Witness the Night is the story of a 14 year old girl Durga caught in a nightmare and a 45-year-old social worker Simran who is working hard to find out the truth. When 13 people from a rich and prominent family are killed one night, 14-year-old Durga, the daughter of the family and the only survivor, is the main suspect.

When Simran, a fiercely independent and outspoken social worker arrives in Jullunder to speak with Durga and find out the truth
...more
Rui Carlos da Cunha
My GM at the bookstore handed me an advanced reader's copy that he got from the Penguin rep. I guess he figured I'd like it, as it did win the Costa First Novel Award and the author is South Asian. I also tend to like well-written literary detective novels. The idea behind this story, (child sexual abuse, infanticide, foeticide, and other forms of corruption in contemporary Indian culture) seemed like it would be heavy-handed. This would make for a great work of non-fiction if the real story beh ...more
Susan
Jul 24, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So I found this gem at the Half Priced Book's Warehouse Sale for $1. I thought I would take a chance. So glad I did.

I think it is unwise marketing on the part of the publisher to call this a thriller. It is more or less a mystery. But it is not thrilling. At no point did I think the narrator was in any real danger. There is no real suspense. In fact what I loved most about this book is that it is imperfect people, doing their jobs, the best they can, with the cards they are dealt and the realiza
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Alok
May 28, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book has a phenomenally binding start - A 14 year old girl is found alive, tied and tortured, in a burned house, filled with butchered corpses of the rest of her family. Within no time, she turns out to be the prime suspect of the slaughter.
The novel ,albeit short, is much more than a (mass)murder mystery. Without giving away much, it deals with issues like female foeticide, parochial patriarchalism and the nexus between the police, the media, the social institutions and our 'uncivil' soc
...more
Amanda Payne
Jun 07, 2011 rated it liked it
I really wanted to like this book more, the author is passionate about the subject matter and comes from a journalism/documentary background. And that's why I think it jarred with me as the issues about the treatment of female babies and children in India to precendence over building a real sense of the story and the characters. I had the mystery figured out before the main character and when the climax came, it seemed rushed, hurried and curiously unresolved. I wanted a bit more subtlety in the ...more
Mary Vermillion
Dec 28, 2012 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Emily
Mar 11, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
****3.5
Audra (Unabridged Chick)
I inhaled this book in about three hours, unable to stop. The premise is dark and grim: a sixteen year old girl is found bound in her house, surrounded by the poisoned, stabbed, and burned members of her family. As the last one living, the police arrest her for the crime. Simran Singh, a volunteer social worker of sorts, is asked to investigate the girl's participation by an old friend who knows the family, and Simran quickly discovers that the girl's family, and this remote northern Indian town ...more
Julie
Jun 14, 2012 rated it liked it


I really wanted to like this book. I met the author at Hay Festival and she is lovely , and passionate about the lot of women in India.The book starts out well setting the scene and getting you interested in the plot. It is written as a crime novel with a social message in there, female infanticide and women in India. By the middle I had guessed the plot largely and got a bit irritated by the naivety of the main character who is a supposed hard headed spinster but seems to flip at any man who s
...more
Elphaba J
Jan 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Houve um momento, ao longo deste livro, em que senti que algo pegajoso se colava à minha pele… Mais tarde, ao reflectir sobre a história, cheguei à conclusão que era simplesmente vestígios da humanidade que li, que aflorou através do reflexo de um dos lugares mais sombrios da terra que, curiosamente, se enfeita com as cores mais vivas do mundo.

A Testemunha da Noite fala-nos de Durga e de Simram, duas mulheres privilegiadas atendendo a uma India particularmente cruel com o seu sexo. Com faixas di
...more
Aisling
Feb 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is stellar work of fiction that shines a light on a very real problem (well, several). It is a dark read but extremely well crafted. That Desai can draw attention to a serious problem in India while at the same time engrossing the reader through a complex mystery is a credit to her talent and voice. The ending twist is breath taking. Sign me up for every future book by Kishwar Desai. Five bursting stars.
Susmita Bhattacharya
Jul 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed reading the book, although enjoyed is not the right word to
use. It is about female infanticide, gender bias and drug abuse in the PUnjab.
The protagonist is a great character, Simran singh, and through her eyes, we witness the autrocities
of society on vulnerable and weak women. One needs ro have a heart of steel to
realise how indiscriminately and visciously girls are killed at birth or aborted
in some parts of India. A must read to know about the dark side of Indian society.
Betty
Jun 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is like a Gothic horror novel- and the setting in modern day rural India makes the events more chilling. The treatment of women and unwanted girls is appalling; the issues the novel raises are current and urgent.
There are some 'first novel' difficulties with the writing- at times it seems more like a lecture and the ending is rather contrived; however, the novel is fast paced and I didn't want to put it down.
da-wildchildz
Feb 08, 2012 rated it liked it
I’d heard of female foeticide in India before reading this book but it was much more powerful than any news story because of the emotions Kishwar Desai tries to convey in the story. The writing wasn’t brilliant and sometimes the plot felt a little disjointed but this was well worth a read to understand a particular Indian mind when it comes to male and female babies. Just so sad.
Dede
Oct 13, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although I was fascinated by the issues raised in this novel, the writing lacked clarity and became tangled and confusing by the end. The main mysterious event (a devastating fire) was never clearly explained. I felt the ending was rushed and messy. All in all I am left with mixed feelings about this novel and can't help being left a sense of disappointment.
Marina Sofia
May 31, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This could be a very depressing book, given the subject matter (the murder of an entire extended family, a traumatised young girl as a possible suspect, female infanticide and political corruption). But Desai has a deft, lively style and a thoroughly likeable, unconventional, disobedient middle-aged heroine in Simran Singh. A delight to read, even as it makes you indignant and socially aware.
ClaudiaR
O livro é pequeno e a parte policial não é muito desenvolvida.
As 4* são pela descrição do que é nascer mulher na índia.
Pavan Rao
Sep 16, 2011 rated it liked it
Was an interesting start but somehow gave a half baked feeling in the end...the style of writing am not so sure about too....but overall a good effort and makes ot a faulty interesting read
Sri Laxmi
Excellent work by Kishwar Desai. Based on a true incident that happened in Kolkota,India. Brings out the atrocities of humans. She brings out the true face of Government through this novel.
Laura Ryan
Jun 05, 2011 rated it it was ok
Okay for first novel but I thought that the identity of the murderer was obvious from the beginning.
Anne Charlotte LE DIOT
Excellent roman dont l'intrigue sert un but plus élevé : balancer à la face de la société indienne la vraie réalité que vivent une majorité de femme du sous-continent indien, qu'elles soient riches ou pauvres, éduquées et pourtant déshumanisées.
Portrait sans concession des perversions engendrées par des croyances archaïques qui ne savent pas se transformer, qui conduisent à réprimer, tuer plutôt qu'aimer pour maintenir privilèges, statuts et rôles sociaux immuables, dérisoires et pourtant amplif
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David Winter
May 26, 2017 rated it liked it
Good readable fiction. The harrowing part of the story is the exposure of how women are treated in India and particul the Punjab. Murder of female babies is commonplace and if you are wealthy enough will be covered up by the system.
Brenda
Jun 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I picked this up from the Friends of the Library. I enjoyed the Indian culture.
Leah
May 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime, new-to-me, 2014
Powerful and thought-provoking…

When a family is horrifically murdered, the sole survivor becomes the chief suspect, even though she is a fourteen-year-old girl who had been found tied up at the scene and had herself clearly been assaulted and raped. Durga is now in prison and social worker Simran Singh is called in by her old friend Amarjit, the Inspector General in Punjab, to assess her mental health and decide whether she can be interrogated. But Simran finds it impossible to believe in Durga’
...more
Chales
Feb 26, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the middle I felt like I was preparing for a plot twist of some kind...but then..meh. It was actually predictable once you started finding stuff out about the family. Still a decent read but no wow factor for me.
Neha Yazmin
Apr 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a mystery set in North India and was the first India-based novel of this type for me. It also won the Costa First Novel Award so I knew it would be a good read.

This book gripped me from the early pages and I kept coming back for it.

It was disturbing. Heartbreaking. Twisted. Gripping. I highly recommend Witness The Night.

It reads almost like literary fiction but has a fresh twist and the lead character is fun and witty and likeable. I was very impressed with the writing style and quality,
...more
Lauren K
In Kishwar Desai’s debut novel Witness the Night we are introduced to the controversial Indian social worker Simran Singh who has been called in to support a young woman accused of murdering her entire family. The girl is traumatised and distrusting of those around her. Simran is convinced the girl is a victim and not a murderer, but as she begins to dig into the dark secrets that the girl’s family concealed she uncovers intergenerational abuse of women, conspiracies and corruption.

Simran is a l
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7th update of witness the night 2 11 May 12, 2013 07:01AM  
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THE LISTS: 1st Update of Witness the night 1 6 Mar 23, 2013 04:36PM  
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  • Beauty
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  • The Blue Bedspread
  • The Guardian Angels
  • The Templar Concordat
  • Dorothea's War
  • Someone Else's Garden
  • Alting har sin pris (Konrad Simonsen, #2)
  • Death by Design (Cetin Ikmen, #12)
  • The Impressionist
  • The Emperor's Riddles
  • Serious Men
  • The Hope Factory
  • Hand Me Down World
  • Just Henry
  • India Calling: An Intimate Portrait of a Nation's Remaking
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Kishwar Desai (née Rosha) (born 1 December 1956) is an Indian author and columnist. Her latest novel The Sea of Innocence has just been published in India and will shortly be published in UK and Australia. Her first novel, Witness the Night won the Costa Book Award in 2010 for Best First Novel and has been translated into over 25 languages. It was also shortlisted for the Author's Club First Novel ...more
More about Kishwar Desai...

Other Books in the Series

Simran Singh (3 books)
  • Origins of Love
  • The Sea of Innocence

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