Book review

The Tree Bears Witness by Sharath Komarraju, Book Review

Hello dear, fellow book lovers. I have a book review of the first #indianfiction I’ve read this year. It is an Akbar-Birbal mystery, read on to know all about a whodunit murder mystery set in the yesteryears of India. Happy reading.


Title: The Tree Bears Witness
Author : Sharath Komarraju
Publisher : Westland Books
Published : November 2017
Genre : Murder mystery
Rating: 4/5
Location set in: Agra, India.


Barely a month has passed since the royal wedding of Emperor Akbar to the legendary Jodha, when the new queen’s brother, Sujjamal, is found murdered in the palace gardens. With his honour and reputation at stake, Akbar asks his trusted advisor Birbal to solve the mystery. The murder has taken place in a garden, at a spot between two mango trees, and the two guards who are eyewitnesses have conflicting versions of what could have happened. Was it suicide? Was it Akbar himself who ordered the killing or was it the Rajputs who accompanied Sujjamal, his uncles and cousin, who are guilty?

Set in a period that has been described as the golden age of the Mughals, the novel draws us into the royal court of Agra, abuzz with political intrigue, personal enmities and hidden rivalries, where everyone is a suspect until proven otherwise.

My thoughts

An Akbar-Birbal story is what Indians have grown up on, their tales are legendary. Akabar, the Mughal conqueror and his favorite courtsman or coutierer as they were known. Their stories of solving puzzles and mysterious happenings in the kingdom are quite popular even today, like folklore. Birbal is said to be the most smart, intelligent courtsman in Emperor Akbar’s Court. He was a confidant, trusted advisor of the King.
This story is set in the time when the king marries a local warrior clan Princess.

So when the King marries a Local Princess of India to forge better ties and extend a hand of friendship; he hosts her entire royal family at his palace. A few days post marriage while the wedding party is still at Agra, Sujjamal, the new queen’s favorite cousin is killed in the fort’s garden. What follows is the unraveling of issues everyone had with the deceased. Right from his kin to the emperor and his courts men. The Tree Bears Witness is how Birbal solves the murder of the royal prince and the new queen’s favorite brother.

I quite enjoyed the smarts of Birbal and his logical thinking. The story is set at a pretty decent pace which keeps the reader fairly engrossed. It was not one of those books where we guessed the culprit soon in the story. That’s what I enjoyed, the unraveling of the events which lead to the murder and how it was done. I would recommend this for anyone looking for a quick mystery read without any interference from technology, a good old school whodunit.


Sharath Komarraju is an author of fiction and nonfiction based in Bengaluru, India. His best known work (to date) is the Hastinapur series, in which he speaks into the silences of the Mahabharata story through the voices of the epic’s many women characters. His first novel, Murder in Amaravati, was longlisted for the Commonwealth Book Prize, 2013.
Once a software engineer, he now tells stories full-time. When he is not writing or reading, he can be found watching cricket on television, talking to his wife, or munching on the nearest chocolate bar.

Book now Available at all booksellers.

Reviewed by Bharti

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