Good Girl Bad Girl by Ann Girdharry is a three hundred plus page crime thriller highlighting a larger than life female Main Character acting out her part mostly in India. The geographical setting and the observations of a different culture are the parts that make the novel at least interesting. In the categorizing of “heroes,” there is a level which includes superheroes with incredible powers like the Hulk or the Marvel hero group and a level which includes real-life folks with great abilities like Jackie Chan and Chuck Norris. Between these levels are characters like Kal Medi who demonstrate abilities incredible but believable.
Throughout my reading of this novel I always had a question about Kal; is she a person with abilities developed through training or is the author suggesting a character with abilities that are paranormal or in the realm of fantasy? Kal can “read” people. She knows when they are lying or attempting to hide their true motivations by their body language, physical reactions, or “tells.” This is realistic and is displayed in several TV series such as Lie to Me and Criminal Minds. There are legitimate and respected courses that teach people to do this. Kal seems to take this ability to a new and higher level. A reader might suspect that Kal’s abilities are almost otherworldly. There is also her extraordinary and superior fighting skills but most readers are used to that.
This novel could have been an interesting although not remarkable crime story if not for the unneeded complexity in the creation of “the evil.” Alesha was a respected and successful photojournalist investigator. Daughter Kal Medi is her adult daughter successful in humanitarian, charitable endeavors around the world. The two are in close and frequent contact by electronic means as much as possible. For some reason, Alesha was not contacting Kal as much as usual. Alesha had disappeared. Kal left her work at a refugee camp in Kenya to return to England and begin an investigation. Arriving at her mother’s home, Kal decides to call the police and they respond immediately in the person of Detective Spinks. Throughout much of the novel, the detective will believe Kal guilty of having something to do with her mother’s disappearance. A note was found, one of the same kind that had been found years before by Alesha and even earlier by Alesha’s mother. The family had always ignored the death threats as inconsequential resulting in nothing. Except Kal’s grandfather, Sunni, had died in London after moving his family to London from India. The cause of his death was mysterious. And Kali’s father, David Khan, a man with a mysterious past, had disappeared. In Kal’s dreams, she had seen him murdered. And Kal’s mom was missing. The assigned detective was aware of family history and was suspicious of Kal.
Tracing her mom’s activities led Kal to a medical research group. They had remarkable success in work with disabled children but most of their research was very secretive and carried out in secure compounds in India. ScottBio Tec had developed robotic technology to a remarkable degree of success. Children were recruited and trained at a secure compound for months at a time to use robotic aids in overcoming physical disabilities. The number of children going into the compound did not quite match the number coming out. Perhaps that was a story that Alesha had been working on prior to her disappearance. Kal will ingratiate herself to the owner of ScottBio Tec, the mayor of London, the owner of a highly successful world-class media empire, and a mysterious but evil Russian in her attempts to find mom. Somewhere in the background, it seems that all the political and economic machinations revolve around an unbelievable very complex pedophilia scheme. This is where the novel loses all credibility. It wasn’t the part about Kal being some sort of super empath trained by her father to be a living lie detector. It wasn’t the implied shady almost criminal past of her father. It wasn’t the three generational mysterious being that lived for revenge and left threatening notes to various members of Kal’s family. It was the idea that almost every person in a position of power in the world was a closet pedophile that made me want to stop reading. But too late. The buildup to all the absurdities had taken me past the 80% part of the novel, so I finished it.
The construct of this story was aimed at appealing to every possible reader interest in the unknown. A mysterious evil being, unexplained deaths, strategically planned revenge, medical research gone amok, the corruption of rich, famous, successful leaders, Russian spies, and a worldwide pedophilia ring; this novel with its scattergun approach to a plot would be all things to all readers. The author tried to embed all this “bad” stuff into a sympathetic examination of Indian culture. The culture suffered as a result.
This book was not OK (three Amazon stars). I found it offensive to reader intelligence. Only someone with a desire to wallow in all things evil might find this entertaining. It is available through Kindle Unlimited, so a reader won’t lose much money for the read. After writing this review, I looked at what other readers thought. Someone compared it to “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” Nope, not even close. I give the novel two stars for grammar and mechanics.