top of page

Now You See Us - A Gripping Murder Mystery Illuminating Migrant Struggles by Balli Kaul Jaswal

Now You See Us

Author: Balli Kaur Jaswal

Genre: Murder Mystery

Published by Harper Collins

Pages: 327

MRP: Rs. 499/-

Review in association with Blog Chatter and @harpercollinsin

At first glance, the manicured lawns and stately terrace homes of Singapore's elite neighbourhoods exude a placid charm. Yet behind the tranquil façade, a darker reality churns in Balli Kaur Jaswal's gripping novel Now You See Us. When a wealthy housewife is found bludgeoned in her luxury Oldham Walk villa, her Filipina domestic worker Flor is the prime suspect. Jaswal uses the murder mystery to illuminate the oft-hidden struggles of the city-state's migrant underclass.

We experience the story through the perspectives of three Filipina maids: fierce Donita, loyal Cora, and idealistic Angel. Though the women face exploitation, loneliness, and discrimination in Singapore, Jaswal depicts their resilience and compassion.

After seeing Flor near the time of the murder, Donita is convinced of her innocence. She enlists the more cautious Cora and Angel to investigate the crime scene for clues. Jaswal ratchets up the tension as the women uncover sinister secrets about the victim's cheating husband. The husband's alibi is flimsy, and rumours swirl of his affair with a younger teaching assistant.

The maids' clandestine sleuthing leads to close brushes with danger and moments of touching solidarity. Their propulsive hunt for the truth makes it tempting to speed through the book in one sitting. Yet Jaswal's nuanced character development warrants a more measured pace. We come to intimately understand what motivates each woman.

For world-weary Cora, the murder conjures traumatic memories that compel her to keep a low profile. Angel's romantic struggles highlight the complicated realities of LGBTQ relationships. And Donita's affair with charming Sanjeev underscores the impossibility of domestic workers finding love in Singapore.

Jaswal maintains an impressive level of suspense throughout the novel. Red herrings abound, and distrustful police officers threaten to quash the women's quest for justice. While sequences in the opulent homes of wealthy Singaporeans contrast sharply with the maids' modest living quarters, Jaswal underscores shared humanity.

Class tensions rumble beneath the surface, but the novel finds moments of lightness and humor thanks to its plucky protagonists. Jaswal's empathetic storytelling makes their voices uniquely compelling.

Now You See Us offers no facile solutions. Though the masterfully paced denouement provides a gratifying comeuppance, it does not undo the systemic inequalities that loom over the maids' lives. Yet glimmers of solidarity shine through a world designed to keep these women powerless and invisible. Their loyalty and courage in the face of injustice makes this thriller a satisfying and illuminating read.

If you wish to read this book, do purchase it from our link. We get a small commission at no added cost to you:


bottom of page