Book Review : The Honest Season

the honest seasonBlurb View: 

Sikander Bansi, an unlikely political heir in Delhi, secretly records politicians in Parliament as they haggle to become cabinet ministers, bag defense contracts, dodge criminal charges and collect corporate largesse. Among them is a rising leader of the People’s Party, Nalan Malik, whose success has come through unscrupulous means. When Sikander suddenly disappears, Mira Mouli, a newspaper journalist with an unusual gift of knowing people’s thoughts, receives the controversial Parliament tapes along with clues to find him. She is attracted to Sikander’s principles and is wary of Nalan’s deceit. But her powers of knowing tell her a different story, one that she can unravel only at the cost of her life. From the bestselling author of Shoes of the Dead, this is disturbing political fiction that reveals why Parliament functions behind gates closed to the public.

Review:

It gives me immense pleasure to let you know that I’ve read one of the finest books by an Indian writer in 2016. Yes, it’s a political fiction and I’m quite wary of politics in India. Yet it is the apprehension that egged me to pick up this book. A Twitter chat with the author prior to start reading the book confirmed that her novel is worth every minute. In this month of Assembly elections in four crucial Indian states, the book comes as a necessity. It aims at exposing what happens inside the ominous white Assembly buildings – the shady dealings, the breach of trust, the whispers that never escape those marble pillars into commonality.

The story begins with a glimpse of the protagonist Mira’s super powers. She can read thoughts while listening to a person and knows what they’re thinking. So she’s a know-journalist. The book is based on utilizing her powers, but never misusing them. Mira is involved into a dangerous game of hide and seek by politician Sikander Bansi that spills the secrets of the Parliament. She can’t escape without solving the clues and in the process only gets hurt. The author has made great efforts to build the character of Mira, word by word, and we are let into her dark and gloomy world. There are other politicians like Nalan Malik who is hard to gauge, Sikander Bansi in his various avatars, Mira’s boss and editor Bidur Munshi, her colleague Salat Vasudev, and the rain. I think it’s the rain that drives the story forward and gives it such a poetic aura.

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Book Review : Lead Tin Yellow

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Image Courtesy: Amazon

Image Courtesy: Amazon

Robin was stunned! Why should his father chuck a bag of old newspapers over a bridge moments before he was shot? He was just a retired small-town engineer, so what secret was he hiding? He had lived all his life in a small Midwestern town and led a dull, gray-flannel life. The police were curious too. There was a ghastly murder on their hands. When Robin found a key with a tag in his raincoat he knew his father had deliberately secreted it for him. Now he had a clue, but where would this take him? There was something his father wanted him to know, and he had to get there before the police. It was now between him, his father, and his killers. The secret lay in Robin’s discovery of how lead and tin were combined by sixteenth-century artists to make a brilliant yellow. In his pursuit of his father’s killers, Robin puts his journalistic career on hold to enter a world of corporate thugs, unrequited love, and medieval art. He pursued his quarry, just as his quarry pursued him, from the East Coast to the Midwest to Quebec and back. His partner, a high-end fashion designer, and his quarrelsome but astute half-brother step up to fill in the blanks that help Robin get closer to his target. Events build up to a dramatic climax at which point Robin and the police have identical interests. The showdown is on the same bridge on which Robin’s father was shot. In his lifetime, Robin hardly knew his reticent father. But after his death, as he unpeeled his father’s life, he got to know of the courage and affection this man was capable of. A grave tragedy helps a near-dysfunctional family to rekindle an absent affection that should have always been there.

Review: 

The book mentions an interesting factoid in the inside back cover – that the author is a renowned sociologist. Few pages into the story, and I have a glaring suspicion that his intentions in writing this book might be a sociological experiment. The premises seem to be exciting, there’s an anticipation of a taut thriller, a glaring mystery that compels anyone to pick up the book.

The story is about a journalist, Robin Miller, who is grappled with a sudden situation of his father’s death. As the blurb tells you, Robin unravels a mystery that leads him to his father’s secrets through a big maze of events. There are guns, paintings, a little war history, dysfunctional families, love affairs. It’s a mishmash of stuff the author wanted to fit into his story. The story is credible at times, but at other times, it would seem a bit loose. There’s a definite plot and thankfully not-too-many subplots to make things more complicated.

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Book Review : Operation Jai Mata Di

jai mata di

Image Courtesy: Amazon

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In a daring midnight operation by armed men, over 10,000 pilgrims are taken hostage en route to the holy shrine of Vaishno Devi, a popular Himalayan religious-tourist destination in the troubled state of Jammu & Kashmir in Northern India. The hostage-takers threaten to shoot pilgrims every day, unless the incumbent Government accedes to their demands. With the Hindu festival of Diwali just around the corner and elections less than six months away, the Government at the center is under immense pressure to act. What will the Government do? The army? The intelligence agencies? The common man? No terrorist group has claimed responsibility for the attack. Who are these men? Is there a larger plot? Faced with such unprecedented events, will the country descend into unimaginable anarchy or will it rise above the issues of collective apathy and greed that have plagued it since Independence?

Review: 

There are issues plaguing our country that we read about in the newspapers everyday. Few of them make our blood boil, others create disgust and delirium inside our psyche. We keep wishing they’d come to an end somehow, but they don’t. We keep searching for ways to end corruption, but it doesn’t. Then Pratik Shah comes up with this book showing his own way. It might not be social, legal or foolproof, but it works in the book.

In the contoured terrains of the beautiful and pious land of Vaishno Devi temples, things get dismal. You’d spot Vijay, Prakash, Raghuvir and others with fake identity and intense plots. The strategies and intentions are gradually revealed in each chapter. There is much technology involved, some of it is pretty complex for laymen like us. Though Pratik tries to explain them in detail, few parts still escape us.

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Book Review : God is a Gamer

Image Courtesy: Google

Image Courtesy: Google

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WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU CROSS GAMER, BANKER, POLITICIAN AND TERRORIST WITH VIRTUAL MONEY?

From the bestselling author of If God Was a Banker comes the first ever bitcion thriller. God is a Gamer is a world where money means nothing, martyrs are villains, predators are prey, assassination is taught by the ancient Greeks, and nothing is as it seems.

Moving from Washington’s Congress to Delhi’s finance ministry, the beaches of Goa to the corporate boardrooms of Mumbai, this is Ravi Subramanian’s most gripping novel yet.

Review:

Ravi Subramanian had already raised all expectations with his banking series. Though I haven’t read any of his previous books, ‘Bankster’ is on my To-Read pile since long. ‘God is a Gamer’ being India’s first ever bitcoin thriller, had garnered hopes and thrills from readers in belonging to a niche genre. Banks, currencies, virtual banking, gaming and eventually the introduction of bitcoins should have been more interesting than it turned out to be.

The book began well, I must say. It hooked my interest into the world of bitcoins and virtual money transfer, interspersed with a murder and lot of suspense. Swami, Aditya, Malvika and Sundeep had all started as bankers and diversified into different fields after awhile. Aditya owns a gaming company that Sundeep has helped him build up. The tussle between Malvika and Swami in their banking operations has been pulled off well, though it turned out to be a sub-plot. Then enter Varun and Tanya, the two key protagonists of the story. We see whirlwind romance between them and it is structured pretty well to fit into the story.

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Book Review : Private India

Image Courtesy: Flipkart

Image Courtesy: Flipkart

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When a series of seemingly unconnected murders rock the city of Mumbai with the macabre rituals and artefacts found around the corpses, Private India, a leading investigation agency takes the case. Santosh Wagh, the head of the organization, has only one mission. He needs to stop the killers before they strike again. However, in a city of over 13 million people, he finds that the clock is ticking too fast. He finds himself pitted against underworld dons and a Godman who isn’t what he seems. However, the worst is yet to come and Private India itself may be threatened with a revelation that could destroy the entire organization.

Review: 

Not having read a single James Patterson book might  have been an advantage when I began reading ‘Private India’. There were a few preconceived notions though, having read Ashwin Sanghi before. I had braced myself for a generous helping of mythology with a dollop of thrill and race to find the culprit. The ingredients were still present, but in different proportions.

The book begins with a lot of promise. Two murders in as many chapters give an inkling to the readers that there is a serial killer on the loose. A veteran detective heads the leading investigating agency in Mumbai, which has its counterparts all over the world. His team seems invincible but they aren’t able to find any clue about the killer. Meanwhile, the series of murders continues. Detectives and forensic experts keep working overtime to solve the case, but the clues are hard to find. I think here enters Ashwin Sanghi with his background knowledge and research in Indian history and mythology. The clues are arranged in order of a small portion of Hindu mythology, which in my opinion, could be elaborated for the betterment of young readers.

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Book Review : Love Kills

Image Courtesy: Flipkart

Image Courtesy: Flipkart

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Meet Johnny W – Will, not Walker – named thus by his alcoholic father who died under mysterious circumstances. Johnny is the founder of Thy Will, a dead diction centre for the rich and the famous and the fiance of Mira Kermani, daughter of the richest man in town. His questionable methods aside, Johnny’s commitment to ridding his patients of alcohol and drug abuse is beyond doubt. How ironic then that Mira is found dead in her apartment from an overdose of morphine. But why is Officer Ray convinced that Johnny is the killer? Johnny’s assistant Sera, who secretly love him and his half-brother Zac are working hard to protect him from the officer. Or are they? Could Aunt Adele’s hunger for what was rightfully her sons inheritance have driven her to murder? Or is the murderer an unhappy patient? From the author of the disturbing and controversial Jacob Hills, an unputdownable story of crime and passion in the hill station town of Monele.

Review:

I had wanted to read Ismita Tandon since she’s one of the few women authors penning thrillers with love as the core theme. As the title suggests, this is a tale of love and death. Literally. It is intriguing whether love blooms on dead bodies or death comes riding in a love carriage. Meet the riders in this carriage Johnny, Mira, Sera, Zac, Adele and Officer Ray.

Set in a beautiful  and obscure hill station called Monele near Ooty, ‘Thy Will’ is an alcohol rehabilitation center run by Johnny Will. He prescribes things to his patients that are not strictly legal in a rehab. The idea is pretty unique in its own way. Johnny and Zac, half brothers and cousins have a dark and grimy past that is trapped in the vestiges of Thy Will. Zac’s mother and Johnny’s aunt Adele is a pretty but wasted lady torn in the dilemma of raising a child out of the wedlock.

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Book Review : Once Upon The Tracks Of Mumbai

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Image Courtesy: Flipkart

Image Courtesy: Flipkart

Autistic. Schizophrenic. Psychotic… 

They use these words to describe Babloo the doctors, his family, his teachers everyone except Vandana. She treats him the way he wants the world to see him. 

Mumbai the city that defines his ultimate desires. Will it allow him the love and normalcy he so craves?

Vandana yearns for a soul mate to rescue her from the confines of the Railway Colony they all live in. Is she looking in the right place?

Rail Man a fearless, real-life hero who succeeds in doing all that Babloo secretly wishes to do is Babloo his inspiration or is it the other way around?

A random twist of fate on Mumbais endless, serpent-like, jangling local train tracks ties all these characters together in a complex weave of love, heartbreak, and courage. 

Babloo draws the reader into his fascinating, heart-rending journey through the twisted, choked lanes of Mumbai, into an open space where he can finally exhale, be born again.

Review:

Babloo Srivastav is not your usual colony guy. Bandra Railway colony, that is. He wakes up with the vibrations of the first train in the morning and explores the railway tracks which are his own. He feels more at ease with the tracks and trains than his kin and kith. He doesn’t have any friends but is devoted to his lady love, Vandana. There are mysteries in his life that he isn’t much aware of.

Sounds good enough for a thriller?

The book cover and blurb suggests a love story, probably a one between Babloo and Vandana. But I would surely label the book as a thriller, not a romance. The adventures of Babloo are more important than his obsequious love story. He struggles to find a meaning to his caprices and is guided by an inner voice. Compared to his younger and efficient brother, he’s nothing, really. And yet his steely resolve and demeanour is frightening even to his parents. I can’t reveal the story here, but it is about Babloo turning into a different person altogether to prove himself to his lady.

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