Goodreads blurb: India faces nuclear Armageddon.
A mysterious murder at the Qutub Minar triggers a call to ace journalist Chandrasekhar from his cop acquaintance, Inspector Syed Ali Hassan. The victim is unlike anyone Chandra has ever seen: a white Caucasian male who has all the looks of a throwback to Greek antiquity. Soon after, Hassan calls in to report the case has been taken away from him – in all likelihood by RAW – the Research & Analysis Wing, the uber-agency of Indian intelligence.
What began as a murder enquiry soon morphs into a deadly game of hide-and-seek within the shadowy world of Pakistan’s ISI and India’s RAW; and Chandra, his friend history professor Meenakshi Pirzada and Hassan find themselves in a race against time to avert a sub-continental nuclear holocaust.
As the action moves to its hair-raising climax among the Hindu Kush Mountains of Afghanistan, Chandra must face up to the fact that Inspector Hassan is not all that he seems …
The above blurb does grave injustice to the actual way in which the book begins. The mysterious death of the strange victim at the Qutub Minar forms only a small part of the narrative which sets in motion a crazy chain of events in the main protagonist Chandrasekhar’s life over the course of the next two odd weeks.
Between Chandra, Hassan and Meenakshi, the story travels between time and space in terms of the fact that its genesis lies in Emperor Kanishka’s times and most of the action is centered on the Bamiyan region in Afghanistan where the world famous Buddha statues once stood. As is the norm with espionage thrillers, all is not what it seems for most part of the book, but suffice to say that all the knots are slowly opened, and all secrets revealed at appropriate moments in the book and the end result is more than satisfying.
What I particularly liked about the book was that the author seemed to know the nitty-gritty of the inner workings of the RAW and the ISI. It is one thing to say that this kind of information is easily available on the public domain and can be read and researched by anybody, it is entirely another thing to actually go ahead, do that and come up with a reasonably credible and believable account of the goings on in these shadowy offices. And Aroon Raman comes up trumps, at least in my opinion, on that front with this novel.
What I would have loved to have a little more of would have been more detailing to the characters of Hussain and Meenakshi. While Chandra and his trouble with overcoming the loss of his wife Yamini to cancer have been dealt with at the beginning of the book, the author could have added more flesh to the characters of Hussain and Meenakshi as well, and this would have added more to the chemistry between these three characters. This would have added more sheen to the already sizzling rapport that they share during the action in the book.
This would have to be the third book in recent times that I have read which places a espionage / terrorism thriller in the sub-continental milieu (the first one was Baramulla Bomber by Clark Prasad and the second one was The Taj Conspiracy by Manreet Sodhi Someshwar) and I honestly have to say that it makes for a welcome change compared to all the books in this genre that I have read over the years which are set in other countries all over the world. The fact that these books are set in India, have Indian characters, deal with Indian authorities, and are so credible make them all the more special. I truly believe that Indian writing in this genre is slowly coming of age, and man, am I excited about that or what!
Do read this book if you are a fan of well written, well paced thrillers. This one is a definite page turner, no two ways about that.
|Name||The Shadow Throne|
|Publisher||Pan MacMillan India|