Goodreads blurb: 2020. Mumbai a fetid city, full of crime and violence.
Rising above it, a flattened obelisk of polished black granite, stands the Rustomji Group’s imposing headquarters the One World Tower. And at its very tip, is Babylon, Vishnu Rustomji Mistry’s famous garden on top of the tallest building in Mumbai the centre of its wealth and power.
It’s the day the flamboyant billionaire will make his big announcement. Yet, it’ll be one of the few days in the year when his won’t be the biggest story. It’s the day a letter will be found that could change the meaning of everything. A simple letter, signed ‘The People’s Guardian’, which threatens the Chief Minister with dire consequences.
When model-turned-newscaster Tara and rookie journalist Sudhir Navkar stumble upon clues about this possible vigilante, they are led on a breadcrumb trail from the eerie slums of gangland Mumbai to the high-rise towers of SoBo.
As the two of them try desperately to solve the mystery, they begin to uncover a frightening conspiracy that threatens to cast a shadow on the entire nation and on their lives.
In a choice between love, life and their karm, will they have the courage to pursue the truth?
While the book and its premise of radical individuals resorting to revolutionary measures, this book clearly takes the ‘vigilante’ genre of stories and tries to customize the same using the Indian political system and the surrounding milieu as its base. While that by itself is not too much of a problem, the fact that the authors tried a little too hard to imbibe some extremely popular elements from this genre and didn’t quite succeed was where the book falters a little bit.
For example, Vishnu Mistry’s loss of his parents at a young age with them being gunned down right in front of his eyes reminded me too much of Bruce Wayne who goes on to become the Batman. The fact that both Vishnu and Bruce Wayne were both millionaires who probably had the economic and financial clout throughout their lives was also something that seemed just a little too coincidental for me to ignore. Further, the fact that the authors tried to present the Mumbai of 2020 as a place where crime and criminals rule the roost with the politicians of the day being extremely corrupt also struck me as a little too Gotham-like in its descriptions. With the resemblance to Bruce Wayne and Gotham being so prominent, I simply couldn’t get Batman out of my mind when reading this book, although Vishnu didn’t quite take to donning a mask and a cape and start fighting crime all by himself, a-la the Batman.
The resemblances to Batman notwithstanding, Karm does stand out as quite a good book by itself. An extremely relatable plot, fast paced narrative and decent protagonists in the form of Vishnu, Tara and Sudhir ensure that readers are not bored and the pages of the book turn themselves quite well. And the authors have done just about enough to ensure that character motivations are also quite coherent and none of their actions seem contrived or forced.
Disclaimer: A review copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers in return for a honest and unbiased review.