Hadal – CP Surendran – Book Review


HadalGoodreads blurb: Taking a break from her job in Maldives, young, attractive and unhappily married Miriam lands in Trivandrum, with the idea of writing a novel. Honey Kumar is a police officer in charge of visa extension, on a punishment transfer from Delhi to Trivandrum for graft. Miriam wants to extend her visa. Honey Kumar demands sex in return. When Miriam refuses to comply, he fabricates an espionage charge against her. That Miriam is sleeping with Paul Roy, director of the Indian Space Research Centre, renders Honey Kumar’s job of trapping her easier.

Inspired by a true-life incident, this is an incisive critique of the rot at the heart of India and the corruption, physical and spiritual, that permeates the structures of authority, and how that deep institutional breakdown impacts individual lives.

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Picture this; Miriam is a disgruntled Maldivian Govt Employee who is also a wannabe author who has just quit her job, packed her bags, turned her back on her husband and landed up in Kerala with the intention of penning down her first novel. Oh, and before I forget, she has also had a brief affair with Paul Roy, senior scientist with ISRO who by the way is married and has an eleven year old son and also resides in Trivandrum, Kerala.

Throw into this mix, Honey Kumar, inspector of police who is on a punishment transfer to the Foreigners Regional Registration Office, Trivandrum for having been caught accepting a bribe, and struggling really hard to settle down into his new role, the new city and overall with his new life in general.

What you get when circumstances bring these three in direct contact with each other forms the crux of Hadal by CP Surendran. Although the premise is based on a true story which I somewhat vaguely recollect reading in the newspapers some years ago, the truth is that this book deals more with the characters, their personalities, the myriad motivations for their actions and passion rather than with the true incident on which it is supposedly based.

And this works both ways for the book. While the fact that it is based on true incidents lends quite a bit of credibility to what otherwise seems quite an incredible plot by itself, the fact that the author chose to delve more into the individual characters and their sketches more than the happenings means that this book somewhat gets into philosophical and psychological territory more than I expected it to. In fact, after a point in time, the reader tends to forget the actual goings on in the book and would probably start to concentrate more on the individual characters and their mental make-up more than anything else. If you are the kind of reader who likes such detailed character sketches in your novels, then you would probably enjoy this book quite a bit. However, if you are the sort that likes a good yarn and puts a premium on the happenings more than the characters themselves, then this book might just about disappoint you.

The ending of the book is quite surprising, and quite frankly is worth the trouble of actually reading the book till the very end. While it is quite anti-climactic in nature, readers surely won’t feel cheated or short-changed by the author’s choice as to how to end the book.

Click here to purchase the book from Flipkart [Link] or Amazon [Link].

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A review copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers in return for a honest and unbiased review of the same.

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