The Karachi Deception – Shatrujeet Nath – Book Review


TheKarachiDeception

Goodreads blurb: Project Abhimanyu — an audacious plot hatched by the RAW and Indian Army intelligence to assassinate Mumbai’s dreaded underworld don Irshad Dilawar, who’s hiding in Pakistan and assisting the ISI in its proxy war against India.

Major Imtiaz Ahmed is picked to lead the special ops mission deep inside Pakistan — but the ISI and Dilawar are several steps ahead of the Indians. Beaten at every turn, Major Imtiaz is faced with the horrifying realization that Project Abhimanyu has been compromised… and his men are being lured into a deadly trap.

Set against the backdrop of global terrorism, Shatrujeet Nath’s debut novel is a quintessential spy thriller where nothing is what it seems — and treachery is a constant companion.

——————————

While The Karachi Deception is the debut book of author Shatrujeet Nath, it is not the first book of his that I read. In fact I so thoroughly enjoyed The Guardians of Halahala (link to my review) that it prompted me to pick this book of his and man, was this book fun to read or what.

Having been brought up on a staple diet of Frederick Forsyth and some other really good spy thriller writers, I have been exposed to more than my fair share of books in this genre. Add to this the fact that I absolutely enjoy watching movies as well in the spy action thriller genre meant that I have had more than my fair share of exposure to stories and plots in this genre. And believe me when I say this The Karachi Deception can easily be put alongside some of the all-time great books of this genre and can easily stand its ground when compared with them as well.

As the blurb reads, the narrative itself deals with Project Abhimanyu, an operation involving three Indian commandos deep inside Pakistan who find themselves being outsmarted, outwitted and in general failing at every step of their mission. The reasons for their failures, their subsequent Plan B (and even Plan C), the frenetic working-behind-the-scenes at the Project HQ back in India and the final confrontation, all of these make up for a true blue page turner, blockbuster of a book.

Given that the setting is so close to home, the protagonist based on a famous gangster that most of us are aware of, and the overarching plot involving global terrorism in our own neighborhood, it was a no-brainer that I would go on to enjoy the book. And the fact that the author has managed to weave a thoroughly researched, well-paced, and wonderfully written book using all of the above elements meant that this is one book that was a breezy read. Here’s hoping that the author manages to pull out some time from his Vikramaditya trilogy of books and churns out a few more in this genre, as this book clearly proves that he truly has the flair to write some really good books in this genre as well.

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

Chilli, Chicks & Heart Attacks – Sanjaya Senanayake – Book Review


CCH

Book blurb: Dr Manju Mendis, a Sri Lankan living in Australia, comes through medical school with first class honors and is chosen to intern in the much vaunted St Ivanhoe Hospital. But right from the word go, the author leaves the reader in no doubt that this is no mere diary of hospital life.

Even as Manju deals with the rigors of an exacting job, he finds himself in the midst of a series of misadventures – from a prolonged case of priapism, to the ‘murder’ of a well-heeled ‘sugardaddiphile’, to a sudden encounter with a foul-mouthed braggart. Worse, his personal life is on the verge of being wrecked, what with an overbearing mother determined to set him up with a prosperous Sri Lankan girl, a father who fails to understand his disconnect from his homeland’s culture, and a sister inclined to saddle him with her young son.

In the span of a year, Manju must learn to confront fraudulent specialists, self-important clients, and an imperious set of immigrant relatives. Equally, he must find time to sustain his friends and relationships – with patients, colleagues, celebrities and most importantly with a troubled past.

==================

At the outset let me be honest and state that I picked up the book primarily based on its catchy title – Chilli, Chicks & Heart Attacks. I mean, how many of us can resist reading a book with a name like that. And true to its cheeky name, the book itself is a tongue-in-cheek look at one year in the life of a medical intern at St Ivanhoe’s Hospital in Australia.

Written in the style of a diary, the author Sanjaya Senanayake narrates the events that transpire in the life of Dr Manju Mendis, the protagonist in the one year that he serves as a medical intern in the prestigious St Ivanhoe’s Hospital. As if being a Sri Lankan in Australia was not funny enough, Manju has all the trappings of a classic molly-coddled mama’s (and papa’s) boy as most Sri Lankan immigrants in Australia do. Couple this with the fact that his year as intern throws more than quite a few daunting medical and non-medical challenges his way, and lo and behold, you have a true-blue coming of age story. Does Manju emerge out his troubles the way a beautiful butterfly emerges from its ugly cocoon or does he succumb to the pressures and wilt away into nothingness is what the overarching story arc of the book is about.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book due to many reasons, primary among them being the fact that Manju, as the protagonist and the situations he faces are so completely relatable. Despite the fact that I am not Sri Lankan nor am I an immigrant in another country, the fact that the author manages to bring out so many everyday situations which I am sure all readers can relate to, speaks volumes for how well the author has managed to translate all our everyday lives into the protagonist’s life in the book. And what’s better Manju’s reactions, the way he tackles these situations, his approach to life in general, all of these resonated so well with me.

Another reason why I thoroughly enjoyed this book was the tongue-in-cheek humorous way in which the author takes a look at the medical profession in general. Not once in the book does he deride or poke fun at the profession or at doctors, but using only the ‘bad apples’ ie, the bad doctors and their malpractices, the author clearly brings down the façade that most of these ‘big famous’ doctors and hospital hide behind. Using patients and their ailments and conditions as the backdrop, the author brings to fore some of the rot that ails the hospital system in general without being too overbearing and preachy about it. After all, this is a coming of age story and not a book which looks to highlight these ills in particular.

End of day, this is one book which is a quick breezy weekend read which shouldn’t trouble readers too much while ensuring that they have more than a few laughs when reading it.

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

The Emperor’s Riddles – Satyarth Nayak – Book Review


TheEmperorsRiddles

Goodreads blurb: More terrifying than the savage murder of historian Ram Mathur on the ghats of Ganga, are the questions that follow. Desperate for answers, Sia turns to esoteric writer & friend Om Patnaik. But what begins as a hunt for the killer, becomes an extraordinary trail of riddles strewn across the country that must end at the gates of an enigma.

An ancient enigma so powerful that even gods would kill for it!!!

In another time and space, rules an Emperor who plays with phenomenal forces that make him supreme…who faces these very forces when they threaten the survival of the human race. An Emperor who must ultimately pay homage to the enigma…

As Patnaik and Sia race from one riddle to another, towards a royal secret that has remained alive for centuries….will the final truth, save them or destroy them forever?

The path beckons. Can you solve The Emperor’s Riddles?

————————-

While the blurb of the book piqued my interest in reading it quite a bit I must confess that I wasn’t quite prepared for how interesting the book actually is and how obsessed I would get in finishing it. Travails of being a book lover, I guess. That being said, I have to admit this has to be among the better books I have read in recent times in terms of how the plot is constructed, the pace at which it unfolds and ultimately how it all ends up.

As the blurb states what starts off as a murder mystery soon metamorphoses into a treasure hunt (which seems like a ‘wild goose hunt’ at times to both the principal characters Om and Sia). As they keep solving riddles one after the other and move across the length and breadth of the country, the author segues into the Emperor’s life (yes, the eponymous Emperor whose riddles they are solving) and gives readers an insight into why he designed the riddles in the first place. Do Om and Sia succeed in their quest, what they gain at the end of it, what they lose at the end of their journey, these questions form the crux of the climax.

The one grouse, if I can call it that, would be the somewhat dragged out ending, especially the last five odd pages or so. While the ending is perfectly logical and all loose ends are tied up, somehow it seemed a little contrived to me, especially given the clarity with which the rest of the plot unraveled itself. However, it is not so bad that I would dissuade you from reading the book, in fact, I would strongly recommend the same, especially for any fans of Dan Brown and similar authors.

To me, this book would remain in my memory as one of the best books in which the plot manages to seamlessly combine fact, fiction, history, mythology and good old fashioned thrills into a coherent enjoyable story.

——————————

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

Donoor’s Curse – Sharath Komarraju – Book Review


DonoorsCurse

Goodreads blurb: Devdutt Pathak likes to be left alone. Alone with his whiskey. Alone with his memories. Memories of a pregnant woman and her child dying on his operating table. Memories of his practicing license being revoked. Memories of being suspended. Ostracized.

Until the death of his godfather, Jahangir Khan, shakes him out of his stupor.

The world says that it’s an accident, but something deep within calls out to Dev. Aided by the clues Jahangir leaves him, he sets out to unravel the truth. What was Baba after? What did he want? How did he live? And how did he die? Most of all, what did he have to do with this tiny mist-covered village called Donoor, where dark shapes lurk behind every shadow?

Donoor. The village of twins. The village of mysterious deaths. The village of curses. The village which, like Dev, wants to be left alone.

In his quest for answers, Dev must face faceless demons. Some of them leap at him from within the thickening fog. Some reside in the recesses of his mind. Some whisper to him frailly, in forgotten voices, from the long dead past. But they all watch him. He must look them in the eye. And not flinch.

A thriller that will surprise and delight you at every turn.

=======================

Very few books have the ability to capture your attention right from the first page, the first paragraph and ensure that you don’t put the book down until you have completed it. For sure, Donoor’s Curse by Sharath Komarraju is one of them. And this from somebody who doesn’t even particularly like the genre it belongs to – paranormal mysteries.

Dev Pathak, as the blurb states, is a broken man. Carrying too much baggage from his past professional life, he is trying to put back his life together again when the death of his godfather jolts him into reality (or something like that). One thing leads to another and pretty soon Dev finds himself in the mysterious village of Donoor. And does the village ‘welcome’ him in style or what.

What happens to Dev in  Donoor, whether the questions regarding his godfather’s accident are answered or not, and whether Dev manages to put his life back on track or not are some of the conundrums the rest of the plot resolves. Suffice to say that the plot itself, the setting Donoor, the characters and their back stories, all of these manage to pull readers into the mysterious mist that always seems to cover the village.

More than anything else, this book is about whether the protagonist manages to fight the demons of his past, how he goes about it while suspending his disbelief of what is happening around him, whether he manages to navigate the mine-field of difficulties and opportunities in his path ahead, and whether things manage to reach a logical conclusion at all. In a nutshell, this book is a lovely read to an already wonderful portfolio of books authored by Sharath Komarraju.

Click here to purchase the book from Amazon (e-book only) [Amazon link].

—————————–

A review copy of this book was given to me by the author in return for an honest and unbiased review of the same.

The Narrow Road to Palem – Sharath Komarraju – Book Review


TheNarrowRoadToPalem
Goodreads blurb
: Rudrakshapalem lies a few kilometers East of Godavari in the South Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. At first glance, it looks like just another sleepy little village. But as you walk along its borders and peer into the lives of its people, you will find that deep within its breast are hidden some dark secrets.

– In the temple compound roams a crazy man named Chander. He hugs a gold pendant and sings lullabies to it every night. What is his story?

– Subbarao, one of Palem’s richest men, came up the hard way, having started life as the poor son of a snack seller. But what is the secret that gives him sleepless nights?

– A young couple dealing with loss stand in front of the road to Palem, and there is a seller of mirrors on the sidewalk, welcoming them in. Will they heed his words, or will they run away?

– How much are happiness and peace worth to Rama Shastri, the priest of Palem’s Shiva temple? And to what extent will he go to ensure the well-being of his daughter?

In these ten delightful stories, Sharath Komarraju takes you by the hand and gives you a fully guided tour of Palem and its people. But don’t fear, he will bring you back home safe and sound, long before it’s dark.

——————————-

Regular readers of my blog will know that I am quite a big fan of Sharath Komarraju and his work. In fact I would go far enough to call myself a die-hard fan of his work, and it therefore is quite a travesty that it took me so long to get around to reading The Narrow Road to Palem, his collection of supernatural stories. And given that it is a collection of short stories, I have gone ahead and penned down a couple of sentences about each of them below.

Subbai and his Ace of Clovers – Kind of guessable story, but intriguing nevertheless and the ending takes the cake for sure.

Malli – A more conventional edge of seat thriller with quite an unexpected ending.

Round and Round – As seems to be the norm with all the stories in this book, the ending is brilliant. What I particularly liked about this book was the role that the setting and the environment had to play, it was almost like I was there when the action was happening.

The Milk is sour – Now this story truly takes the cake so far, especially with the choice of the unlikeliest of antagonists.

The Narrow Road to Palem – This eponymous story is probably not as good as the ones preceding it, but has enough intrigue and insight into the human psyche. And I personally didn’t quite see the ending coming the way it did.

The Sitarist of Palem – Now this story was a bit more ‘classic horror’ in its treatment and quite a departure from the way the rest of the stories in this anthology have been written with in terms of style and treatment of the subject.

Peaceful are the dead – An extremely grim tale following the classic tenets of a horror story, at least in my opinion. Although you could see the end coming, the way the author has dealt with it is quite nice.

The barber and the milkmaid – This one is quite a chilling tale. It deals with the limits that a man goes to when driven by insanity and unfulfilled desires.

Dear House – This has to be one of the most ‘completely cuckoo’ stories that I have read in a while. The premise of the story is something that doesn’t quite grab you by the throat but slowly creeps up on you, just like all good story plots should.

No yellow in my rainbow – This story kind of seems like a culmination of the rest of the stories in this wonderful collection. I kind of find it hard to classify this story into any of the other genres in this book, but it just felt right to end this book with this story.

To wrap up, I wouldn’t slot this book in the classical horror genre but would rather put it in the psychological thriller genre. One way or the other, fans of the horror genre of books would surely enjoy it quite a bit.

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

——————————–

Disclaimer: A review copy of this book was provided to me by the author, however, the above review and opinions are honest and unbiased.