The Karachi Deception – Shatrujeet Nath – Book Review


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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.

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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].

My grandmother sends her regards & apologises – Fredrik Backman – Book Review


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Goodreads blurb: From the author of the internationally bestselling ‘A Man Called Ove’, a novel about a young girl whose grandmother dies and leaves behind a series of letters, sending her on a journey that brings to life the world of her grandmother’s fairy tales.

Elsa is seven years old and different. Her grandmother is seventy-seven years old and crazy, standing-on-the-balcony-firing-paintball-guns-at-men-who-want-to-talk-about-Jesus-crazy. She is also Elsa’s best, and only, friend. At night Elsa takes refuge in her grandmother’s stories, in the Land of Almost-Awake and the Kingdom of Miamas where everybody is different and nobody needs to be normal.

When Elsa’s grandmother dies and leaves behind a series of letters apologizing to people she has wronged, Elsa’s greatest adventure begins. Her grandmother’s letters lead her to an apartment building full of drunks, monsters, attack dogs, and totally ordinary old crones, but also to the truth about fairytales and kingdoms and a grandmother like no other.

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Now with a name like that and a cover like that any book lover worth his salt will find it hard not to pick this book up and read it, and true to its unconventional name and interesting cover, the book lives up to the ‘unconventional’ tag that most people will attribute to it. In fact so much so that it runs the danger of not being read completely. The initial slowness and uniqueness of the narrative can and will probably overwhelm most readers, but trust me when I say this, stick with the book beyond the first 20 odd pages and you will be taken on what ends up being quite a lovely pleasant journey.

As the blurb states, an ‘almost’ eight year old girl’s life is completely overturned when her best friend, her grandmother passes away. Gone are the days when Elsa could come home, cry her heart out, talk her heart out, argue about seemingly trivial things with her grandmother. With her passing, Elsa’s grandmother takes away most of what seems good to Elsa about her short life so far. She is completely at a loss as to what to do next, how to live the rest of her life.

And it is in this context that the final ‘treasure hunt’ that her grandmother sets her upon assumes importance. This gives Elsa a ‘purpose to her life’, an overarching noble goal to strive for, a final chance to prove to her grandmother that she is indeed worthy of all the trust that her grandmother reposed in her. That being said, the treasure hunt puts Elsa in the path of all the tenants and residents of the apartment building that she has spent all her life.

In fact it tests little Elsa’s courage and fortitude to an extent that even the little one couldn’t have imagined. As the treasure hunt crosses stage after stage Elsa soon realizes that it is more of a discovery of her grandmother’s past and her grandmother’s personality. With each stage, Elsa learns more about her grandmother as a person, and as an individual completely unique and different from how she knew her. The rest of the narrative takes us readers along on this bittersweet journey of Elsa where she figures out a lot of her grandmother’s past which explains the personalities of all her neighbors and their stories.

At the end of the book, readers are left with what can only be described as an extremely ‘warm’ feeling in their hearts and a beatific smile on their faces. The impact that this little girl’s treasure hunt has on us readers is nothing short of magical and therein lies the charm of this uniquely unconventional paperback.

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 publisher in return for an honest and unbiased review of the same.

Patang – Bhaskar Chattopadhyay – Book Review


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Goodreads blurb: ‘I hate the rain…I hate it, hate it, hate it. But the rain can’t stop me. No one can…I’ll go out and play tonight. I will kill only four. No more, no less. Just four.’

In the midst of one of the worst monsoons in Mumbai, a man is found brutally murdered, his body posed like a kite on the tallest cell tower in the city. As one corpse after another turns up in the unlikeliest of places, each gruesomely killed and carefully arranged in a grotesque manner, the Mumbai Police realize they have more on their hands than they can deal with.

Enter Chandrakant Rathod, a maverick investigator the police turn to in times of need, who plays by his own rules and lives for the thrill of the chase. Pitting his sharp instincts against the machinations of the sadistic, ruthless killer, the detective succeeds in nabbing the psychopath and putting him behind bars. Then, three months later, the killings begin again. A deadly game is afoot – a game that will challenge Rathod to the utmost, for it is a game that he cannot hope to win…

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Very few books have the ability to hook you right from page one, line one, word one and keep you hooked till that last page, last line and last word. And believe me when I say this Patang by Bhaskar Chattopadhyay is one surprising candidate for such a book. Given that I was sent a review copy of this book by the publishers without even asking for it, the only reason I picked it up and read it almost immediately was the cover design, the back blurb and the relatively smallish size of the book. And man, did it turn out to be quite an enjoyable experience or what!

While most well written crime thrillers and more so murder mysteries are always a joy to read, the happiness is doubled when the setting is local and the characters Indian as the ability to relate to the narrative is that much more when compared to books by Western authors. And when the book is as well thought out, scripted and narrated in a crisp, cut-throat, and breathless manner like the author has with this one, then the joy is more than quadrupled.

Trying to write murder mysteries involving serial killers is always tricky as the author has to walk a thin rope balancing the development of the character of the antagonist with relatively credible motives while making the narrative interesting enough for readers to thoroughly enjoy the book. And to his credit the author has balanced both these disparate ends very well coming up with a crackerjack of a first half. And as if the first half was not good enough, the second half takes us readers on a dizzying roller-coaster of a ride with the lovely cat and mouse chase between the protagonist and the antagonist.

And the ending, well, that portion, to me, took the cake and the entire pastry shop with it. I didn’t see it coming the way it did at all. Full credit to the author for having made it so shocking while being entirely believable and credible as well. For sure any homicide thriller lover worth his name should surely read and enjoy this book.

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

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

Killing Floor – Lee Child – Book Review


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Goodreads blurb: Killing Floor is the first book in the phenomenal bestselling Jack Reacher series by Lee Child. It introduces Reacher for the first time, as the tough ex-military cop of no fixed abode. Trained to think fast and act faster, he is the perfect action hero for men and women alike.

Margrave is a no-account little town in Georgia. Jack Reacher jumps off a bus and walks fourteen miles in the rain to reach it, an arbitrary detour in search of a dead guitar player.

But Margrave has just had its first homicide in thirty years. And Reacher is the only stranger in town. So he is thrown into jail. As the body count mounts, only one thing is for sure: they picked the wrong guy to take the fall.

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Although I quite enjoyed Jack Reacher, the movie starring Tom Cruise based on the eponymous character created by Lee Child, I didn’t quite get around to actually buying the books themselves until sometime last year, and funnily enough it took me all this while to get around to reading them as well, and what better place to begin with than the first book in the Jack Reacher series, Killing Floor.

As the blurb reads Reacher gets off a bus near Margrave, a sleepy town in Georgia and is making his way into town when he gets arrested for homicide, the first the town has seen in thirty years. Little does he know that this unfortunate coincidence has a deeper connection to him than he could possibly have imagined. And what’s worse little do the town’s residents know that their lives, as they know it, will never be the same in the future after the chain of events this arrest sets in motion.

Pretty soon Margrave sees it second homicide in thirty years and then a third one is also discovered, and Reacher finds himself embroiled deeper and deeper into what’s unfolding during his brief time in this sleepy town. Relying on his years of invaluable experience as a homicide investigator for the armed forces, and trusting his razor sharp instincts and chess-player like brain Reacher soon proves invaluable in the larger motive behind these homicides. What unfolds is nothing short of shocking and way beyond Reacher’s wildest imagination.

Without giving any more spoilers, suffice to say that the investigation that follows and the action that takes place in the rest of the book will leave even the most hardcore detective and homicide genre fans fairly breathless with the sheer scale of the plot and the crisp pace at which the action moves along. Not one word is wasted in this 500+ page book and for sure this plot provides a wonderful introduction to the character of Jack Reacher.

What I particularly liked about the book was that throughout the book, the author almost always uses unambiguous logic and hard facts to drive the action and doesn’t rely on coincidences or divine providences to bring up a sudden twist in the proceedings. That to me is the hallmark of all the homework that Lee Child did when plotting and etching out the characters and the narrative of this book.

In a nutshell, as mentioned before Killing Floor is a worthy debut for one of paperback literature’s most enigmatic homicide investigators Jack Reacher. A must-read for all fans of the crime thriller genre.

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

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


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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.

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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].