Hollow Mountain – Thomas Mogford – Book Review

HollowMountainGoodreads blurb: The late-morning sun beats down on the Rock of Gibraltar as bored tourists photograph the Barbary Apes. A child’s scream pierces the silence as she sees a monkey cradling a macabre trophy. A man’s severed arm.

In the narrow streets of the Old Town below, lawyer Spike Sanguinetti’s friend and colleague is critically injured in a mysterious hit-and-run. Spike must drop everything and return home to Gibraltar, where he is drawn into a case defending a ruthless salvage company hunting for treasure in the Straits.

As Spike battles to save his business, he realizes that his investigations have triggered a terrifying sequence of events, and that everything he holds dear is under threat.


As I had stated sometime earlier my exposure to European fiction is quite limited and therefore when the opportunity to read some well written crime thrillers by European authors presents itself I enjoy myself quite a bit. And Hollow Mountain by Thomas Mogford does not disappoint on any counts, in fact it is more than reasonably competent in this genre.

Set in Gibraltar, about which I know very little or practically nothing of, the book travels almost all of Gibraltar and the areas surrounding Genoa in Italy with Spike Sanguinetti, corporate lawyer who is in search of a girl who has been missing from his life for quite a while now. When his colleague and business partner is injured in a hit and run case, Spike returns home and takes up the case of Neptune Holdings, a shipping company which is engaged in salvaging deep sea wrecks.

This opens up the veritable Pandora’s Box as far as the proceedings in the book are concerned. Pretty soon Spike finds himself embroiled with sunken treasure, corporate skullduggery, blackmail and other assorted crimes of a more violent nature. As if this weren’t enough, the fact that he was looking for the girl in Italy seems to have pissed off some powerful people and they are also hot on Spike’s heels warning him to buzz off or else…

The net result – proceedings in the book move at a breakneck pace while ensuring that readers are not overwhelmed by all that is happening. Slowly, all the pieces of the puzzle start falling in place and the book jogs towards its climax. Suffice to say that readers will not only enjoy Spike as a protagonist but will also mark Gibraltar as a must-see place in their Southern European itineraries if they ever have one.

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


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

Chimera – NJ Tanger – Book Review

ChimeraGoodreads blurb: On the verge of extinction, the Stephen’s Point colony must take desperate measures to save themselves. Without communication or resupply from Earth for the last fifteen years, the colony has but one chance to survive: restore the ancient starship Chimera and train a young crew to pilot her. The fate of the entire colony rests on the shoulders of a pair of misfits: Theo Puck, a sixteen-year-old hacker with a gift for speaking to machines, and fifteen-year-old Selena Samuelson, a brash but talented pilot with a dark secret in her past.

To Theo, the Mandate to crew the Chimera seems like a game—one he isn’t invited to play. A brutal murder changes everything. Left with no choice, Theo has to complete the Selection training and make it aboard the Chimera or face terrible consequences.

Selena wants to do what she does best—fly. Piloting her father’s ore trawler is the only life she’s known before a horrifying accident strands her aboard the Hydra, the station responsible for rebuilding the Chimera. Forced into the Mandate testing against her will, Selena encounters an unexpected ally, forever changing the way she sees the Chimera and herself.

Forced to make brutal choices in order to survive, Theo and Selena’s fates intertwine. But behind the scenes, someone else sets into motion events that could destroy everything they’re fighting to protect.


At the outset let me confess that I personally am not a big fan of self-published authors and am all the more apprehensive when they approach me via mail or Facebook asking for a review of the books they have authored. But then every once in a while I do come across gems like Chimera (first of the Universe Eventual series) authored by N, J and Tanger (yes, these are three separate authors).

As the blurb states, this dystopian young adult fantasy novel deals with events in the far future where indentured humans staying on a separate planet Stephen’s Moon are in trouble as the supply ships from Earth have stopped arriving all of fifteen years ago, and they must now take desperate measures to ensure their survival. Their only chance out of this mess is the eponymous spaceship Chimera which has been lying dormant quietly orbiting their planet all this time after it delivered them there.

In this mix find themselves the main protagonists Theo Puck, a young teenager who is known more for his hacking abilities rather than anything else and Selena Samuelson, a teenage pilot of a spaceship which mines asteroids for precious ecomire. The novel moves back and forth between the narratives of these youngsters until they both bump into each other on Hydra, the space station which is rebuilding Chimera.

Interspersed with the usual teenage angst and other relevant issues of the age, this novel succeeds wonderfully well in its world building endeavors. We readers are transported to Stephen’s Point, its landscapes, views, way of life, the people, the culture and its history with ease. In fact the world is so immersive that one tends to forget that this is not Earth but a penal colony where indentured humans were sent seven generations ago.

The protagonists are ably supported by other characters such as Meghan, Theo’s friend, Liam, Selena’s father, Quartermaster West, and the strange, suspicious Marcus Locke who happens to be pivotal in moving Theo’s portion of the story forward at quite a breakneck pace.

All in all a tightly woven tapestry of dystopian young adult fantasy, the second book of which I will surely eagerly await for.

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


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

The Colonel Who Would Not Repent – Salil Tripathi – Book Review

TheColonelWhoWouldNotRepentGoodreads blurb: ‘Salil Tripathi brings together the narrative skill of a novelist and the analytical tools of a political journalist to give us the story of a nation that is absorbing, haunting and illuminating.’ Kamila Shamsie, author of A God in Every Stone.

Between March and December 1971, the Pakistani army committed atrocities on an unprecedented scale in the country’s eastern wing. Pakistani troops and their collaborators were responsible for countless deaths and cases of rape. Clearly, religion alone wasn’t enough to keep Pakistan’s two halves united. From that brutal violence, Bangladesh emerged as an independent nation, but the wounds have continued to fester. The gruesome assassination of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the country’s charismatic first prime minister and most of his family, the coups and counter-coups which followed, accompanied by long years of military rule were individually and collectively responsible for the country’s inability to come to grips with the legacy of the Liberation War.

Four decades later, as Bangladesh tries to bring some accountability and closure to its blood-soaked past through controversial tribunals prosecuting war crimes, Salil Tripathi travels the length and breadth of the country probing the country’s trauma through interviews with hundreds of Bangladeshis. His book offers the reader an unforgettable portrait of a nation whose political history since Independence has been marked more by tragedy than triumph.


For somebody who prides himself on knowing more than quite a bit of current affairs, this book was a revelation in the sense that it opened up a whole new neighborhood in the form of the history of the formation of East Pakistan and subsequently the birth of Bangladesh to me. In fact, this book was so good that it managed to change my entire point of view on the partition of India and Pakistan in 1947 as well.

Dealing with topics such as the birth of Pakistan, the influence that Sheikh Mujibur Rahman managed to exert on the whole of East Pakistan, the issues that East Pakistan had in terms of its cultural and regional identity being at loggerheads with West Pakistan all the time, the political upheaving that the Pakistani elections of 1971 caused, the author Salil Tripathi provides us with a fairly unbiased view of how the Bangladeshi crisis was aggravated in the first place. I personally found this portion of the book to be very revealing in that it helped me get a broader understanding of the political dynamics of the partition of India and Pakistan in 1947 and the subsequent challenges that East Pakistan faced in terms of integrating with the larger and more influential West Pakistan. It also clearly highlighted how the West played ‘big brother’ to the East only on paper when the reality was that it clearly detested the East for more reasons than one.

The next portion of the book goes into great detail as to how the West initiates Operation Searchlight in March’71 which sets in motion a large chain of events over the next 9-10 months of the year in which armed conflict, its consequences on the larger populace of East Pakistan, the intervention of the Indian Armed Forces in the conflict and the subsequent declaration of independence of East Pakistan and the birth of a new nation Bangladesh is chronicled in great detail.

The book goes on to discuss war crimes such as rape and genocide rampantly committed by the West Pakistani army and its sympathizers and its impact on the overall Bangladeshi people. The fact that most of these crimes and its perpetrators are still unpunished and operate with impunity in national politics is something that still rankles the victims’ families and remains one of those inconvenient truths that the government tries to hide under the carpet. Chronicling various incidents and victims’ stories, this book presents quite a vivid picture of how armed conflict in any region of the world leaves behind volumes of untold stories of what is usually termed ‘collateral damage’ by governments and armed forces. A reading of this portion of the book simply goes on to highlight the severe impact that armed conflict in any part of the world has on the common man and his life who invariably is caught in a crossfire which is not his own making in most cases. The futility of violence as an option to resolve issues is yet again brought to the fore in this portion of the book.

The book finally ends chronicling the recent political developments in Bangladesh over the last two decades where the two prominent women politicians (both daughters of men who played significant roles in the liberation of the country) have ended up ensuring that the ‘politics of vendetta’ takes precedence over more pressing issues such as development of the nation itself.

What struck me as important and critical about this book was the fact that more than anything else, the East Pakistanis felt isolated from West Pakistan primarily due to the fact that they were not allowed to continue to live in harmony with the Bengali culture that they had followed all these years. A culture which assimilated Hindu, Muslim, Chakma and various other tribal faiths, beliefs, gods, goddesses, food and language was suddenly forced to adhere to strictly Islamic ideals and this, more than anything else, led to a whole lot of ‘bad blood’ both literally and figuratively between the Western and Eastern parts of Pakistan. In my opinion, this was yet another example where narrow minded politicians used religion, language and culture as weapons to achieve their personal goals of coming to power and staying there for as long as they possibly can. I wonder if today’s politicians of the region (and even the world over) will ever learn lessons from these episodes from history.

You can purchase the book from Flipkart [Link] or Amazon [Link].


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

The City Son – Samrat Upadhyay – Book Review

TheCitySon_SamratUpadhyayGoodreads blurb: When Didi discovers that her husband, the Masterji, has been hiding his beautiful lover and their young son Tarun in a nearby city, she takes the Masterji back into her grasp and expels his second family. Tarun’s mother, heartsick and devastated, slowly begins to lose her mind, and Tarun turns to Didi for the mothering he longs for.

But as Tarun gets older, Didi’s domination of the boy turns from the emotional to the physical, and the damages she inflicts spiral outward, threatening to destroy Tarun’s one true chance at true happiness.


When his mother walks out on his father, Masterji, what Tarun doesn’t quite bargain for is her slow descent into depression and a mental condition where he is left all alone in the world without anybody to really love and care for him. In this situation, he turns to the first person that even remotely seems to care for him, Didi, Masterji’s first wife. And soon, the situation spirals out of control for everybody involved, as Didi seems to have more than just motherly love and affection on her mind.

In this dark deeply disturbing narrative, the author Samrat Upadhyay masterfully weaves a story around a dysfunctional family with the protagonist being the only son of an unwed mother, and how he falls for the trap set by his father’s first wife. What initially starts off looking like normal maternal instincts soon degenerates into a full blown scandal where there is more to the relationship between these two than meets the eye.

Narrating from the viewpoint of Tarun from the time he is on the brink of his adolescence to the time he is in his mid-twenties, the author takes us through the various phases in his life with ease. He manages to capture the awkwardness of the onset of puberty, the changing relationship dynamics as Tarun realizes that Didi is more than just a step-mother to him, the nature of the camaraderie that he shares with Sumit, his youngest foster brother, how his father Masterji slowly realizes the gravity of the situation that he has put Tarun in and his helplessness in not being able to do anything about it at all. Given that this book primarily deals with the voices in Tarun’s head and how he manages to cope with his search for love, this book is extremely consistent with its point of view.

The author has made a brave choice of topic for the narrative and the book is quite taut and gripping in the sense that it shocks the reader with its progression. What starts off as an innocent relationship with Tarun looking for love soon descends into something a lot more disturbing and distressing. Kudos to the author for having chosen this tricky subject and managing to write an eminently readable novel about it without getting preachy. The choice of simple English interspersed with the local dialect at places also makes for easy reading.

This book is a sure-shot read for readers who like narratives that deal with serious topics, complex human relationships and coming-of-age books. Click on the following links to purchase the book from Flipkart [Link] or Amazon [Link].


Disclaimer: A review copy of this book was offered to me by the publishers, but the review is completely unbiased.

Under Delhi – Sorabh Pant – Book Review

UnderDelhiGoodreads blurb: ‘If you’re being raped, call your perpetrator “bhaiya” and he will stop.’ – Asaram Bapu, ‘holyman’

‘Chowmein and fast food causes rapes.’ – Haryana Khap Panchayat

‘(Some) Women protesting rape are dented and painted.’ – Abhijit Mukherjee, the President’s son

Ladies: throw away your pepper sprays. You don’t need them as long as your lips are armed with the potent word, ‘bhaiya’.

Fire at will.

Don’t eat fast food. Eating needs you to use your mouth in front of men, which is just ‘asking for it’. Always agree to any man’s sexual proposition – just say, ‘Yes’, to everyone.

Most importantly, before making any wardrobe choices, do consult with the President’s son. He’s never too busy to help you out with his insightful fashion tips.

OR, ignore these wise words and go out and kick men like that in the grapes and fight back.

That’s what I do. This is that story.

The story of Tanya Bisht, over and under Delhi.


The author Sorabh Pant has made quite a name for himself in the stand-up comedy circuit in India and in fact is considered among the Top 10 Comedians of India today, and it therefore goes without saying that this book, Under Delhi is deliciously funny, albeit in a darkly morbid kind of way. Make no mistake about it, this book clearly falls under the genre of ‘black comedy’.

As the book blurb highlights, the author clearly is pissed off with how the nation and its leaders have reacted to the plight of women and the absolute lack of security they enjoy in Delhi. The (in)famous quotes from the so-called ‘leaders’ and ‘wise men’ of society that he has highlighted convey more about the misogynistic male chauvinistic attitudes that is so prevalent across almost all Indian men today. And this book is probably the author’s way of communicating his frustration at these happenings in India today.

His main protagonist Tanya Bisht is a female vigilante by night, dishing out her own unique brand of justice to avenge a wrong committed on her in the past. Abandoned by her parents at a very young age, Tanya is a self-made girl in every sense of the world, and despite her extraordinarily warped world view and weird sense of right and wrong, she strikes us as someone that we can easily relate to. Her everyday life during the daytime is something that most of us lead, a humdrum existence in a ‘go nowhere’ job with a builder, a competitive colleague who doesn’t hesitate to stab her in the back to get into the boss’ good books, a boyfriend who is more of a tool for physical gratification than anything else, and so on.

But it is in the nights that Tanya transforms into an avenging angel (or devil, based on which side of justice you are on). Her modus operandi is simple and her track record impeccable; at least she thinks so until her next target Ramesh Gill comes into focus. With his arrival, the narrative takes an interesting turn and readers get to know a whole lot more about Tanya, her past, her motivations and probably her future as well.

Does Tanya manage to repay Ramesh Gill for his past wrong-doings, or has she bitten off more than she can chew, forms the crux of the rest of the story. Suffice to say that the proceedings are anything but dull, and are truly representative of Delhi (and even the whole of India) and its attitude towards women in general.

What I really liked about the book is that although it deals with a fairly sensitive and important subject, not once does the author condescend to giving gyaan to readers. His sincere attempt has to been to use satire as a medium through which he conveys the all-important message that he does. And the black humor that he has injected in the book remains intact through all the action which ensures that readers are kept entertained throughout the narrative.

In conclusion, this book is a thoroughly enjoyable breezy read. Go ahead and purchase this book from Flipkart [Link] or Amazon [Link]. Yes, I will make a small commission when you do so, but your purchase price will not increase.

Disclaimer: A review copy of this book was offered to me by the publisher, but the review is completely unbiased and independent.

Related Information

Book Under Delhi
Author/s Sorabh Pant
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