The Princess in Black – Upendra Dharmadhikari – Book Review


Book blurb from indiabookstore : The Taj Mahal is going to be blown off and with it the visiting ex – President of USA. Or so has been impeccably planned by Major Salim Khan, an undercover ISI operative.

The only clue that the intelligence agencies have is the enigmatic Object No. 27, a rare Mughal relic that they don’t have much information about. History Professor Narayan Shastri, along with the best men from Indian Intelligence, try to unlock the code.

And then there is Saima, the mysterious beauty who found Object No 27 in the first place. She and Professor Shastri travel through the annals of a history rich with deceit-bloody battles of conquests, the satin veil of treachery and even the elegant, imperious walls built of red sandstone and white marble-to know more of the impending attack and each other more deeply.

Can they stop Major Khan from unleashing his act of terror on the marble monument of love? Precious hands of time are ticking away – Tick. Tick. Tick.
As the book blurb clearly brings out this book belongs to what I call “The Da Vinci Code” genre. It therefore has all the necessary elements, one protagonist who has the brains and the necessary background required to solve the clues (Prof Narayan Shastri), one protagonist who is unwittingly pulled into the scheme of things (Saima), a couple of cops with troubled pasts, a disaster of large proportions (the impending bombing of the Taj Mahal), a narrative which keeps shuffling between the past and the present (the Mughal empire and some stories from Babur, Humayun, Akbar, Jahangir, Shah Jahan, Aurangzeb, Roshanara and Jahanara), a race against time.

Now go ahead and check all the boxes and fill in all the paragraphs with relevant information and lo and behold, you have a customized version of The Da Vinci Code of your own, obviously not as explosive and controversial, but a book from this genre nevertheless.

While the book itself is a competent debut from the authors, the fact that this book and its plot reminded me a little too much of Manreet Sodhi Someshwar’s “The Taj Conspiracy” [Link to my review]which was published sometime in early 2013 was something that kept bugging me to no end. And the fact that I absolutely loved that book and its main protagonist was extremely memorable didn’t help this book at all.

Where this book suffers is with the characterization of the protagonists. While Prof Shastri strikes us as someone knowledgable and likeable, he simply doesn’t stay with our subconscious either while reading the book or after it, for that matter. While the authors have attempted to make him an Indian version of Robert Langdon in line with the genre, they haven’t succeeded.

And while the ending was something that I saw coming from a mile away, the book was interesting enough to keep me reading just to see how it would be presented. And just like a complaint that I have with more than a few books by Indian authors in recent days, this one too was just a little too filmy for me to digest. I guess the influence of masala and kitsch movies is showing on how our authors end their books as well. The ending and the fact that there were some logical inconsistencies in one part of the book was also something I found a little too jarring. The editors haven’t quite done a tight job with the manuscript and it shows, at least in one portion of the book.

Would I recommend this book to you? Sure, if you are looking for a quick read, nothing too serious and like reasonably well written predictable thrillers.

Would I strongly recommend it to you? Probably not.

PS: For some reason, this book is not added on Goodreads at all, and that simply doesn’t make any sense to me. I mean, who doesn’t add their books to Goodreads nowadays.

PPS: You can purchase the book from Flipkart by clicking on this link [Link]
This review was commissioned by the author, however, all the views presented here are completely unbiased and my own.


Name The Princess in Black : An unheard story of the Mughals
Author/s Upendra Dharmadhikari
Publisher Srishti Publishers
Year published 2014
ISBN 13 9789382665212
Goodreads link Link
Flipkart link Flipkart
Amazon link Amazon