Friday, 29 August 2014

Private India: Ashwin Sanghi & James Patterson

Date of Reading: 27/08/2014
Authors: Ashwin Sanghi & James Patterson
Publisher: Arrow Books
Place: London
Year: 2014
From: BlogAdda in exchange of an honest review

        It's been a while since I had the taste of this unique adrenaline rush (attributed solely to mystery stories), so when BlogAdda offered a Sanghi & Patterson book there was no need to think twice. Ashwin Sanghi, the author of best selling books 'The Rozabal Line', 'Chanakya's Chant' and 'Krishna Key' needs no introduction, but sadly (thanks to the negative remarks of my friends who never got it to finish these) they never crossed my paths.
         Patterson, on the other hand, is a different story. At least I know the romance section ('Sundays at Tiffany's' for sure); just don't forget to google him, you will be amazed at the list. Definitely a professional.
Ashwin Sanghi
         As for this particular book . . . The cover page, with its charming blue tinge, is amazing. And if you have any doubts on your reading speed, this is a confidence booster. Thanks to the reader friendly fonts, we will never know how we covered the 447 pages in one or two sittings.
         Unfortunately the list of niceties ends there. A page turner I agree, but the habituated pleasure is derived from the predictable story line (oh, it's not easy to identify our culprit) which lacks the heart racing events that makes us rush back from the unavoidable breaks. A group of characters with psychologically traumatic lives is not something I would like to identify with and the part with Indian Mujahideen fails to stick with the current, though it gives some lime light to Jack Morgan. In this Nisha's role was a welcome relief, the pages I enjoyed with anxiety and pride.
To the story now:
Mumbai witnesses a sequence of murders where seemingly unconnected people are strangled to death and strange objects are tied to their corpses in ritualistic fashion. Santosh Wagh, the head of Private India, the Indian branch of world's finest detective agency takes charge of the case, but murders continue. The only connecting thing associated with them is victims are all women and Santosh needs to figure out the story the killer is painting.
[To those who haven't bothered to read the warning at the beginning of the blog, I must give a big SPOILER ALERT. If you are planning to read the book, better stop right here]
         Santosh still suffers from the traumatic events of the accident which killed his wife and son and left him with a limp. His police career ended there and Morgan recruited him to Private India. His assistant Nisha, who was an orphan and Dr. Mubeen, and Hari, the tech geek makes the team.
        The victims are a Thaiwan doctor, a journalist, a famous singer, a school principal, a politician, a judge, a director and a yoga instructor. Santosh identifies a connection between the symbols and the nine avatars of Durga. And an enquiry into victims double lives lead to a common thread, Aditi Chopra who is now known as Aakash after her gender reassignment. Murders are her reply to the past tormentors.
The last victim turns out to be Nisha who once arrested Aditi from the brothel; an action packed sequence follows ending in the timely arrival of Santosh and Jach for rescue. In between is the bomb threat of the Indian Mujahideen which is aimed at Private with the help of the local mafia king, Munna. In here Jack plays the savior and the bomb is aborted; Santosh quits from Private, but Jack advises him against that and curtain falls with the readers predicting Santosh back in the field.

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program by BlogAdda for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

Friday, 22 August 2014

The Colour of Dawn - Janaki Murali

Date of Reading: 19/08/2014
Author: Janaki Murali
Publisher: Harper Collins India
Place: New Delhi
Year: 2002
From: Goodreads Giveaway

        There is something in the title that takes you to the classical past and that had me hooked here. In spite of the less developed plot, the story clearly echoes the ghostly paradise of 'Wuthering Heights'. And Kunjan, the modern day Heathcliff, is far more clear headed in his possessive love; "I will destroy everything that is yours, Sita . . . You will rue the day you said no to me." A threat that even engulfs the next generation.
         Sita, like any other girl of our generation, faces the same fate: the aftereffects of an unreciprocated love which sends many through acid attacks or much worse, a life sentenced to spend in fear. The message is clear; 'If you can't be mine, then you should not be anyone else's'.
         The story goes through two narrative patterns, one unfolds Sita's past from her birth onward, while the other is set in the present where she lives with her doctor husband and waits for her daughter to return from America.
        Her mother Ammini hails from a Brahmin family in Kerala where she undergoes the barbaric untouchability meted out to a new mother and waits for her husband to come from Bombay. Appa has lost his job meantime and he puts off his journey to take back his wife and new born daughter. This reluctance is interpreted at Ammini's home as a result of an affair or his dissatisfaction at the birth of a girl child. 
        Eventually her brother dump Ammini at her husband's doorstep and the chivalrous Appa could never come to confess the real reason. There ensues a broken marriage which ends up in Ammini's death. He refuses to hand over Sita to her maternal family and brings her up with the help of his sister, Saras Athai. She shifts her home to Bombay with her husband and two sons, Kunjan and Ambi.
        When Sita is about to join for a major in history, Appa dies and later only Kunjan succeeds in filling that void. Saras Athai watches fearfully the growing affection of his son to Sita, who is clearly oblivious to the fact. When she starts preparing for Sita's marriage, Kunjan intervenes. Taking Sita's permission for granted, he attepts an elopement.  On recovering from the initial panic attack she rejects his proposal and goes for her much awaited tour covering historical cities. She meets her life partner Sami in Delhi.
        Their routine life is broken when her daughter Sanjna announces her marriage with a Pakistani. Kunjan's son Rajan too was married to an American girl, Janet who was Sanjna's friend. When Janet dies in an accident Kunjan takes that anger on Sanjna whom he considers responsible for bringing Janet into their lives. 
Janaki Murali
        His hatred for Sita burns his heart and on his order an acid thrower tries to attack Sanjna and her husband. They are saved with minor injuries and hastily return to US. Kunjan is left alone by his mother and brother, and he fails to get the comfort he sought by hurting Sita. Sita and Sami get along with their lives, supporting each other to cope with the new situation.

Something to ponder:

"Appa was an ordinary man who lost his wife because he was too foolish to say he was sorry. Too self-absorbed to find out what was going on in his wife's life. Too conservative to tell his wife that he loved her." - 44
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