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Archive for the ‘Thriller’ Category


Fire in The Unnameable Country
Ghalib Islam | Fourth Estate | Rs 499

Screen Shot 2015-02-22 at 12.55.09 PMThis debut is as exciting as it is befuddling. Ghalib Islam, born in Bangladesh and living in Canada since the age of seven has penned a novel that wraps around an unnamed country that to an Indian reader would appear to point to Bangladesh. But the country is not named. What is named is a colonial past, a terrorist infested present, a mind-reading government department, a man who speaks many languages, a flying carpet and a long birth. It’s ambitious, clever and dressed in magic realism. A reader’s puzzle.

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Field Guide To Happiness
Linda Leaming | Hay House | Rs 299

Screen Shot 2015-02-22 at 12.54.45 PMLinda Leaming, originally from Nashville, Tennessee, US made her home in Bhutan sometime in the mid-90s. In between she taught English and wrote articles for women’s magazine, traveller guides and newspapers. “I have now lived in Bhutan all my adult life. My happiness comes because living in this ancient culture forces me to think differently – about time, work, money, nature, family, other people, life, death, tea, kindness, generosity, washing machines, waking up, and myself,” writes Leaming as she unveils her journey to self-discovery. The story comes packaged as a self-help manual.

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Business Unusual
Sharmila Kantha | Rupa | Rs 295

Screen Shot 2015-02-22 at 12.54.58 PMIt’s a refreshing to read writers using India’s historical capital, Delhi as the backdrop for a thriller or detective genre books. In ‘Business Unusual’ former corporate functionary, Sharmila Kantha, situates a murder in an upper class businessman’s household that includes a calculating ‘Mataji’, warring sons, servants and hangers on and an unemotionally efficient detective, Ramji. There are also, of course, dead bodies that link the mystery together and a sultry seductress, Lata that enters Ramji’s life at the most confusing time. A fun detective adventure aimed at young adult reader.

(The above reviews appeared in the Sunday edition of Mail Today, New Delhi, dated 22 February 2015)

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If Truth Be Told: A Monk Memoir
Om Swami | Harper Element | Rs 499

Screen Shot 2015-02-22 at 12.56.54 PMAmit Sharma grew up in Patiala and flew to Australia to study and eventually work in the IT software industry. Then one day, he decided to renounce his family, wealth (including a Porsche) and friends in Sydney to embark on a spiritual journey because he says, he “wanted to devote his life to the search of Truth”. He returned to India, sought out Kashi, gurus, tantric yoga and wisdom. He says he attained “enlightenment” in a forest and that ‘tantra’ is not about tantric sex but realizing the self. Today, he runs an ashram in Uttaranchal and seeks followers.

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Item Girl
Richa Lakhera | Rupa| Rs 195

Screen Shot 2015-02-22 at 12.56.39 PMThe story hidden between the pages of this thriller – set in the underbelly of Bollywood studios – zeros on rape, blackmail and ‘ma-behen’ invectives to paint what the blurb at the back of the book announces as “the dark side of showbiz”. It’s a tedious read – the ramble, the hectoring, the sloth of thought and the language of tired clichés (the plants were rotting alive; feet sounding brittle and hard on scratchy shabby grass; her first film turned out to be a stellar hit). Rupa needs to tighten its editing skills and Lakhera her story telling abilities.

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For Tibet, With Love
Isabel Losada | Bloomsbury | Rs 299

Screen Shot 2015-02-22 at 12.56.25 PMIsabel Losada, a journalist from Battersea, England, travels to China, India and London to decipher how Tibet can win autonomy from Chinese rule. Along the way, she learns that world can’t be changed by staging world concerts or by calling the Chinese evil. Aptly subtitled as a “beginners guide for changing the world”, Losada in this book finally reaches out to Dalai Lama asking him what she and others who felt like her could do? He tells her to continue writing, learn from Gandhi’s ‘constructive determination’ and accept the ‘humanism’ of the Tibetan culture. Wise.

(The above reviews appeared in the Sunday edition of Mail Today, New Delhi, dated 15 February 2015)

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Unthink
Chris Paley | Coronet | Rs 350

Screen Shot 2015-02-08 at 3.52.20 PM“Consciousness isn’t designed for understanding ourselves, its for understanding other people,” says behavioural scientist, Christ Paley, in this intriguing little book. This, he explains, is because we live complicated social lives in which we a) don’t do things for the reasons we expect; b) what we imagine we do consciously, is in fact, done by unconscious; c) we understand ourselves through others and lastly, d) we are always in conflict with what we want to do. In short, don’t trust your trickster mind. Trust your consciousness instead. You’ll be happier and more successful. Wise.

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Karm
Aditya & Arnav Mukherjee | Rupa | Rs 195

Screen Shot 2015-02-08 at 3.52.54 PMThis thriller by Mukherjee brothers is fit for a ‘Don’ sequel starring a young handsome Bollywood hunk, a gutsy female TV news star and her secret admirer, a reporter. Instead of the big bad world, it situates all action in Amchi Mumbai like the first original Amitabh Bachchan ‘Don’ did. It imagines the city in 2019 where suburban trains have ACs, slum remain slums, high-rises pierce the city skies and the rich travel in UFO-like airships. Best part of the story is that it packs an uncomfortable truth – organised crime always wins. A chilling read.

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Urnabhih
Sumedha V Ojha | Roli | Rs 350

Screen Shot 2015-02-08 at 3.52.41 PMWe live in an age of confusion. This may be one reason why historical fiction is gaining large number of readers. People are tired of facts and truths. They want to re-imagine their ‘realities’ and to find comfort in fantasy. Sumedha V Ojha gives us one such tale. Set in ancient Maurya empire, the novel ‘Urnabhih’ (lit., “cobweb”) traces the story of a dancing girl who gets sucked into a spy ring. Her ‘hero’ and companion in various adventures, Pushyamitra, is a hired assassin and leader of ‘Nagrik Suraksha Parishad’. Scary.

(The above reviews appeared in the Sunday edition of Mail Today, New Delhi, dated 8 February 2015)

 

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The Outsiders
Gerald Seymour | Hodder | Rs 350

Reporter-turned thriller writer, Seymour does not keep political autobiographies at home. “They seem to me to be self-justifying, weak on facts and often an ego trip trying to recall the days when the black car was at the front gate,” he says. What does he read? He says no one can beat Charles Dickens’ opening lines in A Tale of Two Cities, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” In this book a M15 agent chases a Russian gangster across continents while trying to crack a multi-billion dollar world of international organised crime. There is action, suspense and two innocent lovers caught in the middle of a bust. A Seymour, vintage.

(The above review appeared in the Saturday edition of the Mail Today, New Delhi, 8 September 2012)

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The Kiss of Death
Jeffery Deaver | Hodder & Stoughton | Rs 695

In this ticking-clock thriller, Deaver looks at what it means to be a female celebrity singer being pursued by a stalker who believes that every song the singer has sung has been specially written for him. The price of fame in the modern world of invasive TV coverage and multimedia is much more than in the years Beatles came to India. In 1960s they could have stayed at Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s Rishikesh ashram, today that is unimaginable. The price of fame in Deaver’s book comes with dead bodies, social media, the internet and a smart ass detective, Kathryn Dance. Deaver is an author of 29 novels, his latest is a James Bond novel, Carte Blanche published in May 2011.

(The above review appeared in the Saturday edition of the Mail Today, New Delhi, dated 18 August 2012)

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United Breaks Guitars
Dave Carrol | Hay House | Rs 299

It’s every travelling musician’s worst nightmare. How to make sure airline staff does not damage his/her expensive music instrument. In March 2008, Dave Carrol faced just that, while travelling from Canada to US on a music tour. The United Airlines ground staff mishandled his guitar case causing irreparable damage to his guitar. Of course, they refused to compensate. So Carrol did what no one had done before, he used the social media to bring the corporation to its knees. He did this by posting a video ‘United Breaks Guitars’ on youtube and proved, that at least in America, customer is always king.

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The Governor’s Wife
Mark Gimenez | Sphere | Rs 350

Gimenz opens his tale with a quote from Edna Faber’s book Giant that hits close to home. “We really stole Texas, didn’t we? I mean. Away from Mexico” she wrote. Gimez follows in the footsteps of the quote and creates a chilling politico-legal thriller in which a wife of Texas governor takes on her husband and the political establishment in an attempt to save a life of a young Mexican criminal caught in a no man’s land between Rio Grande and the US. Gimenez’s ability to replicate the vernacular idiom and slang has many readers hooked. Question now is will Gimenez upstage John Grisham? He just may.

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Wings of Silence
Shriram Iyer | Westland | Rs 199

What strikes one about this debut novel, is not the story or its terrible prose, but the depiction of a parent – in particular an authoritarian father figure who treats his grown up children as minions. Sadly, the author’s focus is on telling a story about two aspiring sportsmen. One wants to make it to Olympics, the other to the Wimbledon. What to say? Indians generally speaking, like to dream big, even if they don’t have it in them to make it to the top. Much like the author of this book who aspires to be a writer without even attempting to deliver a grammatically correct sentence.

(The above reviews appeared in the Sunday edition of the Mail Today, dated 12 August 2012)

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Pantheon
Sam Bourne | Harper | Rs 325

It may make you shudder or may not. It is no secret for e.g., that India’s caste and jati system is geared towards perpetuating ‘pure races’. In 1940s Europe and America, the idea found its support not only among Nazis who spoke of the Aryan race but also among the progressive intellectual elite that included George Bernard Shaw, HG Wells, John Maynard Keynes and Virginia Woolf. As Shaw wrote, “the only fundamental and possible socialism is the socialisation of the selective breeding of man.” Bourne takes this fact and spins a propelling thriller that questions the moral decrepitude of one of the “greatest secrets of Anglo-American elite.”

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