Monday, 11 February 2013

JFK by Jhangir Kerawala

Title : JFK
Author : Jhangir Kerawala
Genre : Mystery / Fiction
Publisher : Grey Oak / Westland Books
Pages : 225
My Rating : 8/10
Reviewed For :
MySmartPrice / IQRC 2013


JFK ... A dying man’s last word ... A plea, an accusation or a clue? That’s what the police couldn’t figure out. What they did know was that they had serial murders in broad daylight, and just one suspect with little motive ... Jatin F. Karunamoi, the dead man’s best friend. Jatin is no hero; he’s an unemployed 50-year-old, desperate to find a job. But his only hope for a life of dignity lies in him finding the real killer. As he jumps headlong into the investigation he has little idea what he’s getting into ... a hunt for the faceless murderer. Each step Jatin takes to unravel the mystery brings him closer to insanity as he encounters unimaginable situations, devious characters, intrigue and ... death. In this fast-paced thriller set in Kolkata, debut ant novelist Jhangir Kerawala brings the reader face-to-face with the ugly underbelly that looms large beneath the bright lights of urban India.

My Review :

When I first saw the title JFK, I like many others thought this book was about the late U.S. President & his assassination. But then on reading the blurb, I realised that it had nothing to do with any of it. In fact this was a very much desi read, set in the City of Kolkata and partly in Uttar Pradesh, promising to take the reader on a roller coaster of a ride with its fast paced thrill. A unique title, an intriguing blurb but a dull cover page set against the backdrop of Kolkata seemed a rather interesting combination.
In one word, JFK can be described as your good old “whodunit”!! It starts with the murder of an old man – Ram Prasad Yadav on a dark night. Next we know, our protagonist i.e. Jatin’s best mate – Manish is also killed the same night by the same gun. While the author keeps Ram Prasad’s identity & story under the wraps till we reach the middle of the read, Manish is described as a “decent man with no enemies”!! So who would want to kill a man like Manish?? This is what Jatin has to discover & this is his story as he juggles between trying to find out his best friend’s murderer & resolving his own personal issues. Manish in his last dying moments, gives a call to Jatin & utters just 3 alphabets – “JFK” which are the only clue that Jatin has. As Jatin decodes the clue & stumbles upon the many secrets of his otherwise best friend Manish, he realises that Manish was not what he seemed to be. Armed with this knowledge, Jatin sets out on a hunt which not only takes him to the real killer but also changes his entire perspective of life.
On first impressions, this story might seem like any other thriller but this one stands out in a number of ways. Firstly, the protagonist – Jatin is not your average young, dynamic hero. He is a  50-year old unemployed man who is dealing with what we can all relate to as mid-life crisis. Unemployment, financial crisis, family issues - amongst all these troubles, his only haven is his mate – Manish but when Manish is murdered, Jatin is thrown headlong into a maze of intricate lies & ghosts of pasts.
Secondly, the author has introduced this unique spin through which emerges the second protagonist – Ram Prasad Yadav. The readers get to know about his story & struggle only when they reach the middle of the plot but once it is out, it surpasses even Jatin’s struggle. The author has portrayed Ram Prasad Yadav in all shades from white to grey but the sheer grit & determination of this character & his lone crusade stands out amongst the rest. Thirdly, the author has outlined a plot that is very relatable, grounded & real. He has also addressed the various evils that still exist in our society despite its modernity & has tried to create an awareness. And lastly but perhaps the best part of this story was the fact that the author has highlighted a very important and basic human trait. All of us have hidden secrets, every person is not exactly the same as he portrays himself in front of the society, family or friends. Through almost every character, the author has played up this point.
Along with Jatin & Ram Prasad Yadav, the author has also included a motley of characters & various sub plots which add to the mystery of the plot. The author’s style of writing is reader –friendly, in other words, it is easy to read. However, there were a few sub-plots which were not concluded properly in the end and that left me unsatisfied. Also, the story seemed to drag in the last few pages, it could have been crispier. This is not a classic nor a glossy read but if you are looking for something that will keep you hooked till the end then JFK is the one for you. Kudos to the author for his debut effort.

(The review copy has been provided by MySmartPrice. This review is entirely my own personal & honest opinion. I do not receive any kind of payment or monetary gains for my review.)

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Wednesday, 6 February 2013

R.I.P by Mukul Deva

Title : R.I.P
Author : Mukul Deva

Genre : Thriller / Fiction
Publisher : Westland Books

Pages : 298
My Rating : 8.5/10

Reviewed For : Blogadda


R.I.P. The Resurgent Indian Patriots. Self- appointed guardians of a nation seething with anger at the endless scams and scandals rocking its very foundation. Vigilantes who vow to stop corrupt politicians and colluding civil servants. Even if it means killing them.
Colonel Krishna Athawale and his team of Special Forces officers rally to protect the country from the enemy within. They call themselves the K-Team. And no one is safe from their deadly intent. Hell-bent on stopping them is Raghav Bhagat, rogue para commando, gun for hire and Krishna’s bĂȘte noir. Caught in the crossfire is Vinod Bedi, Special Director CBI. Reena Bhagat, a glamorous news anchor, embittered by her husband’s betrayal. And two young boys, Sachin and Azaan, torn apart by the loss of a parent. It doesn’t get bigger.

My Review :

They say that an enemy within the country is far more dangerous than the one sitting outside it. And this is what exactly India is facing today. People meant to take the country on the path of development are manipulating the common man’s wealth & the country resources instead. This novel brings out the sentiments of one such Indian (the author) who like most of us is angered by the turn of events taking place in our country & the mute spectators doing nothing to change it.
When I first read the blurb for RIP, the first thought that came to my mind was “League of Shadows”. To non-lovers of Batman series, League of Shadows is a collective of vigilantes who lead the path to true justice by taking on the criminals themselves. The K-Team here from RIP is something on the same lines!!
Amongst the various Indian thrillers being penned down, this book stands out from the rest, starting from the title to its cover to its plot. The title RIP  is an acronym for The Resurgent Indian Patriots who are a group of vigilantes who won’t think twice before assassinating a corrupt politician. On the cover page, what stands out the most are various elements of warfare - a soldier carrying a gun, a syringe, a bullet & an explosion!! Coming to the plot, this one is a fast paced action-packed punch which kick-starts with 3 high profile murders (here we go…….) & a promise for more assassinations if the political scum is not cleared!!
These assassinations are carried out by the K-Team which is a team of 6 Special Forces ex-officers lead by Colonel Krishna Athawale. In case you are wondering if the “K” factor of the team is inspired by Ekta Kapoor, the answer is no. The K-Team is named so because the names of all of its 6 members start with K (too much of a coincidence, I say!!). The origin of K-team lies in the fact that India as country has become the leading name in the arena of Corruption. Exploited endlessly by the politicians to the point that every day a fresh new scam is discovered, the K-team decide to take matter in their own hands to purge the system. Naturally, there are roadblocks which the K-team encounters. One of them is in the form of an official enquiry carried out by CBI Assistant director Vinod Bedi. And another is in the form of one of the most corrupt politician’s marionette, an ex-army man gone rogue – Raghav. So here is a plot that is at its crispiest & has some shades of Bollywood style masala.
Honestly speaking, this was my first Mukul Deva novel & I wasn’t expecting much but this one does manage rock your world. The most important feature of a thriller is its capacity to keep the reader on the edge & Mukul Deva gives you just that!! Also, the author’s army background is starkly evident in this read as the author dextrously combines his knowledge & creativity with military precision (literally!!). The book has a motley of characters via whom the author brings to fore the most basic of human traits which drive the human mind & the complexities that tag with each of these emotions. However, the most salient feature of this read is that it will strike a chord with every Indian reading this book. Mukul Deva has written in a way that arouses the otherwise dormant patriotism in each one of us & bring out the rebellion. Although the author has put a disclaimer that the book is entirely a fictional work, the readers will find the characters & the various scams described in the book familiar. I thought this was one book that seamlessly kept oscillating between fiction & reality.
This is a simple read with a fast paced plot. However, the pace does slacken a bit at a few places.  The plot could have been more tighter & relatable had not the author adopted the Bollywood style conclusion. This does tend to make the plot a teeny bit fantastical instead of keeping it grounded. All in all, a read that offers radical ideas.

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