Publisher: Pan Macmillan India
Price: INR 250
Ok, I am going to say, we’ve all read too many Indian-authored books to take any more seriously. I cringe every time I see an Indian-authored book in the book store. But ‘The Shadow Throne’ by Aroon Raman proved me wrong, much to my delight. A fast paced spy thriller, it is based in India, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Aroon Raman’s book is set amidst ever-weakening Indo-Pakistan ties. It begins with the murder of a large-headed man in the Qutub Minar, who is later revealed to be a Kushan. The officer on scene, Inspector Syed Hassan Ali calls in ace freelancer journalist Chandrasekhar to help. But RAW pulls the file from Hassan’s hand, hence proving that this murder is much murkier than it seems. What follows is a needle-in-a-haystack chase all across Afghanistan to stop the bad guys. Amidst all this is Meenakshi Pirzada, a history professor who helps the duo solve important clues.
And amidst all this is India’s RAW and Pakistan’s ISI going back-and-forth. Throughout the book, Hassan’s loyalties are questioned, which adds much to the suspense. It would be unwise to discuss the plot much longer, but when you read the book some twists totally take you by surprise.
The book’s characters are mapped out well, each bringing in a good layer of depth. Each plays their part well, not over-stepping any boundaries. The book is very well-researched and a good mix of fact and fiction. The plot is fast paced and well-written. Of course, the book has its own clichés and obvious twists that make you go, “I totally saw that coming!” But that, I believe is unavoidable.
Throughout the book, the Dan Brown inspiration is highly evident. This is quite a let-downer. Also, it may seem like there is simply too much going on! There are too many plots coinciding at one point, making the book too ambitious. The backdrop of the RAW-ISI relationship is well-motivated but the story of two men fighting the odds against everything seems a little too ludicrous to be true. My greatest woe with the book was the climax that came to suddenly and abruptly. You don’t really realize the book is over.
But notwithstanding, The Shadow Throne is a fast-paced spy action thriller that is quite the page-
turner! It makes for a good one-time read.
Overall Rating: 7.5/10
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