Well, the title I have chosen for this review tells me a lot about what is there in this thriller. There are people putting up an act, there are those to whom these words are like a catalyst, and yet again there are times when the same words become a grim pointer to some ground reality that needs proactive action. Strangely, all the interpretations that I have mentioned go well with the way things shape up in this book… and I must admit that I was equally tempted to use ‘the way of the assassin’ as the title.
The story line isn’t complicated… until the time the author decides to bring in twists that kept me awake for a large part of the night to go on reading this one. There is one Irshad Dilawar who is an underworld don and hiding in Pakistan. Obviously, the ISI is woven in the story matrix as are other assassins and the RAW and IB from India. A covert deep penetrating mission is planned and Shatrujeet Nath, the writer, decides to call it Project Abhimanyu. Now it becomes easy for a discerning reader to conclude that the writer must surely have planned a book where the protagonists enter a war zone easily but emerging from it is what is going to be difficult. If you are reading this book and reach this conclusion, I’d say, you’re absolutely right… you see, thrillers cannot be thrillers unless there are unsurpassable obstacles scattered all around you.
The story has a defined time-line that begins on May 07 and ends on August 13. So a reader doesn’t go groping into timelines and the complexities of the past to keep his sanity while reading a thriller. The book is simply as clinical as an assassin.
The book is also as clinical as a spy, I must add. Colonel Madan has some chilling words for spies as he pitches the concept of Unit Kilo to Imtiaz and specifies that anyone willing to join the unit is ‘about to embrace a life that is not that of a soldier or a commando. It is the way of the assassin.’ We then get a bird’s eye view of the sort of life these members of the extremely secret force must understand:
“Unit Kilo is and will always be a lonely and thankless place. We will never march down Rajpath on Republic Day and be seen on TV, There will be no public honour for whatever you may achieve, no Param Veer Chakras or Ashok Chakras or Kirti Chakras, no matter how great your bravery was. No one will know what you did for the country, and you will tell no one. The only reward you will get for a job well done is the opportunity to do more.”
On the other side of the world of intrigue are the real assassins, the mercenaries, and this set of people too have the beliefs of Zawawi who ‘strongly believed that a bunch of average soldiers who knew each other were infinitely superior to a crack team of fighters who had been thrown together for the first time.’ He knows that there must be a joy in killing… artless or otherwise… and that he works ‘for the joy that comes with the job. These scalps… they are a part of that joy.’ Assassins are not necessarily involved with any covert counter-espionage operations. Their role meanders through greed and politics and these are what flow invisibly but like a river in spate that gobbles up lives without their even knowing or understanding what was happening. Even true spies are left wondering… Shamsheer and Imtiaz are the two Unit Kilo agents from India who wonder what Rafiq, the third in their party in this particular mission, was up to…
‘So question number one: why was Rafiq sent to spy on us? Two: why is the colonel enacting such a big charade? Three: what is happening here that we both know nothing about?’
This book isn’t all about blood and gore as there is more than just this that will make a true thriller. Yes, people get killed in its pages, but the real heart-beat accelerators are the people sitting in high offices plotting moves as if they were playing nothing but a game of chess. And then again, it isn’t just this sort of callous plotting that converts an ordinary thriller into a pulsating one… it is the realisation of truth in small bits and pieces that people at the operational level snatch by adding up what has happened, that sends the pulse zipping and zooming deep into dizzying heights.
The book takes us all deep into the life of a spy, the way of the assassin, the way political manoeuvring interacts with professional life, and the truth behind a façade of truth! There is martial philosophising in the pages just as there is murderous intent. There are secrets tumbling out to solve issues just as there are secrets that are arranged back meticulously to solve issues… and this is where the intrigue begins to gnaw until you decide to keep awake for yet more time to read on. The book has simple words that convert everything into a chilling experience. The reader is propelled into a position where he starts loving the gun-shots and yet wants them to become a messiah!
“We shook hands with someone who has taken innocent Indian lives,” the major shook his head obstinately.
The colonel considered Imtiaz for a moment. “Yes, but in the process we are now in a position to save countless Indian lives…”
The book is a fascinating example of a thriller well written… but I have one question to ask readers, analysts, and writers. Should thrillers have characters explaining to you why some action was initiated? Shouldn’t the reader be allowed that one additional thrill of concluding the real secret on his own? Yes, there will surely be a lot of interpretations, but then that is what a thrilling moment is all about. I believe that a thriller should have the ability to transform itself into an enigma that will be discussed for ages and to find that as soon as a consensus is about to be reached, another interpretation crops up to bring the enigma back to life! Not that this is something that will lessen the joy of reading a thriller where the reader is painstakingly explained all the nuances of decision-making that went on in the pages…
Title: The Karachi Deception
Author: Shatrujeet Nath
Publisher: Grey Oak in association with Westland Ltd
Price: Rs 225/- (in 2013)
The book was received as part of Reviewers Programme on The Tales Pensieve.
22 July 2013
The review was published in BLUZOG too:
Felt nice to get a response from the author…