The world is always on the lookout for new wars:
Review of BRUTAL by Uday Sathpathy
Thrillers unwittingly talk about intrigues that the common man and reader is unaware of and has no way of accessing data that leads to the brutal conclusions that is so often expressed on the pages. So how do writers write about such facts? Facts that are not common knowledge because there are people and governments who strive to keep them under cover. I guess these writers are either those who have been connected to such activities or have access through contacts and research… or simply have a great imagination. No, I don’t mean a writer has to be a serial killer to then sit down and write a book on serial killers. But a lot of those writing thrillers have been plodding researchers, investigative journalists, ex-servicemen, spies, bureaucrats who have handled such operations… or, as I said earlier, they have an intuitive imagination that beats being anything else.
Uday Satpathy, the writer of Brutal, despite a past that meanders through IT and management, could be in any of the categories that I have mentioned… and it is not as important as the fact that his book dives into an area that most of the crime thrillers I have read in the past few months, have not. I mean, not in the same raw and brutal way that this author managed to conclude that the world is always on the lookout for new wars.
This book horrifically begins with ‘things lurking in the black shadows, slithering through the branches of trees… like a cloud of soot that has life’ and then tramples its way through murders, brutal killings, threats, and kidnappings towards a declaration and admittance that ‘in today’s world, nations don’t fight each other in public. They go for proxy wars and covert operations. The demand for mercenaries and contractors who can carry out these block ops is rising…’ Like any other thriller, even this book starts like a jigsaw with all the blood-soaked pieces waiting to be put in their right place… and to do this, the author thought of not one but two investigative journalists as the protagonists who go around courageously uncovering bits that they either reach or are led to.
As a reader I loved to stalk the two journalists, Prakash and Seema, as they walked into traps, escaped, got hurt, or stumbled on to some vital clue. What I mean is that as a reader I was thinking with the author and was quite involved with what was happening and the way it was happening. Yes, I too cringed with discomfort and got restless when the book went through involuntary convulsions as character after character was shown to have suffered at the hands of a demonic molecule called NB-67 as it meant that ‘now some people have created drugs which can induce extremely violent behaviour in a very spontaneous manner.’ A drug that makes ‘you fear. It makes you feel threatened. To a point that you can no longer escape. So you react. You react with the primeval instincts of the human species. You attack your enemy and finish him off. NB-67 wakes up the inner demons in you, buried in the recesses of your mind.’ I could understand that the author wasn’t talking of just any drug and how it affects the society in general… I knew he was talking of a drug as a weapon of mass destruction. The book makes it clear that what is ‘common between these incidents is that the killer in each case was on anti-depressant drugs prescribed by psychiatrists. Some of these drugs have a history of inducing violent behaviour. A few have also been linked to homicides and suicides.’ When such a drug is in the hands of a wrong set of people, you can only imagine what the consequences will be. The truth is that the sort of operational details and characters that we come across in the book need careful handling and the author has done well to choose the right pace and the right sort of words and expressions to create not just a read-worthy text but a text that may not allow you to keep the book aside until you’ve finished it.
So we seamlessly glide from seemingly unconnected killings and stray reports of violence to understanding the way large businesses and governments connect crime that transcends international borders through private military forces. I wasn’t really surprised to read one of the perpetrators voice his frustrations, concern, and fear of the start of ‘a backlash against private military forces worldwide and they were being seen as mercenaries not bound by any law. That was not good for business. The world needed new wars and he knew it. The action was in Asia. Islamic extremism was claiming new territories. They would need our support.’ This is a book that clearly denounces such forces as they are not in the business of justice but always working for their own greed-ridden hidden agenda.
How deeply are the political powers and the bureaucratic systems connected to these killer gangs is evident when Khushwaha, the patriarch of the family that runs the biggest security agencies in the country muses about the need for ‘his sons to understand that their family’s real business was power and influence. They had to protect it and earn more of it.’ As I read through the stories and the stories behind the stories, I realised that perception is what the senior Khushwaha is aiming for. He understands the perceptive differences between killing assignments and jihad, and says: ‘We are contractors. We don’t take sides. Terrorists take sides. With this mission we would clearly look like terrorists fighting Jihad.’
If a book makes a reader sit up and wonder at all the things that could be happening and even make him read a newspaper carefully so he does not miss some vital clue to any subtle changes taking place in the world outside his home, it has successfully captured his imagination. If a books makes the reader interpret ‘I am become death, the destroyer of worlds!’ in more ways than are obvious, it has successfully made him appreciate the genetic structure of a thriller. This book does all this.
Note: This is the ‘uncorrected bound proof copy from Westland Ltd that I have reviewed and it does not have any information on the ISBN and the price. The book is to be released sometime in September 2015.
Author: Uday Satpathy
Publisher: Bloody Good Book & Westland Ltd
19 August 2015