The reason why I chose this book was because it promised to be a racy thriller, and I just dig this genre. Somnath Batabyal has been a crime reporter and hence one could expect a tightly woven story in the area of his expertise — journalism. This is how the story unfolds:
Abhishek Dutta is a newbie journalist who joins Express as a reporter. His immediate boss, Amir Akhtar, puts him on a mundane job. By some sheer beginner’s luck, Abhishek uncovers a scoop. He becomes the blue-eyed boy of the publication. He comes in touch with the police department of Delhi. Here he meets a particular DCP, Uday Kumar, who shares a shady past with Amir Akhtar that Abhishek uncovers much later. Brash, rude and arrogant, Uday symbolizes the typical police personnel. There is an honest police officer in Mayank Sharma who develops and easy camaraderie with Abhishek. The jealousies, insecurities, murkiness, and close knit nature of both a publication and the police are brought out nicely through the characters along with their struggles and frustrations. The characters are nicely etched and believable. The nexus between the media and police is well brought out. How both of them mutually benefit each other, how stories are planted and what actually unfolds behind the scenes in a media organization as well as in police headquarters.
The story builds up at a good pace. Abhishek with his new-found fame gets a more lucrative offer and moves on to a glamorous TV news network. The flashy atmosphere of a TV station as compared to a print setup is nicely brought out. Many of us can figure out who the anchors are modeled after. Amidst all this is the relentless pursuit of one of the most wanted criminals in Indian history, Babloo Shankar, who has been in exile for 15 years and is rumored to come back for a very big mission. An ace kidnapper and a dreaded criminal, Babloo’s last encounter with the police left many unanswered questions. Somehow the ace pressman, the DCP and Babloo have a deadly secret in common. Babloo’s accomplice especially his girlfriend adds to the intrigue.
The book reads well, keeps the reader on tenterhooks and unfolds brilliantly nicely building the suspense as events unfold in Abhishek’s career. But the climax is a downer. Had it been a bit different and a little less filmy, this book would have been outstanding. It is still a very good read.
The high points of the book are definitely the knowledge of the inner workings of criminal reporting that the author utilizes in the book. The language is very Indian along with the locations of Delhi. The characters build nicely and the story does not stall and keeps you engrossed. It is also nice that he brings out the different styles of journalism and what actually lies behind the stories we read and see. Definitely recommended for reading if you enjoy this genre of storytelling.