A.X. Ahmad weaves this tale of intrigue, betrayal and heartbreak. Thrillers are the genre I dig the most whether it is drama, crime or medical thriller. And of late, I have been reading some good Indian authors too. This is the first book I’ve read of A.X.Ahmad, and I quite enjoyed it.
The story traces the life of Ranjit Singh, a former Captain in the Indian army, who fell from grace, spent jail time and then illegally moved to the land of opportunities, USA. Two parallel tracks in the story simultaneously unfold keeping the reader engrossed and asking for more. I enjoyed reading the inside story about the perpetual state of war between India and Pakistan and how the army is also responsible for stoking it and keeping it alive. Sometimes the collateral damage in these wars are honest officers. Brutalized by the system, Ranjit heads to the US to make a life for himself and his family. He does hard labor and works as a landscaper as we get a peek into the lives of an affluent African-American community.
As events unfold, he gets involved with the Black Senator’s wife who has some dark secrets of her own. Embroiled in this mess and threatened by those in power with the safety of his own family, he is at the risk of getting deported to India where his life is at threat. Caught in this explosive situation, he unravels the truth and finds a way out of the trouble albeit uncovering some very unpleasant facts and losing some near and dear ones. I found the end very realistic and convincing. The portrayal of a Sikh family and characterizations of Ranjit; his wife, Preetam; and his sprightly daughter, Shanti along with that of Anna Neals, the Senator’s wife are excellent. The plot is well crafted. The loose ends tie neatly and the two stories moving together amalgamate well later.
The story moves at a good pace, keeping the reader engrossed and asking for more. The high points of the story are definitely the plot and the characterizations. The story explores parts of American life not normally explored in Indian books. The drama is pretty good. I was a bit disappointed in how Anna’s character reaches her end. I felt it was a bit convenient affording Ranjit a chance to sort out his life and reconcile with his family. If you enjoy a good book, this book will certainly appeal to you.
The language is good with nice Indian touches. And the author has researched the plot well investing time in explaining the different aspects right from Army operations to diplomacy, inter-racial tensions and power games. Overall, a truly enjoyable read and time well spent!