The Shadow Throne by Aroon Raman

Paperback – 332 pages
Published – August 16th 2012 by Pan Macmillan India

Goodreads Summary: India faces nuclear armageddon.

A mysterious murder at the Qutub Minar triggers a call to ace journalist Chandrasekhar from his cop acquaintance, Inspector Syed Ali Hassan. The victim is unlike anyone Chandra has ever seen: a white Caucasian male who has all the looks of a throwback to Greek antiquity. Soon after, Hassan calls in to report the case has been taken away from him – in all likelihood by RAW – the Research & Analysis Wing, the uber-agency of Indian intelligence.

What began as a murder enquiry soon morphs into a deadly game of hide-and-seek within the shadowy world of Pakistan’s ISI and India’s RAW; and Chandra, his friend history professor Meenakshi Pirzada and Hassan find themselves in a race against time to avert a sub-continental nuclear holocaust.

As the action moves to its hair-raising climax among the Hindu Kush Mountains of Afghanistan, Chandra must face up to the fact that Inspector Hassan is not all that he seems…

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My View: This book started off really well. Wonderful backdrop, nicely fitting characters and lovely descriptions. I thought it was quickly becoming one of those mystery/ thrillers I end up loving. It had that Dan Brown feel, mixing traditional with modernity, Indian with conventional world. It was turning out to be a good murder mystery and fast paced as well. But alas things were good only for a short time.

It all changed as the book progressed. The book lost its grasp on me, I struggled hard to keep making sense of it. The nuclear theory and science was a bit too much for me. I lost track of what was happening even though I could make sense of the happenings in general.

The characters were intriguing, the mystery element good, the pace nicely done, so what went wrong? I guess the revelation of the mystery, the element did not have that touch which would have rendered the book amazing. I wished it was something else, something different, something more. I was literally left thinking ‘if only things were a bit different’. The writing is nice except that the doorbell, the landline and the cellphone all ‘shrill’, the repetition of words was a bit boring. The premise / concept of the book was nicely done but perhaps things could have been better in the second half of the book, the mystery something different, more meaningful and realistic.

I devoured the first 50-100 pages but after that it became a chore to finish reading this book and I read while skipping unwanted (read confusing and full of rumbled theory) paragraphs and trotting ahead.

Chandrashekhar and Hassan do great as main protagonists. Chandrashekhar’s quick thinking and fearless nature puts him right at the heart of a journalist while Hassan’s loyalty and devotion to his country is worth a dekko at. Meenakshi has a short but important role to play too, the history teacher that puts two and two together and brings the mystery to a close. The little mysteries in the book keep the excitement alive but the big mystery should have been that – big and realistic which alas it wasn’t.

Overall, the book has its good and bad moments. It started great for me but didn’t end that well. Having said that, I should also say that many readers have really liked this book, so maybe you will want to give it a try for yourself.

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