Book : The Karachi Deception
Author : Shatrujeet Nath
Pages : 251
Publishers : Grey Oak/Westland

As a kid, one of my favourite genres was the spy thriller. Not necessarily the James Bond variety, though. I preferred the more intellectually stimulating variety that kept you guessing as chapter after chapter unfolded. Spies, double agents, red herrings, hidden agendas - the works.

Shatrujeet Nath's debut novel reminded me of those days again. In 'The Karachi Deception', the Indian Army intelligence and RAW combine to form a team to take down an underworld don, hiding within the safe havens of Pakistan (sound familiar ?). Leading his special ops team and managing inflated bureaucratic egos  proves to be the least of Major Imtiaz's worries as the mission - 'Project Abhimanyu' runs into one brick wall after another after entering Pakistan. It soon becomes obvious that not everyone is playing for the same team as their jersey would indicate and that the mission has been compromised right from the very beginning. In this scenario, the team must now determine not just who they can trust any more but also whether they can still complete the mission. Does Project Abhimanyu end up being a success or are the team doomed to end up like the ill-fated son of Arjun from the Mahabharatas ?

First off, let me just say that this is a very enjoyable read. There is no time for niceties and right off the top, you are dropped into the action with an assassination attempt. From there on, the plot moves rapidly from the formation of the team within Indian soil and their deployment into Pakistan even as another key character plots an assassination of his own in the background. I was really impressed with the attention to detail and the way certain real-life events have been blended seamlessly into the storyline. To say more on that point would be to reveal too much but you will understand what I'm talking about as you read it. Many a time while reading, I kept thinking 'This could happen, you know.'

More importantly, I was impressed with the author. With so many Indian authors entering the market, it's easy to allow a fall in standards while hoping to make a quick buck. But that isn't the case here. Shatrujeet Nath characters are well fleshed out, the twists and red herrings are scattered at the right time to make you guess and second guess his motives (always a good sign in a spy novel) and his hold over the language and intricate descriptions are far better than most of the new Indian authors in the market. 

It is never easy to take up a genre and not evoke comparisons. Shatrujeet made me smile as I finished the novel because I was recalling the old Robert Ludlum novels I used to read as a teenager - where a knight in a game of chess realises he's just a pawn and isn't even sure what colours the surrounding pieces in the game are. For so many decades, we've read Robert Ludlum, Tom Clancy et al bring us these characters in a Cold War setting. I'm glad we finally have a genuine spy thriller set against the backdrop of the Indo-Pak proxy war. It was long overdue.

A word of appreciation for Grey Oaks/Westland publishers too. Besides maintaining a good quality for the paperbacks, I want to give a thumbs up to the editor. Having read quite a few Indian rom-coms recently with glaring spelling mistakes and grammatical errors, to see no errors in a book with a much higher standard of language than the others shows commitment to getting a quality product made. 

I'm going with 4/5 Appletinis for this book. Cheers and well done. A must read for all spy thriller lovers.

P.S. I read that the author is presently working on a trilogy series based on the legend of King Vikramaditya. While I wish him success in his endeavours, on a personal note, I would love to see him revisit the espionage genre again some day in the future.    


Sounds absolutely my kind of book..I love thrillers. I am reading Dongri to Dubai right now.

Lazy Pineapple
you will love this... a good thriller with some very realistic touches.
Thanks for the review. Will definitely consider this given your excellent taste in literature.
Anonymous said…
I am glad that the standard of Indian novels is getting better. This was long overdue. I hope this book does well in the market.
It is a welcome change... better than most Indian books I've read in recent times.
same here. At some level, I do wonder if we've not gone overboard with everyone writing a college romance. There are so many genres available and an Indo-Pak proxy spy thriller is just what I would prefer frankly
Binu Thomas said…
Nice review Roshan. I am now in the process of browsing and selecting some books to read and review. Thriller genre excites me. I recently read a military thriller and was fun since the books directly starts the plot and there's no "laying down the plot" chapters in the beginning. Cool!

And you are right about the latest "Indian" books coming in the market. It seems they are being pushed to attract the larger share of the revenue pie and by doing so, they are ignoring the aspects like editing / proof reading. I personally have read some books.
try this I said, I was impressed with Grey Oaks selection and work as well.. there are certain publishers who are flooding the market with tons of books without even editing basic spelling mistakes..