I finished reading it in December 2020. Caught up as I was with the festivities of finally bidding Goodbye to 2020, and being bed ridden for a couple weeks due to a bad bout of flu, I couldn’t review this one. So here goes!
The story revolves around Sandhya Raman, a journalist who moves to London to get over the grief of a personal loss and begin her life anew. While in London, she lives as a paying guest at The Sawant’s home, who seem to be a quiet, normal Indian family. She starts working for the BBC and in the course of her job, uncovers a dark secret about an institute fronting as a Welfare Centre for the intellectually disabled.
Propelled by her desire to find out the truth, Sandy initiates a sting operation and inadvertently begins a dangerous chain of events that might lead to her death.
What is the secret? Who is behind it?
How are The Sawant’s connected to it all?
More importantly, will Sandy be able to find the truth in time?
RAFO my friends! (Read and Find Out!)
As soon as the story begins, there is a very subtle, yet persistent sense of tightly woven suspense. There are a couple of sentences, and excerpts peppered around the text that keep nagging the reader, knocking on the door of understanding, telling us that there is 𝒔𝒐𝒎𝒆𝒕𝒉𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒐𝒇𝒇.
Not having read the blurbs or reviews, the revelation of the crux of the novel was brilliant for me. All the while, I kept guessing and wondering and refused to turn to the back to look up the description. Which led me to this big 𝘼𝙝𝙖! moment as I read Chapter 6.
We are led on Sandy’s journey as she tries to make sense of her life in a new place, after a huge personal loss. The character arc for the protagonist is beautifully developed. The other characters are also strong and make their presence felt in the way we strongly despise some, and are mildly intrigued by others.
The only thing that felt a little off to me were the instances where the author has tried to show a connection between Sandy and her Indian roots and culture. And even though it is clear that one of the objectives of the story is to portray the Indian girl in foreign land, these instances seemed a little forced and naive to me, esp. considering the contemporary context in which the book is set. Maybe it makes sense because Sandy is nineteen? I don’t know. Maybe it’s just me. 😅
The author has been an investigative journalist for a considerable period of her life, and the experience shows in the plot line. We are exposed to the underbelly of red tape in journalism and the myriad aspects of sting operations. There is also a sub textual vein of the significance of media and the role it plays in building the temperament of the general public.
It’s a nail biting roller coaster of uncomfortable truths and eye opening life lessons, as Sandy battles to uncover the racket of illegal and inhumane treatment of patients in the care of so called Welfare Centres. The stakes are raised as one after the other, all the people involved in the investigation, die unexpectedly or meet with strange accidents.
The book successfully surpasses all expectations of a debut novel. The paperback is 317 pages and I finished it in two days. It is an action-packed, no nonsense thriller. There is very little time or page space given to what we call world building or other descriptive details. The language is contemporary and the writing is crisp; the story unfolds in a series of dates and times which to me felt very astute.
I enjoyed reading this book very much, and would recommend it to readers looking for a fast paced thriller.
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