Book Review: The Night It Rained Guns

the night it rained gunsI had heard of the Purulia arms drop growing up, without ever fully understanding the context. It is clear that Chandan Nandy – the author of The Night It Rained Guns – was however, fully consumed by it. I picked this book up with great expectation, expecting to finish it in not more than two days, the average time it takes me to read well written non-fiction crime or history books.

Nandy, however, had a mind of his own. First, he revealed the entire plot of the book in the foreword, which was as criminal for a book lover like me, as the arms drop itself was in its day! He continues this in the first chapter, wherein he analyses the arms drop and its machinations, like a professor poring deep over his notes without caring if anyone is listening to his lecture, droning on and on about how ten agencies failed and why. I lost faith in Nandy’s book writing capabilities at this point.

Second, there are sections in the book that have an incredible number of acronyms – some of which Nandy seems to forget to explain the full forms of; this of course, made for a rather jarring read. Third, the book itself was stop and start. Nandy regularly follows up interesting sections in the book with droll pieces such as an entire chapter devoted to global arms warfare, which read like one of my school history book chapters.

In the hands of S. Hussain Zaidi (Dongri to Dubai, Mafia Queens of Mumbai, Black Friday, etc.) this book would have been a taut thriller and a classic. But in its present state, it is merely just another journalist’s labor of love.

Nandys’ folly is in assuming everybody knows or cares about the Purulia arms drop after decades as much as he did. You could simply read just the foreword and the first chapter and know what happened in its entirety and wonder why the rest of the book exists.

The book is in clear need of a professional editor. Snip some sections, delete the foreword and the first chapter which give it all away and make the book read like a story is supposed to be read – from start to finish – instead of in stop-starts and you would have a four to five star thriller.

Title: The Night It Rained Guns
Author: Chandan Nandy
Publisher/ Imprint: Rupa Publications
Pages: 273
Genre/ Sub-Genre: Non-fiction/ Crime
Rating: 2.00 of 5
Reviewed for: Publisher

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