Book Review: Skyfire
The trio of journalist Chandrasekhar, historian Meenakshi Pirzada and intelligence officer Syed Ali Hassan from The Shadow Throne is back in Aroon Raman‘s 3rd novel – Skyfire. After dabbling in historical fiction for his 2nd book – The Treasure of Kafur, Raman is back to writing what he started off with and to a very large extent he doesn’t disappoint. In the horde of crime thrillers, a socio-political thriller is a welcome change and a well researched one at that.
Skyfire brings to light two mysteries. Miles apart and absolutely unrelated. Freak weather incidents that seem to be having mammoth impact on the public at large and increased disappearance of homeless urchins from the streets of Delhi. Meenakshi and Chandrasekhar run a school for the desolate slum dwellers in Delhi and when police lands up at the school looking for one of Meenakshi’s favourite and regular students – Gopal – is when something amiss is first detected in the whole scheme of things. They notice that even the other kids are too scared to open up anything about Gopal or his whereabouts. When the duo start enquiring at the slum for Gopal is when they come to know that the disappearances of the homeless have shot up in the last few months especially of the old, women and children and mostly of the ones who had no one else. No one to even lodge a police complaint!
While Meenakshi and Chandrasekhar try to involve Hassan in the missing people scam for official help, and also because Gopal was Hassan’s favourite and the boy literally hero worshipped the intelligence officer, but Hassan was hardly able to make any time. He was involved in cracking a mystery which was soon turning into a national security issue. According to intelligence feeds and metrological department’s findings someone was messing with nature and was getting ready with weather warfare. Someone was triggering ‘natural’ calamities and was targeting the breakdown of the nation in its aftermath.
Are these two problems connected is what Skyfire wants us to know…
Raman once again has researched very well for the story and builds an intriguing plot around medical advancements, weather manipulation, NGO roles and the national psyche. The story moves well and in spiked with twists and shocks right where you need them. While the novel is essentially a thriller, it has its moments of getting to knowing the protagonists and that space were they come from.
What did not work for me is the surprise factor about the villain; there is none. Right when the character is introduced in the story, you know there is something unbelievable there and you are indeed proven right, which while reading a thriller is such a disappointment. Though the story is well plotted, it falters at the climax like so many other thrillers. The ending is just not as nerve recking as the build up intended it to be and this alone gives the novel a flat tyre. Unfortunately the climax takes the breath out of the story and not the reader. While it is a good thriller, it is not yet where Shatrujeet Nath’s The Karachi Deception or Sami Ahmad Khan’s Red Jihad is.
Pick up if you are looking for a thriller beyond the run-of-the-mill murder mysteries. Faults aside you will still find it difficult to put the book down.
Author: Aroon Raman
Publisher/ Imprint: Pan Macmillan India
Genre/ Sub-Genre: Fiction/ Thriller
Rating: 4.00 of 5.00
Reviewed for: Flipkart Blogger Review Program
Read the reviews of other books rated 4 star by Team TP HERE