Book Review: The Krishna Key
Two huge blue colored doors, possibly wooden, vedic flower designs splattered over them in a matrix pattern, bells hanging from each of those flowers, golden pegs, an ornate lead lock that brings them together with a single beam of light between them hinting at the other side and golden words underneath the huge lock proclaiming The Krishna Key. The cover design by Ahlawat Gunjan hints at a lot of things that we will encounter in the 464 pages of this historical thriller by India’s very own Ashwin Sanghi. Unlike popular talk I would not christen him as India’s Dan Brown for the sheer fact that it would be undermining his talent to layer complicate. Complicating simple things is easier than complicating already complicated things and that too in layers of complications!
Sanghi after a moderately complex plot in is back to what he did in his first book . There are multiples of everything – places, faiths, proofs, characters, perceptions even deductions. The characters are layered and complex, so many characters turn to be not what they were that eventually you start doubting every character in there and the beauty of the writing is that it never gets out of hand. The narration is crisp and racy, though owing to the mammoth research that has gone into the book it does go into an information overload though you do expect it to tie up in the end and it does. An applaud-able factor that hangs over you is the research that has gone into the book apparent not just from the 135 sources listed as part of the references but also from the fact that the story travels from Kalibangan in Rajastan to Dwarka and Somnath in Gujrat to Mount Kailash in Tibet to Vrindavan and Agra in UP and to a lot of other places but the appeal and detailing of each place remains in perfect tandem with the plot. This is one thriller that closes all the nooks even a side crack but the joy is all those are closed by the author and not the reader. Every deduction that may come to us as we chug along the book gets proven wrong and delightfully so.
Sanghi is one of the pioneers in ‘Indian historical thriller’ fiction genre and this one, his third, is again on the same lines. He digs into the annals of the complicated maze if Indian history, Indian mythology and the allied rumors and pulls out a cracker of a story. Our story starts with the brutal murder of a linguist and symbolist, an Indus valley civilization expert – Anil Varshey. The murder has the makings of a religious fanatic at work and rightly so because the killer is a psychopath who believes that he is the 10th incarnation of the Hindu preserver god Vishnu – Kalki and that there is righteousness in his wrongs as dictated by someone he calls Mataji. The murder is also accompanied by the theft of an ancient seal that is part of a set of four, the other three of which lie between Varshney’s friends – Historian Ravi Mohan Saini, under sea Archeology expert Dr. Nikhil Bhojaraj, Nuclear Scientist Rajaram Kurkunde and life sciences researcher Devendra Chhedi. The seals also have a base plate that would hold them together and reveal the position of a secret of Krishna, Vishnu’s 8th incarnation. The base plate is in a security vault left in the name of Ravi Mohan by Varshney. A series of murders of Varshney’s friends follow with the same pattern – corpse in sitting position with a scalpel jutting out of the left leg, a symbol of Vishnu stamped in blood over the forehead and a Sanskrit shloka painted in the same blood. As all this happens Ravi Mohan in on the run from the police because every murder happens with a scalpel that has his initials engraved on them – R.M. – does it mean Ravi Mohan or does it mean the supposed sword of Kalki – Ratna Maru, no one knows. What is Krishna’s secret – is it a nuclear weapon – a brahmastra, his DNA or something else, no one knows. Is it in Kailash, Somnath or Vrindavan, no one knows? Even the base plate will also reveal the secret only in riddles that could mean a couple of places. Also adding to the mystery is why did Varshey choose fellow yadavas Saini, Bhojraj, Kurkunde and Chhedi to guard Krishna’s secret, the same five clans who helped Krishna build Dwaraka.
Sanghi takes the reader through a maze of history and mythology very efficiently and had it not been a 450+ pager you would not really put it down. There are a lot of ‘oh shit or oh no’ moments which ofcourse are what a thriller junkie would want and the ride is very bit worth it. I was a tad irritated with the known snippets of Mahabharata making an appearance once-in-a-while, breaking the flow of the unknown thriller that we are devouring on, because it is not really a parallel story like has been the trade mark of the author’s earlier books. But the way it ties up in the end is the essence of the whole quest. Tilting towards some serious information overload the book is a must read for anyone who loves history or thriller or both or mythology or even just a well etched, well written story.
Quoting Karan Johar from Jhalak Dikla Jaa, “It’s a Blockbuster.”
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Part of South Asian Challenge 2012
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Thank you Ashwin Sanghi and My Smart Price for gifting me a signed copy!
This review is honored to be part of Ashwin Sanghi’s review list on his website.