Book Review: The Girl Who Loved A Pirate
Thrillers tend to be either similar to creaking bones oozing with wisdom or strut with the irreverent arrogance of youth that has little to convey. It is rare to come across one that defies these clichés and defines itself as being both young and sane… and I can say with a lot of confidence that Kulpreet Yadav has managed to do precisely this in his latest Andy Karan thriller The Girl Who Loved A Pirate. Yes sir, this book is both young and sane.
Yes, it is thrilling to come face-to-face once more with Andy Karan who has ‘eyes that defined him. Like pebbles in the rivers flowing through the mountains, they were clear and cold.’ It is equally thrilling to meet Dao-Ming from Malacca who is ‘stunning, perhaps the most stunning woman he had seen in his entire life. Her porcelain skin was taut over her face, the lips were like pink pebbles, and the eyes had mysterious warmth. She wore no make-up.’ Let me add here that the book isn’t just about an investigative journalist and ‘a Nonya (whose) name meant ‘shining path’ but also a pirate of the world called Ba-Qat who is ‘much like the other pirates but his nose was sharp, and his eyes didn’t slant’ and who unabashedly dreamt of ‘a life without the sound of gun-shots. No more cries of pain. And no more blood.’ With characters like those I have just mentioned, it is plausible to imagine a recipe that has all the fire-power that any writer ever wants, and Kulpreet has obviously caressed and stroked a plot that has the potential to make other thrillers appear to be ‘waves that looked like wriggling maggots washed (on) a yellow beach…’
Let me say here that if a thriller slumps in your arms and snores, you the reader will simply get up and pick up another book… but here I was with a book that made me do all sorts of calisthenics, drink water, pull my eyelids to tell sleep to postpone its overtures until I had finally read the book completely. Yes, I did not sleep and the book sang no lullabies. I was literally driving my attention from one thrilling page to another and the book to my mind was literally like magic, a concoction or a ‘mix of naturally produced heroin and synthetically made fentanyl’. Well yes, this book brings Andy to the beaches of Goa to know why his journalist colleague was murdered… and he walks right into a plot with much more than drug lords and their petty gang-wars.
One does get flashes of psychological insights into the mind of a criminal when the author writes that ‘the criminals never believed in killing their adversaries quickly. And from times immemorial, they had not learnt from their mistakes.’ Though I would not readily want to agree when the author wants us to believe that ‘criminals were perhaps more faithful to basic human emotions’ because the turn-around trait of Ba-Qat seen during his mission in the Arabian sea is more than enough proof that criminals are as much fascinated by perceived benefits as anyone else. As a reader I will, however, glide over all these psychological mumbo-jumbo moments and go back to wrap myself in the awe-inspiring action that goes on without the slightest slack in tempo. However, for those of you who are reading this review to know more on the plot, let me just say that besides blood gushing and guns roaring, this is also the story of ‘the most beautiful woman who was madly in love with the world’s most dreaded criminal’. The basic DNA of the book ensures that all your plans to go to sleep, once you begin treading this book, go haywire.
Ah! Talking of plans, I am reminded of the time when one of the characters in the book mentions that plans sometimes ‘looked fool-proof. But she knew all plans looked fool-proof on the drawing boards. When the time came for action, unforeseen hurdles popped up. The real talent was in handling these challenges.’ A reader generally enjoys reading not just the sort of challenges that the protagonists in a book are faced with but is also interested in the way these challenges are handled. I mean there are books, I have read where criminals are handed sophisticated weapons and all they do is press the trigger… or detectives who just keep pouncing on or jumping over or climbing walls to catch them. I find such books rather monotonous after a while because I want the detective to think and to make me think…to plan and implement that plan in a way that triggers my imagination to excitedly follow him around. I don’t want plans to be so clinical that they transcend credibility. Andy Karan offers daring suggestions and does make my mind accept them all and move with him sharing all the tension and the anticipated adrenalin flow. The reader in me races with him, falters and falls with him, and also philosophises with him. What greater joy can there be to be doing all this even as the bullets whizz by and dead bodies keep falling into the sea… until, like Karan, the warrior, I am not sure if I have ‘won or lost, but he was sure that he had loved by his principles and never allowed the circumstances of his birth to control his life.’
This book makes you jog across the 121 km shoreline of Goa, makes you bob like a small boat in the rough and deep seas, has intriguing moments placed in a strait ‘littered with thousands of islets’, has secret agents and pirates collaborating to make the world a better place to live in, and surprisingly has romance perched precariously on it all. The book is all about the promise and the will to keep a promise and the dilemma that comes alive when Andy has to ‘choose between the promise made to a woman he admired for the loyalty to her lover, and the promise he had made for the country.’ The book is all about decisions and the way they make us mutate or take the law in our own hands. The book is all about strength and the way some of us get addicted to it. The book is all about the thrilling moments in the life of an investigative journalist and the knowledge that ‘your first mistake was your last.’ The book is all about pirates not needing to be tutored and that after the basic detailing ‘they were on their own, and more often than not, a pirate accomplished his goals.’
I can go on and on… but let me just end by saying that this book is all about another thriller written well.
Browse through the full list of book reviews in the depths of the Pensieve.