Sunday, 10 January 2016

Book Review : Mumbai Avengers, S Hussain Zaidi


MUMBAI AVENGERS : S HUSSAIN ZAIDI


For the past 25 years and more, we have been facing the evil and duplicitous activities of Pakistani-supported terror groups, aided fully by Pakistan and its organisations. We have witnessed and withered many a murderous attack,  and paid a heavy price in blood, all for no fault of ours. In all the list of attacks we have suffered, no single attack holds as much relevance and importance to the national consciousness than the one that happened on the fateful date 26/11.


Mumbai stands as a beacon in India – it is the city of hope, and the personification of the spirit of struggle, hard work, innovation, and enterprise that is present in all Indians; it is to us Indians representative of something larger than what it is physically, and that is why an attack there was so hard hitting. It also attacked the centers that represented the new India-  the rising India, the India of Business, fast growth and great global prospects. That is why this attack was so important an event; almost a watershed. These people were trying to attack the ideal of new India...


Image result for mumbai avengers 
The current book under review takes on from the feeling of deep hurt and helplessness in the people rising from this cataclysmic event , and goes on to craft a plot that seeks not revenge – but justice. The emotional connect it {the concept} made with me was immediate; it was an enticing and deeply engaging thought and concept, and was further written by one of the most accomplished non-fiction writers in the reality / underworld genre – S Hussain Zaidi.






THE PLOT
The plot is deceptively simple – go after the perpetrators, the planners of the 26/11 plot and bring them to justice, strike back at the monster and seek justice for the victims of the wanton murder and mayhem that happened from 26/11/2008 to 30/11/2008 in Mumbai, India. The book is, from the start to the finish,single-mindedly focussed on only one aspect : Justice. There are no subplots, no needless twists and turns, and no mandatory love angle anywhere. That is the beauty of the plot; it is a lovely taut narrative, completely focussed in its core task with no diversions at all.


The concept has been rolled out extremely well, and comes across as totally feasible and practical; that is its main power. The story starts with a presentation by a retired Army General with a proposal to hit back at Pakistan; one which immediately meets with scepticism and mistrust from the political powers that be. This General – Lt General Syed Waris Ali – is then approached by an old friend from his army days – now in RAW with a simple proposition : do it. But I don’t know you did it, and you don’t know or remember that I told you to do it.


That comes across as completely and devastatingly believable in the real world; this is further buttressed further on, when the team put together for the task needs help – which is denied initially, only to be given later after a public adulation of these national heroes : again, very plausible.  There is no jingoism, or one-man action scenes; instead, you see a team – or rather set of teams at work, fitting together and gelling together into one whole.


The General, after being assured of all help in every way being given by the friend, including his choice of personnel from the forces and intelligence community, then crafts together a multi-disciplinary team of hardcore professionals. These people, led by the very capable General Ali, then go about delivering justice – starting from locating their current location, selecting how to give justice, and then the deliverance. This forms the meat of the book as our heroes go out to achieve the impossible for the nation and the victims.


The rest of the book forms the hunt and the deliverance of justice; each hunt is different from the others, each is painstakingly planned out and plotted, executed with near-perfection as the kingpins of the plot start falling one after the other. This does not go unnoticed by the ISI, as well as the Chinese, who play a lovely double role, playing both sides efficiently as per their needs. This is what sets up the climax, as all the forces come together to try and prevent the final damage, and the biggest kingpin of the terror factory’s fall...



THE ANALYSIS

The book is not one of your rapid and blinding fast thrillers shooting your way through pages; this is an excellently crafted, carefully plotted suspense thriller. The narrative is sufficiently fast paced to keep your interest not only alive, but captivated; and yet, it is slow enough that the complexities of the hunt and the justice are fully developed. This is important, for this is not your average revenge book or spy thriller. The targets have to be taken out one by one, which means that ensuring zero suspicion on India or on the team is paramount.


That is the only way the plot can be carried forward logically, given the parameters of the operation, and given that this isn’t a commando style operation – which is anyway infeasible, as the targets are widely dispersed geographically. That is why the story has to be complex and yet plausible- which  it is in every way. The surgical precision of each strike is a thing of beauty, as is the part about the hunt for the target within the limitations imposed by the Government. And the way the story links effortlessly to the climax is excellent – and completely flawless.


The character development is as required by the storyline and the genre; effective; the characters are well etched and very well developed with bold strokes and strong personalities, as befits the task requirement. Each character is a flawless and effortless fit in this story; given the wide range of personalities and characters adopted, this is the most fabulous aspect of the book. Each character comes across  as believable, and, at times, reacts exactly as we would expect someone in the real world with a similar background or personality. This is realism at its best.


All in all, I rate it 5 stars out of 5, and as one of the best fiction thrillers to have been written  in Indian English. S Hussian Zaidi’s expertise in the genre of real crime is well known, {you can find three non-fiction works reviewed on my blog},  - this book is an added feather in his cap. The research done is extensive, and its shows. The book is a riveting read, has a powerful emotional trigger for Indians, as well as is crafted and put together very well indeed...

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