Title: Baramulla Bomber
Author: Clark Prasad
Publisher: Niyogi Books
ISBN code: 978-93-81523-97-1
Price- Rs 395
Genre- Sci-fi Espionage Thriller
As the back cover introduction reads "An ancient weapon from the Vedas and Bible once hunted by the Nazis, powered by the sound of the universe, reborn with the help of quantum physics going to be unleashed onto the World and Kashmir holds its secret.", I cannot help but get intrigued. This book sells itself through its very description. Science fiction meets espionage and a fast-paced, action-packed saga is born. The book is only the first "Eka" of the Svastik Triology and leaves one wondering what else has the author in store for us in the coming sequels.
A word about the author Suraj Prasad aka Clark Prasad- "a healthcare management consultant who had dreamt of being an archeologist or an astronaut." it says in his bio. Well, when you read the book you'd come to know how the novel is actually an extension of his own self. Currently based in Bengaluru, the author has lived in Lagos (Nigeria), Delhi, Mangalore and Kozhikode and is deeply influenced by Carl Sagan's "Cosmos". I see definitely influences of Jeffery Archer and Dan Brown in his writing and also a bit of Tolkien. You'd understand what I am talking about once you read the book.
Now, the book starts with a 'Warning' in bold letters not to flip through pages lest the suspense will evaporate and a request to the bloggers not to reveal the plot. I sense a deep attachment of the author with his story and I'd like to talk as less about the plot and characters as possible. Then science and religion are brought to a confluence on the next two pages where Albert Einstein, Rig Veda and the Bible are quoted hinting toward a cosmic religion. The book has graphic illustrations at different places which make the story come alive and give it an eerie realness. The main characters are Mansur Haider- A Kashmiri and his girlfriend Ahana Yajurvedi. We also have Swedish intelligence officer Adolf Silfverskiold who is a non-believer. These are the pawns being played on a chessboard much larger than they can imagine. Let's leave it at that.
Every chapter begins with a World map and a target focus sign above the area where the event is about to transpire, that gives the novel the feel of an action movie. The novel has broad spatio-temporal horizons and at one juncture we're talking about the ancient times, suddenly we're in medieval era and the next moment we're in present day World. The book is bigger than its characters and they all come to life in a World where conspiracies run deep and high. The chapters are also designed to serve as a countdown to the climax which makes the book to be read in a single sitting with zero distractions.
The language used in the book caters to an average Indian reader who is just starting out with Indian fiction. The author tries not to be fanciful with the wordplay and is probably because he has already given the reader too much to munch on already in terms of drama and suspense. Personally, I could have gone for a language that suits with the intricacy of the plot but maybe to the author, the thickness of the plot was enough codification already. The pages are crisp and the novel is a definite page-turner. At 313 pages, the novel is fast-paced read and ideal for journeys and long waiting hours. To be very honest, Clark does not try to do an H G Wells or a Tolkien with the theme, he takes the story and slowly weaves it around with tools that he finds fit.
One more thing is the clear lack of intellectual snobbery in the book. The book is not about turning non-believers into believers. When you go to the movies, you don't reason with the director about the themes and theology of the plot, similarly, this book requires you to indulge yourself without any pre-conceived notions and simply enjoy the read. There are books that are for niche audience and there are ones for everyone. This one is somewhere in between.
I'd give the book 2.75 out of five stars.