Friday, 18 September 2015

Brutal - Uday Satpathy

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A taut debut by a promising writer.

I love reading new authors and this is a great time to be reading them. More and more local names are coming out with some great original stories or with a twist on the traditional ones. On my annual trips to India, I make it a point to browse through new names and invariably pick out promising books to take back with me.

It is great to see choice of genres too. Chick lit, crime mythology, you name it and Indian names are out there making their mark. Also, there are more avenues for these writers, to reach out to the readers and get a chance to prove themselves.

Therefore, I was elated when Writer's Ezine announced that I had won this book in a giveaway. With crime being a current favourite genre, I was looking forward to this Indian crime story. However, even before I opened the book, my initial thoughts were heavily influenced by the book jacket. Going by its cover, I braced myself to expect a good deal of violence in its pages.

I was not wrong.

What I found was violence accompanied with a gripping storyline and some great writing.


A teacher is accused of carrying out a massacre at a school. Covering the case in court is Prakash a journalist, who has just recovered from a perilous assignment and is getting back on his feet after a hiatus. He hopes that this routine assignment will ease him back into work.

What seems like a predictable job turns into a deadly game of survival when the prime accused is shot dead in public. Prakash decides to delve into it and unearths some deadly truths. Along with his colleagues Seema and Mrinal, Prakash becomes an unwilling participatant in a game that threatens to be fatal for them all.

What works:
  • Right from page 1, the reader is glued to his seat and treated to a roller coaster ride of events.
  • There is always some action happening and before you realise, you are a part of it, chasing the truth with Prakash and his friends.
  • The book is a short one and can be easily finished in one sitting, ideal for those train and car journeys.
  • The pace is quick and the narrative races through places and events keeping the reader occupied.
What doesn't:
  • What I love about crime novels, apart from the whodunnit bit, is a parallel storyline about the protagnist himself. That doesn't seem to be happening here. Although there is information about Prakash and his past, the myopic vision of the fast paced action prevents Prakash from endearing himself to the reader. 
  • The passive voice that fills the reader in with the information jars a bit.  the paragraph just goes on and on loaded with information. 
  • Typo errors in the pages are a bit of a turn off.
  • Too much focus on the plot, less on building of characters. Seema, Mrinal are such fascinating characters but although we are told about them, we do not have the luxury of knowing them better. The info is too brief for us to engage with their lives.
That said, it cannot be argued it is a taut thriller, full of action and a compelling contemporary storyline. The plot is well executed and has a sound structure. It must not have been easy dealing with a crime action paced story. However, the descriptions are very graphic and the narrative flows well. The writing also offers great verbal visuals whether it is about the chase or some of the gory elements that are a part of the story.

Hats off to the team what worked with the author in launching this edge-of-the-seat thriller. However, a bit of proofreading would not have gone amiss.

Overall a racy read. A promising debut. Recommended.

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