Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Book Review : Resonance written by Ajay Pandey

Image courtesy Ajay Pandey
Thrillers have been my favourite genre of books ever since I could read. After all,  the "Secret Seven" and the "Famous Five" series of Enid Blyton were thrillers too, in their own ways. And so were all the other adventure books of Enid Blyton, including "The Enchanted Wood", "The Magic Faraway Tree", "The Adventures of the Wishing Chair" etc.  With age and time, the adventures got transformed to the present day ones of Lee Child's Jack Reacher fighting all "single-handedly"; and those of spies and secret agents created by authors like Frederick Forsythe, David Baldacci, Clive Cussler and scores of others like Mary Higgins Clark, Michael Connelly, Harlan Coben and Christopher Reich.

And this, my love for thrillers, is what led me to seek out this enticing book jacket peering out from book shelves. A pair of icy blue eyes, belonging to a face hidden behind a keffiyeh, promised a lot of thrills, and so with gusto I sat down to read it. Resonance : the work of first-time author, Ajay Pandey.

The thriller is based around the time the unfortunate Mumbai terror attacks of 26/11 happened. The plot centres around an ex-ISI General, Imran Shah Malik, who is unable to forget the defeat of the Pakistani army at the hands of the Indian armed forces in the Bangladesh war of 1971. Revenge is foremost on his mind and he starts dreaming of it, till one day he simply disappears and then a video surfaces showing him being thrown into the white waters of the Swat river from a mountainous height no human can survive. His son, Aban Malik, studying in the US, is suddenly arrested and then deported to Pakistan. He becomes a rebel and a poster-boy for Jehadist groups.

In the meantime, Siddharth Rana, a Joint Director in the IB, starts investigating into a possible terror attack on India, which is being plotted with the active participation of some traitorous Indians. He goes on from clue to clue trying to figure out what is "To Pak To", which were the last words of a dying CISF officer. And what he uncovers points to a chilling terror plot which, if executed as planned, would bring death and destruction to the country - a catastrophe of such proportions that its after-effects would destroy India forever. 

The book is a thrilling read from the beginning to the end. There is terror, of course. But what sets this book apart from the other stylish and taut thrillers of the West, is that the book does not indulge in demonizing any religion. The author has borrowed heavily from the Sufi traditions of India. Sufism itself evolved as a soothing and soulful blend of the best of Hindu and Islamic beliefs, and hence, the same soulful touch is found in many places in the story. Amidst all the plotting and terror, there is also the tender love story of Aban and Juhi. There are the beliefs of Nausheen Malik, Aban's mother and Imran Shah Malik's wife. There is symbology in terms of the use of Hindu gods like Brahma. There are the beautifully described landscapes of  the rugged mountains of the Af-Pak region and the scenic Swat valley. And of course, there is use of technology and of the force of nature itself, in the planned terror attack.

The author, Ajay Pandey, is an officer of the Indian Revenue Service (IRS). During his long and successful career with the IRS, he has had several occasions to work closely with law enforcement. Other than taxation laws, which, of course, are his bread-and-butter work. This kind of exposure has given him a ring-side view of the world of terrorism, terror financing and economic offences, and that exposure has come into play quite evidently in this book. 

Over all, a wonderful read. A book which is special because it is written by an Indian in the Indian context. The locations, agencies and agent-prototypes are known and familiar. This is Indian Writing in a different genre, a different class. A good read for this holiday season? Definitely, yes.

First-time author Ajay Pandey


  1. Posting from the FaceBook Comments:

    Chose this Christmas Day to say a big thanks to Shubhrata. I've seen many reviews of not only of my work, but also of others, but a very few were so beautifully crafted in the most authentic way as Shubhrata did. Without letting much to be told to take away the suspense and thrill of this work, the core of the "thriller" was explained as if some Master Reviewer is doing an unblemished and unbiased"Critical Review". While reading her review,

    I too was transported back to my old days, when those books and authors, mentioned by Shubhrata, were found snugly hiding under my pillow and I was getting hooked to a different world, away from this real and concrete! After switching off the brightly lit lamp, a bedside lamp was my partner, sometimes humming with its own story.

    Those bloodshot eyes during the day and sleeping or yawning in the classroom used to tell stories, "What I did last night"!. Thank you, Shubhrata for taking me right there, and thank you for this great review.

    I also read a few of your posts in your blog. Those all are simply great. My salute!

  2. Thank you, Sir, for your very kind words!