Okay, before I begin with the review, I have a confession to make. I am simply fascinated by Goa. The churches, the temples, the Portuguese-cum-Konkani heritage, the names, the sartorial sense, the history, the heritage, the beaches, the tourists and of course, the food. I have been there only once, for a very brief period, but want to go there again and explore the state.
That's one of the reasons I agreed to read and review this book for Rohan- I had to see Goa through the eyes off someone who grew up there. And since his book was a thriller, it made the book all that more enticing.
That's one of the first merits, and one of the biggest ones, of this novel- it doesn't just tell you a story, it serves you Goa on a platter. It takes you on a merry roller-coaster through the cities, the casinos and the exotic dancers and the parties and the drugs. It captures the very essence of Goa very well.
The second big merit of this book is the plot. Thrillers are usually more plot-based than character-based, and this book has an intriguing plot with the right mixture of mystery, thrills and adventure.
Four friends from college reunite in Panaji, where the protagonist lives. The characters are also well-written- boorish Bhavesh, Ifti who struts about like a peacock, the sensuous, independent and feisty Priya and her sensible but often-irritating brother Pratik.
The protagonist's own problem, which crops up when he is supposed to be enjoying with his friends, gives the plot and Ashwin himself some depth, and also characterizes his attitude for most of the book.
The plot becomes interesting when, on their reunion, Pratik unveils a secret plan he hhas had, the real purpose of his trip to Goa. That plan takes the five friends on a wild goose chase and brings them in contact with rave parties, goons and drug lords and cranky old men who shoot anyone who they don't like.
There are some comic moments, bound to happen when multiple players are chasing after the same destination.
I also liked the twister of a love story between Ifti and his Uzbek girlfriend Maya. That was actual thriller material, as was the crux that drives the plot.
I liked the women characters- they're strong and have a mind of their own.
The writing is of good quality. The prose is eloquent and flows well. The editing is good, but could have been better.
My only nitpicks with the book are minor typo errors, tiny grammar mistakes and wrong use of words. Not that they hampered my reading experience, which was great. But since the book scores on all other fronts, better editing will make it even better and complete the package. I also would have liked to know what happened to Ekaterina.
Rohan is one of the next big names in the thriller genre. I wish him all the best for his future work and await his next book.
If you are a thriller aficionado and have a thing for Goa, go buy your copy here: 1000 kilograms of Goa