An Interesting Conspiracy ….
Well, Indian authors are indeed venturing into all genres of writing and are doing well in most of them. Recently I read a suspense thriller “The Taj Conspiracy” by Manreet Sodhi Someshwar. Here is the blurb of the book. (@Goodreads)
Mughal scholar Mehrunisa Khosa stumbles on a conspiracy to destroy the Taj Mahal when she discovers the murder of the Taj supervisor, and the Quranic calligraphy on the tomb of Queen Mumtaz altered to suggest a Hindu origin of the Taj Mahal….
That urban legend had always existed. Now, though, someone was conspiring to make it come true. In the case of the
famed marble monument, all was not on the surface. A vast labyrinth ran underneath closed to visitors where Mehrunisa was trapped once.
In a series of suspenseful twists and turns, the action traverses from the serene splendour of Taj Mahal to the virulent warrens of Taj Ganj, from intrigue-laden corridors of Delhi to snowy Himalayan hideouts….
As a right-wing Hindu party ratchets up its communal agenda and Islamic militants plot a terror attack, in the dark corners of his devious mind a behrupiya, a shapeshifter, is conniving to divide the nation in two. To save the Taj Mahal, Mehrunisa must overcome a prejudiced police and battle her inner demons as she sifts the multiple strands that lead to the conspirator.
We all know Taj Mahal as the jewel of India, the monument that symbolizes love, the monument that stands as a symbol of the love that blossomed between the Mughal Emperor and his beloved Mumtaz. However, there are a fair share of controversies that surround Taj. Right from P.N. Oak’s Tejo Mahalaya claim and the proofs he brought out. There are many claims and controversies that surround Taj. The author of the book “Manreet Sodhi Maheshwar” picked Taj and the controversies surrounding it as the subject for her book and wove a suspense thriller that captures the imagination and interest of the readers.
The book starts with the death of the Taj Supervisor “Arun Toor”. The body and the cryptic message beside it are discovered by Mehrunisa, a mughal scholar and the daughter of an Indian father and an Iranian mother. A shocked Mehrunisa is further disturbed when she follows the cryptic message and finds something in Taj. What does she discover? Why is her discovery significant and what does that mean for her? Is there a bigger conspiracy behind the death? If yes who are all involved? What has the Hindu leaning right-wing party got to do with all this? Why are people across the border interested in all this ? Will Mehrunisa succeed in solving all these puzzles and bring the culprits to book? Who all are going to help her in the quest ? & what all are the challenges they are going to face is something we ought to read in the book.
While a female protagonist is in itself a fantastic idea, Mehrunisa’s beliefs, her association with her god father, the
conviction she displays are all very well portrayed in the book. You also would like the character of R.P Singh and his dedication for his job. There are many more interesting characters you would discover as you read the 400+ page book.
I liked the research done by the author, the way she created 400+ plot around it. The research the author did is real awesome. Her descriptions of Taj and the associated structures around it are vivid and arouse interest. Few details which would be ignored by most of the tourists were well captured and the significance of these things were very well explained. The author used very good language and the story has been ornated with some very nice words.
Coming to the things I did not like, yeah I did feel that the climax was a let down. Some parts of the story just do not come to a logical conclusion. For example, I did not understand why our western neighbor wanted to play with the historical monument and why changed the course of action. Some back ground there would have helped. Again, bringing in naga sadhus and all the frenzied crowds in the end was slightly taking the steam away from a plot that was looking water tight. I also thought that giving more background to the involvement of Pamposh would have been good, someone starting off with such a heinous act for being uprooted from one’s native place sounds a little too much .
I had another problem with the book, at some point of time, the hindu in me was feeling very uncomfortable. I wanted to focus on the plot and was interested in what the author says and persisted with the book. The expletives and punches on Hindus could have been avoided. The thinly veiled references to leaders of right-wing Hindu parties and jibes at their habits could have been avoided. Well, all these are my personal opinions though.
All in all, a nice book, one ought to appreciate the author for trying out a new genre in the contemporary Indian writing. One might have a difference of opinion, but bringing down structures of national significance and importance is not the right way of expressing it. This was my key take away from the book. The book could have been in altogether a new league if the climax was a little more powerful and had the author refrained from the jibes on Hindus. However, it is still a very good read. Do pick it up when you have time, you would definitely know more facts about Taj and would definitely enjoy the read.
This is the first part of the trilogy, there are two more books to come. Let’s see what the author has in store for us, for sure am going to read part 2. My final words on the book, do pick it up when you have time, you would enjoy the read and grow wiser about the heritage of Taj. Happy reading.