The gripping secret
An Indian context to the edge of the seat thriller, threat of biochemical weapon, Indian investigative agent, scientists and their deadly secrets, common man turned hero who finds himself on a quest, nerve-wracking twists, murders and mystery – author S Venkatesh's 'Kaalkoot – The Lost Himalayan Secret' is yet another testimony that Indian thriller genre has come of age.
Kaalkoot, the deadly poison that, according to Indian mythology Lord Shiva gulps and keeps it in his throat to save the world and so deadly is this poison that it turns his throat blue – gets a modern context when a soldier gets killed by British soldiers in the not so distant past.
Before he dies, he ensures that the deadly secret that he has discovered in the Himalayas does not fall into wrong hands.
Fast forward to the present Steve Watson, who is well versed with the mountainous terrain chances upon a secret, and he is in touch with Professor Bani, another scientist, who is on a sure path of a discovery of his own.
A dashing young woman secret service agent Damini along with her team are parallelly on watch as they notice unusual activity and suspicious foreigners seen around just before a huge science conference in Mumbai, and often word 'Demo' keeps cropping up in the narrative.
A banker Sam gets involved in the happenings while he is searching for his girlfriend Ananya, who goes missing.
Their paths meet as they move along to stop the common enemy and stop the misuse of the deadliest poison that can wipe out the world.
Venkatesh weaves the tight plot with characters entering and exiting at the right moments, keeping up the pace of the story and the grip on suspense intact.
One of the main challenges of writing a thriller is to maintain the interest of the reader and make him turn the page.
The author's success with 'Kaalkoot' lies in the fact that he ended up with a page-turner having the right dose of intrigue and nail-biting moments; just the right amount to keep the reader interested; from beginning to the end.
On the flip side, one tends to get mixed up as the narrative can overwhelm you at places.
A bit of going back and forth took care of it for this reviewer.