(Fiction/Thriller – INR 445/-)
It isn’t often that you encounter people creating hurricanes. Even altering and disintegrating them at will! However, author Mangesh Jadhav in his rather sci-fi thriller ‘The Ordeal’, succeeds not only in envisaging the technology but also analyzing it from every quarter. With such a heavy weight technology come several risks, a major one being that of espionage. The Ordeal explores the journey of protagonist Michael Jones, an intelligence agent who has been assigned the task of safeguarding the newest American tech-wonder from the ploy of the Russians.
The protagonist is interesting in the way he has been layered. His girlfriend adores him; he is sincere and dedicated – the caricatured, tough intelligence guy. The women on their part also hold interest. We meet Nina, the well paid scientist who cannot contain her greed. She manages to spend hours in front of a mirror and order three course meals even when there are people lurking in the shadows. A plus to Jadhav’s style: though there are a host of people among the pages, the reader is never lost. Whether it is due to the ‘neat’, double-spaced writing or the clarity of motives they all arrive with, the reader stands to gain.
Right from the word go, ‘The Ordeal’ is a thriller. Less in terms of plot twists and turns and more in terms of the writing. The text is crisp and precise, always to the point. There is never a digression and you always have the facts and figures right to the last shred: the meals people ordered at restaurants, how someone did his hair, the way a certain room looked. Jadhav has a thing for consistency. And he lives up to it very well, even when the tale travels around the world.
But in a queer too-much-of-a-good-thing way, this consistency jars at points. You wish there were a few premises left unexplained, or a few moments which leave your mouth jutting open. The meticulous handling of almost everything reads a tad repetitive and lends an excessively linear flavour to the narrative. There isn’t much that shocks, even surprises. While the ‘cold’, detached treatment is vintage sci-fi, a sprinkling of more underlining wouldn’t have harmed. That, combined with the niche-audience this genre gets, works against the book. In India especially, with its ever-expanding chick lit audience, there aren’t many who pick up a thick book with revolvers on the cover.
‘The Ordeal’ tries hard to remain logical and manages to, at several junctures. The imagination is vivid; the reading quite captivating. If you are in the mood for a thriller – by an Indian author for a change – this can be an interesting, if experimental, read.
* The author – Mangesh Jadhav – sent along a complimentary copy. Unlike the book title, my experience of reading was very enjoyable. 🙂
I wish him the very best for all his future endeavours.