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Indian Fiction - THE HUNT FOR KOHINOOR by Manreet Sodhi Someshwar

I enjoyed this Indian spy thriller by Manreet Singh Someshwar.  Anyone who understands the political situation in south Asia would enjoy this.  The Indian Premier and the Pakistani leader  are about to meet at a secret location when the Pak leader is blown to smithereens.  As his briefcase, containing top secret documents, is incinerated along with him, it becomes imperative to find copies of those documents.  Enter Raghav and Mehrunisa, two capable intelligence gatherers.  He’s a member of the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) of the Indian Foreign Ministry and she’s an art historian of mixed Iranian and Indian parentage, the daughter of an old RAW hand.  She wants to spend time with her long lost father (did I mention he’s been missing for years? No?) but before she can, she must do RAW’s bidding and find those documents, preferably yesterday.  As she negotiates Pakistani terrain with Taliban terror yapping at her heels, you heart will be in your mouth.  She’s quite the princess, our Mehrun.  No furtive lovemaking holds up the action, no time wasting sentimental balderdash.  Not that there’s no love interest.  There is, to be honest, but it comes a distant second to finding those freaking documents.  Which is perfectly as it should be.   That’s reason enough to give this capable author the full five stars.  This story follows a tight timeline.  The action never flags, nor sags.  There’s even a hint of humour here and there, although the story is pretty damn serious.

The conclusion will give the reader satisfaction, although you’ll have to work for it.  If I had just one nitpick, it’s the fact that while I know nothing of the way RAW works, I simply can’t see them  ordering one of their operative’s children to go on an assignment.  I would presume, as I’m sure many others would,  that RAW would be a bit more professional in recruitment  of its agents.  Okay so Mehrunisa is a history boffin, but like, so what?  She was a civilian, never  mind the fact that her father was the Indian James Bond.  So, in a way, it was a little hard for me to suspend my disbelief and just let go with the story.  But eventually I did, because the story was absolutely compulsive.

There’s room for a sequel here.  These characters, Mehrunisa, her father and R.P. Singh, the love interest of Mehrunisa, will stay with me for  a long time and the vision of Mehrun’s turquoise pashmina shawl will be anchored in my memory. 

A great read.  Definitely paisa vasool, as we say in India.  

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