Thursday, 9 November 2017

Book Review: The Swastika Killer by Mahendra Jakhar




Book: The Swastika Killer

Author: Mahendra Jakhar 

Pages: 497

Read on: Kindle {via my Kindle Unlimited subscription}

Read in: 6-7 hours (spread over two days)

Plot Summary: 2006, GERMANY, FIFA WORLD CUP

In Berlin, a killer begins targeting the most dangerous criminals and brands his victims with the symbol of the swastika. The day of each murder coincides mystically with the navagrahas, the days sacred to the nine planetary gods in Hindu mythology. And the dates correspond to hidden horrors of the historical past.

Only one man can decipher and look beyond symbols — the unassuming Bala, the sharpest sleuth in the Indian Intelligence Bureau.

The chase of a lifetime begins!

7/11, MUMBAI EXPLODES

Three friends who were born and grew up in the city's brothels, thrown apart by riots, are brought together by the swastika.

The killer takes them into the streets of Mumbai, to the den of underworld kings, inside prison complexes, terrorist cells and the snake pit called Bollywood.

They will need more than friendship, love, and luck to survive. Is the swastika killer a self-proclaimed vigilante, out to end evil?

To find out, and put an end to the killings, Bala will have to go to the beginning. The past that lies hidden in the streets of Old Delhi.

KILLING FIELDS

The killer moves through Afghanistan and Pakistan to target the world’s most guarded man. It will change the course of our history. Friendship will be tested with blood and death. Can Bala stop the killer? Can the blood-thirsty navagrahas be pacified?

Things I Liked: 
  • A book about a ritualistic serial killer. Say no more! Add to that some connections between Indian astrology and German war crimes from WWII. Gimme me the book now, I say!! Just gimme the book already! 
  • This book has a great build-up. The first set of murders are set in Germany during the 2006 Football World Cup. Several influential men with connections to human trafficking and prostitution are found brutally murdered and the killer seems to be able to vanish into thin air! The German police and two Indian sleuths from the Intelligence Bureau (IB) are on the case to stop an even bigger crime from happening. The chapters based in Germany and, then, Amsterdam are fast-paced and interesting. 
  • The key crime solvers are also nicely crafted. We have Bala- a senior IB officer, whose wife has Alzheimers and whose only focus is his job and stopping threats to the country.  Then there is Bala's protege, Maksud Ali, a mathematical genius, whose sharp mind tries to stay ahead of the killer. Michael, the German cop, also becomes part of the team and even travels to India at a later stage of the investigation.
  • The story weaves together discrete events in Germany, Mumbai and, finally, Afghanistan quite effortlessly. The killer seems to get away with murdering high profile people quite effortlessly, making the investigators wonder how this could possibly be happening! 
Things I Didn't Like:
  • Each crime has some connection with the navgrahas or the nine planets that make up the birth chart under Hindu astrology. However, these connections are not fully leveraged. There is some connection between the dates of the murders are brutal events of World War II in Germany, but no real connection between the significance of choosing each of the nine planet-Gods and the murders. The links are superficial and tenuous and I was expecting some richer connection between the murders and these navgrahas. 
  • The author has tried really hard to connect all kinds of evil events and people together in this book, making it span across 5 countries and multiple evil people in the process. However, all this achieves in doing is making the book much lengthier and diluting the motive of the killer. It seems like all the killer wants to do is correct wrongs in any and every part of the world! It would've been much better to focus on crimes in Germany and India. The parts of the book- the last 20% of it- set in Afghanistan and Pakistan were a drag! At this point we know the killer is and it is boring to read hundred plus pages waiting for the book to end! 
  • The author gives the killer away at the 40% mark, when he mentions where the killer is from. After that it is quite dull to read about the rest of the crimes and also the whole Bala-has-gone-mad-and-is-the-killer nonsense! 
  • The end is weird! And too convenient! 


Rating: 3.5/5 
This is an interesting book and worth a read in spite of some of its flaws. 


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