Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Kim's Review: It Can't Be You - A Spiral of Vengeance

Prem Rao is an Alumnus from my college - XLRI. After 36 years as a Management Professional, he entered the NaNoWriMo and 'It Can't be You' is the first fruit of that challenge.

Retired Colonel Belliappa is found dead in his room in his Roseneath Estate on 23 December 2000. His second wife - Elena (a German who is also his partner in his successful armaments firm), his daughter Shefali (a successful professional and impressive shot, with a questionable boyfriend whom she wants to marry) and his son Pritam (a creative type like his mother, hooked on drugs) are in the house befcause the Colonel wanted them there for Christmas and New Years. Bahadur who saved his life during the war and attached himself to the Colonel forever after is the only other person on the premises, or was there anyone else?

The story is told via 4 first person accounts: the Colonel, Elena, Shefali & Pritam. It would have been interesting to also hear the whole story of the Colonel's first wife, mother of his children - Dinaz Dastoor in her own voice. So while we can piece together her story from the other accounts, how much of it is clouded by jealousy, childlike innocence or post-demise deification?

Is the Colonel a psychopath? Is he a traitor to his country - selling sensitive information to his armaments clients? Are his wives unfaithful? Does he know? Were his tactics for stemming terrorism the answer to our current cross border problems?

So many questions, some of them are answered and some answers are only hinted at.

It was quite a good read. I finished it in 2 sittings. There is obviously a lot of research into Indian military history that has gone into this book. Most of these wars were before my time and while I was aware of bits and pieces, the flow in the book was logical and linear and hence a condensed history lesson too.

This book is on quite a few bestsellers lists and its a quick easy read. The ending was unexpected, but not improbable.

Rating: 3/5

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