It is always refreshing to read a thriller that grips your attention from the word go and sustain the excitement till the last word. The Shrine of Death by Divya Kumar takes us into a murky world of idol theft. The reason I chose this book is the hope of reliving the experience of ‘Kailashe Kelenkari (a story in the Feluda series by Satyajit Ray, which also deals with the theft of a priceless artefact from the Rajarajeshwari Temple, and an international smuggling racket).
Prabha Sinha, an IT professional in Chennai, is drawn into the investigation of the mysterious disappearance of her friend Sneha Pillai. I have always loved the prospect of a female investigator and this book delivered it with élan. As Prabha delves more and more into Sneha’s life, she is sucked into a maze of deceit, betrayal and illegalities. She has Jai Vadehra, who comes with his own baggage of a tragic past, to help her solve this mystery, along with DSP Gerard Ratnaraj of CID’s Idol Wing.
Since the book deals with idol theft, there are temples involved, dating back to the days of the Chola Kingdom. As a reader, I was longing to read more about the history of these times, but the author chose to stead clear of that track. After all, this book is a historical thriller, and one expects a dose or two of history, even if not a detailed thesis as one would encounter in a Dan Brown novel.
Instead, there is a subplot involving a romantic angle between Prabha and the DSP. The scenes have been written daftly, communicating the sexual attraction to the readers, without delving into eroticism. Talking about writing, the pace of the story keeps you riveted to the plot. Despite a lot of characters, the reader is allowed to keep focus on the main plot involving Sneha and the idols. While the writing is crisp, the language often borders on the casual.
India is a land of varied cultures and diverse traditions. No wonder many authors these days choose the historical/mythological fiction genre of writing. The Shrine of Death is a good first attempt by Divya Kumar. Will look forward to reading more of her works in the future.
My Rating: 3/5 stars
P.S. This review is part of the Flipkart Bloggers’ Affiliate Programme
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