‘Thar Express’ is an e-book by Nagendra Murti about a man who has lost his memory and the way he goes about remembering his past under the care of a good doctor. Does the book work? Let’s check it out.
The blurb goes like this –
Am I dead? Is this how it feels to be dead……?
Thar Express tells the story of a man who is rescued from the aftermath of a landslide near the India-Pakistan Line of Control. He is barely alive and appears to have no memory of his identity, his past or the circumstances that led him to a remote and sensitive part of the country that he was rescued from. After initially being cared for in an army hospital, he is sent to a doctor who specializes in treating those afflicted by memory loss.
Under the unconventional but effective care of this doctor, he begins to remember tiny fragments of his past and sets off on a journey of re-discovering himself that leads him across seven different states and brings him in contact with people who wittingly or unwittingly help him along in this journey.
The army intelligence, initially suspicious of his antecedents and intent but with no hard facts to act on, stumbles across information that pushes them beyond suspicion. They launch a relentless manhunt to re-capture what they now consider to be a dangerous insurgent. Will the authorities’ worst fears come true or are they just chasing an illusion? The story takes the reader through twists and turns, introduces characters who represent the eccentric mixture of mirth and cynicism that is twenty-first century India and unfolds the unexpected ending.
First things first, the book has an interesting cover page and a catchy title which would leave you expecting more. Since there’s no paperback version though, you have to make do with the e-book version and check it out through your Kindles’ or other e-book readers.
The concept and the overall storyline is quite gripping from the outset. A man found amidst the rubble and disaster caused by a landslide at the Indo-Pakistan border (Line of Control) who has lost his memory and doesn’t remember a thing. Imagine yourself in a situation like that. It gets quite scary, doesn’t it? If losing one’s memory wasn’t problematic enough, the fact that the armies of both the nations would be behind your life would be even scarier.
The protagonist’s journey to discover his real identity and the real him takes him across many states and cities like Trichy, Hyderabad, Goa, Odisha and the likes. Different people help him in different ways slowly helping him understand and discover his real background. The trials and tribulations that he faces in tackling the army, the anti-terrorist squads and also trying to discover himself are beautifully depicted throughout the book.
The book is pretty pacy as Nagendra has kept the readers interested by not forcing too many needless sequences which may have acted as obstacles. Though it’s his debut novel, he has beautifully captured the struggles of the protagonist so much so that you start feeling for him imagining yourself in such a situation.
The only downside is the fact that the novel has ONLY an e-book version. And moreover, the cost is Rs 181 as per Amazon India. I am not too sure if readers in India are ready for an ONLY e-book kind of novel yet. Being an ONLY e-book novel, it would also require a lot of word of mouth to succeed.
All in all, this one is a good read if you are up for a slightly unconventional mystery thriller.
Rating – 4/5
Linking to NaBloPoMo (National Blog Post Month – February – My post no 3 for this month.