Mukul Deva has lived, breathed and slept the ‘Lashkar’ series for the last couple of years. Whether it was ‘Lashkar’, ‘Salim Must Die’, ‘Blowback’ or ‘Tanzeem’, Mukul put his heart and soul into ensuring that these books were loved by his audiences. So what next after this?

‘The Dust Will Never Settle’ is his first book after the Lashkar series ended. In this pacy fusion of fact and fiction, he unravels the private tragedy of the Gill family against the high-stakes backdrop of international politics and deadly intrigue.

The blurb goes like this:

When terror strikes Jerusalem again, the international community persuades the Israelis and the Palestinians to resume their long-stalled peace talks. A dozen negotiators converge on Delhi to try and wrest peace for a land torn apart by centuries of strife and mistrust.

Lashkar-e-Toiba, struggling to fill the leadership void created by the killing of Osama bin Laden, will not allow these talks to proceed. Enter Ruby Gill, an MI6 agent manipulated by the Lashkar and the Qassam Bridgades to disrupt the Summit.

Caught in the crossfire is her father Ravinder Singh Gill, head of the Indian Anti – Terrorist Task Force, who is in charge of securing the Peace Summit. His work is immensely complicated by the Commonwealth Games being hosted simultaneously in Delhi.

Ravinder’s past and Ruby’s destiny are set to collide in unforeseen ways..

Will peace finally find these strife – torn countries? Or will the dust never settle in the Promised Land?

The concept is new and refreshing. The plot is captivating enough to keep you hooked throughout. As always, Mukul believes in coming straight to the point rather than talking about things which may impede the flow of the story. The book moves at a feverish pace throughout where as a reader you always want to know whether Ravinder or Ruby are one step ahead. Having covered the India – Pakistan issue in detail in the ‘Lashkar’ series, this time Mukul effortlessly weaves the Israeli – Palestinian issue into the book. Yes, the book is about high speed chases, guns and bombs going off and people dying. But one of the best things is the beautiful portrayal of the father – daughter relationship. Things do get Bollywood-esque at times, but it goes along with the story.

The book has a few downsides. Though the plot builds up quite beautifully up to the climax, I feel Mukul faltered a bit in making the climax more captivating enough. Things seem to have ended a bit abruptly. For those who may not know much about the Israeli – Palestinian issue, Mukul could have brought up that a bit more than he did.

Ravinder Singh Gill as the upright, peace loving, honest and hard working head of the Anti Terrorist Task Force is the guy responsible for protecting the Peace Summit as well as the Commonwealth Games. He ensures that not a single thing is out of place. Ruby Gill, the ex MI6 agent turned terrorist is the one who he has to stop from disrupting the Summit. At one time she is a young sweet little daughter while at another she is an avenger whose ready to kill. The split personalities portray her mind beautifully. Mohite is the officer directly under Ravinder whose tasked with helping him but instead he ends up doing more wrongs than rights. He is always trying to impress the minister Thakur so that he’s always in his good books. The rest of the characters don’t have that much to do.

All in all, this is surely a good follow up to his Lashkar series. A compelling thriller indeed.

Rating – 4/5