The Hunt for Kohinoor by Manreet Sodhi Someshwar: Book Review
Let us go on a clandestine journey to one of the most inhospitable terrain on earth the lawless badlands of AFPAK border where law is defined by the guy whose finger is on the trigger of Kalashnikov, and there are more Kalashnikovs in this area than were ever made by the Soviets. Go figure.
Indian thriller writing is now coming of age and The Hunt for Kohinoor is fine examples of an unapologetic, thriller that is written with the unadulterated aim of raising your hair and makes your heart skip a beat of or two. To her credit, Manreet succeeds in that with flying colors or should I say flying bullets?
Well bullets because this novel takes you to the most hostile terrain on earth, the land and people reputed to send invaders back home in coffins from the time of Alexander, to the Soviets and now the Americans. So bullets, bombs and limbs fly as you are taken to the epicenter of one of the bloodiest war in the history of mankind and what a journey it is you travel on foot, motorcycles, 4*4s and in the final assault on 4 legs!
The title of the book deftly combines the name of one of the most thrilling Hollywood movies and the most famous diamond in the history of mankind. A diamond that traces it myth right up to lord Krishna and has been with emperors like Shahjahan and Maharajah Ranjeet Singh of undivided Punjab before it was shipped to London during Raj. Today everybody from the British to the Persians, Indians, Pakistan and even the Taliban are staking a claim at Kohinoor, whose fame and beauty is only eclipsed by the curse that the diamond is believed to carry.
Anyways, The Hunt for Kohinoor is about a sinister terrorist plot that a slain Pakistani General has hidden as some kind of bargaining chip with his friends and foes, which he had in abundance.
We once again meet Mehrunisa, the girl from previous book who helped solve The Taj Conspiracy, who is tailor-made to look like a Barbie doll yet has the nerves to enter the heart of enemy nation in order to find the truth about Kohinoor. Only she is oblivious that she is just a small pawn in a much bigger game and at stake is life of millions of Indians and her own.
The story unfolds with Merhrunisa learning that her long dead father has resurfaced and for his long-term safety she needs to cooperate with RAW, whose boss is a pretty hard-boiled egg, also known as Chanakya , and is the epicenter of Indian espionage. All Mehrunisa has on her side is a secure phone and 96 hours to deliver before a massive terrorist attack is unleashed on India. Is she up to it?
The strength of Manreet’s book lies in her ability to keep the it fast paced with regular doses of adrenalin shots and complete focus on the main plot. She does not digresses even to elaborate on the love triangle that you hope would unfurl between Mehrunisa and the two spies that miss a heartbeat when they see her.
The plot does have some loopholes as far as plausibility and character building goes; but is that not what fiction is about? To write about things and make you believe that you think will never happen in real life?
Things begin to get interesting and gory once our very own superspy Harry who is also Mehrunisa’s lost father decides to take the war back to enemy territory on four legs!
I must mention here that Manreet Sodhi Someshwar has done research that is worthy of a PhD, before writing this book. She has gone into great details about the terrains, the explosives used, the game between CIA, RAW, ISI and Taliban in its various forms. You also get a few lessons in the history of the rugged Afghan people whose biggest fault is that they do not like to be ruled by outsiders be it Alexander or the British or any other imperial power. We also learn a thing or two about how a jihadi is brainwashed by cunning mullahs, and convince the young boys to blow up their bodies in exchange of 72 virgins in afterlife. All this you learn in the course of the plot as new characters are introduced to you as the story grows.
Overall “The hunt for Kohinoor”is a fast paced thriller that makes no attempts to be politically correct and Manreet is very adroit at taking real historical events put them in a blender and churn out a chutney suited to a spicy spy saga.
Let me give you once such dialogue that the Pakistani President is credited with a day before his death in political rally, “I don’t mind if my life goes in the service of the nation. If I die today , every drop of my blood with invigorate the nation.”
Well dear reader if you were growing in 80s you would remember who actually said this, if you don’t know do some research and you will find out.
If you love a good fast paced thriller that can match machinations of a Bollywood pot boiler go for “ The Hunt For Kohinoor”, I am pretty sure you will enjoy it.
Check here the trailer video of
“The Hunt For Kohinoor”
Title: The Hunt For Kohinoor
Author: Manreet Sodhi Someshwar. You can also check her site here
Publisher: Westland Ltd.
Number of pages:425
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Looks good Prasad. I did get a glimpse of real Kohinoor in the Tower of London on my first visit (out of a total of 2 so far :-)) in 1999. I have a vaguer memory of a blue big stone very securely ensconced in glass box. Later I was told by everyone that they do not show the original and so on.
And BTW, for the first time I saw a video-promotion for a book. Thank you for sharing.
Hey Nandan: I have been to London but missed seeing the Kohinoor, real or fake!.. 🙂