Author : Satyarth Nayak
Publisher : Amaryllis
The book begins with Om Patnaik, an author who has penned down numerous bestsellers containing scholarly stuff and is one of the most revered authors of the country. He has a bizarre fixation with number 9 and the reason behind it is explained in detail in the early part of the book. Ram Mathur, friend of Om Patnaik and a scholar himself is murdered on the ghats of Ganga. Ram, who is in Lucknow at that point of time is called on by Sia Mathur, daughter of Ram and is asked to be there at the murder site.
Inspector Parag Suri is investigating this case and names the murderer The Scorpion. The Scorpion is one a leash and is killing people across the country.As the story progresses, Om & Sia connect the dots left by Ram Mathur to resolve his murder mystery and while they are at it, they come very close to uncovering an ancient enigma that is so powerful that even Gods would kill for it.
I must admit the book has such an uncanny resemblance to last year's Ashwin Sanghi's 'The Krishna Key', a book i was not too fond of despite its commercial success. A murder mystery to be followed, a trail of mythology clues, the suspecting main protagonist, a serial killer on the loose and a back story involving the mythological/historical characters. Problem is here, the back story interspersed within the chapters (where the main narrative happens) rarely catches your attention. Drawback in Krishna Key was that the story of Krishna was just too familiar, here the material is obtuse, dense and does not provides a logical interconnections with the main narrative. In the end, these portions act as sore thumb in an otherwise taut thriller.
Nayak builds the pace with the solving of trailing clues and as a reader, you are engrossed once the clues keep opening up. The writer keeps a tight leash on its characters, furiously explaining the logic behind each clue and the background on each of it. The editing is water tight and it helps that the author does not over do the explaining of mythological references. Bouncing off an impressive cover, there is not too much time building up characters but straight away you are thrown right in the center of the murder. It grows on you as the pages progress and is saved by a climax which is surprising yet particularly believable. It also helps that writer ties up most ends to avoid any logical fallacies usually associated with such thrillers.
I am going with 3/5 for Satyarth Nayak's 'The Emperors Riddles'. Barring those portions of mythological references, it's a taut book most suitable for mythological fans. A quick weekend read, go for it.
"This review is a part of The Readers Cosmos Book Review. For details log on to thereaderscosmos.blogspot.com"