About The Author: Durgesh Shastri is a Computer Networks Engineer currently working as an Assistant Professor in GNDEC, Bidar. A social worker, his NGO is actively involved in spreading computer and social awareness in rural areas. His first book, 12 strokes of life, has been critically acclaimed by many professional reviewers and readers alike while his short stories have featured in 5 anthologies in 2014 alone. He also has a poem to his credit, published in an international poetry book when cupid struck its arrow, which was reviewed by the famous Indian actor, Aamir Khan. An alumnus of the prestigious PES university and RV college of engineering, Bangalore, Durgesh has always been a voracious reader and the works of Sidney Sheldon and Jeffrey Archer have motivated him as a writer. He has reviewed several books online and continues to try his hand at creative writing during his spare time.
Synopsis: History bears testimony to the fact that the jet black Bidriware statues have mesmerized people from all around the world. Aaradhya, an engineering graduate, finds herself in the middle of a deadly mental storm when she realizes that a Bidriware statue has turned into a nightmare for her and is giving her sleepless nights. She begins her quest to unravel the truth and undertakes a journey full of thrill, deceit and betrayal. Things take a dramatic turn when she discovers that her mission has turned suicidal and could ruin her future and destroy her family. The situations take her through a roller coaster ride through several monuments like the Bidar Fort, Jharni Narsimha, the Gurudwara and the Charminar area of Hyderabad to name a few. The answer to her questions lies in a secret hidden by her father…A secret that can shatter several lives and curse those who commit crimes in the city of the Red Soil.
My Review: Thriller, mystery and suspense are my favourite genre and I was thrilled when this contest was announced but I was a bit hesitant to pick up the book and decided to give a miss to this contest, because I thought how would a story set in Bidar (which is less than 150Kms from my city, Hyderabad) be? Is it worth a read or will it be another time pass book? 3days back I remembered about the contest and found it to be still open. I googled the book, the cover of it resembled the front page of a newspaper (The Times of Hindustan) and the title was just like a breaking news headline. I did not read any reviews about the story as I did not want my inquisitiveness to get dampened and ordered my copy from Amazon immediately. From the evening of Sunday the 19th to the afternoon of Monday the 20th the book kept me occupied.
Congratulations to Mr. Shastri for debuting in literary world with such a nice book. The story embarked with the protagonist Aaradhya and her friend Suhasini returning to their hometown Bidar in Karnataka after completing their Engineering in Bangalore. Here we are introduced to characters – Sachit (the person with whom Aaradhya is in love with) and Ritesh (Sachit’s best friend). Aaradhya has been disturbed from the past 4years with a reoccurring dream about her maid Manorama who has gone missing since 2009. The nightmare disturbs her badly that she sets on a charge to find out about her maid. She comes to know about her father the famous businessman Vaikunth Patil’s affair with the maid Manorama that led to him killing her gruesomely. This puts Aaradhya into an emotional turmoil. Sachit and Ritesh join her at Bidar, in the quest during which love between Sachit and Aaradhya strengthens and both the guys get trapped in a false case of drugs and prostitution which lands them in the jail. While probing into the murder case of Manorama, she comes to know about her father’s smuggling business of antiques out of Bidar museum to his international clients via their Hyderabad showrooms. During this journey Aaradhya’s love, trust, friendship, future, past and present all are put in risk. The rival is terrifying and unseen, how will Aaradhya expose the hideous truth and bare the mask from enemy’s face? Who will come out as a champ and who will be defeated in the game of intelligence? All this makes up for the rest of the story.
The story is an absolute thriller with combination of action and adventure which remains on the hit of the reader. There are few close moments in the book which made me feel that picking up this book was a good thing I did. All appreciation to the author, for writing flashbacks and the account of preceding scenes in views of the character. It did cope to uphold exhilaration in the tale. On the same side, author’s depiction about Bidar’s history, geography, archaeological sites, city life, the monuments and mention of the local and nearby places created such connection that I felt I was physically present in Bidar and all this was happening in front of me . I liked the surprise element in the story, the email Aaradhya writes to Sachit (The Vow).
In the overflow of boring romantic novels with social networking background currently in the market, Curse of the Red Soil is revitalizing read. The book has its flaws – a few spelling mistakes and grammatical errors, the editor or the proof reader should have been more attentive while reading the manuscript, the quality of the paper used by publisher/printer could have been better, in the face of usage of English being very easy to understand in some places the author wrote in a primary school level which did not go well with the narration. Keeping in mind the fact that this is author’s debut book I would advise him (I, being a writer/blogger and editor myself) to be more considerate on these above flaws so that he can avoid them in his next book. Above all, I enjoyed reading the book which proved to be a fast tempo thriller with great narration.
This review is an entry to #CurseOfTheRedSoilContest on The Tales Pensieve.
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