4 out of 4 stars
Share This Review
Desert Hunt by K.S.R Menon is a book that can be loosely categorized in the espionage thriller genre. Set in Dubai, the story starts with a top Hamas leader acting as a middleman in a clandestine nuclear deal, for his own reasons. His assassination brings to light a bigger and more sinister terror plot to secure a suitcase nuke design for the Al Qaeda. Intelligence agencies spanning across four nations: the USA, the UAE (Dubai), India and Israel, come together to solve this puzzle involving multiple plots and players. Will they uncover the conspiracy and prevent the Al Qaeda from laying its hands on the dangerous weapon before its too late?
The author’s wide journalistic experience lends a high degree of credibility to this novel, which I felt was its best aspect. The novel provides a fascinating description of how intelligence agencies function, distinct from the stereotypical ‘James bond’ kind of spy fiction. All the characters are believable; in fact some might be modeled on certain real personalities, and most of situations are not just realistic but frightening possible. The story is narrated from the viewpoint of several characters, which covers the plot line from different angles. The novel takes the reader to diverse scenarios ranging from war-ravaged Iraq to terrorist dominated Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Through it’s well-rounded characters, the novel relays the perspectives, and sometimes peculiarities, of people of different nationalities, for example, the extremely inquisitive nature of South Asian people, or how they criticize Americans and at the same time want their kids to study in the best American universities. On a serious note, there is an element of sensitivity and fairness in the characterization, for instance, the author contrasts a Pakistani ex-military official who is trying to sell the nuclear weapon design, with a sailor, also from Pakistan, who is doing everything in his power to aid the Dubai Intelligence, even putting his family at risk when they’re quite literally in the shadow of the Taliban, in Waziristan.
Coming back to the plot, describing it as fast paced and full of suspense will seem pretty cliché. The author cleverly captures the intricate balance of international equations and dynamic existing between nations, for example, how India balances its relations with both Israel and Palestine, and without giving away any details; I have to say that it was quite astute. Ordinarily, a plot involving so many characters and twists should have been complex, but the smooth and vivid writing style, and superb editing makes it very easy to follow the storyline.
This book is meticulously detailed, yet it is a tight suspense where no words have been wasted on unnecessary additions. The only criticism I can think of is, that there are hardly any pivotal female characters, but that isn’t enough to begrudge this novel the 4 out of 4 stars it deserves. Readers who enjoy intelligent and realistic political crime thrillers will enjoy this one.
View: on Bookshelves
Like debo9967's review? Post a comment saying so!