Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn't.
These words by Mark Twain ring true every time I happen to catch a glimpse of any television serial that recreates real life crimes. When I came across Mayur’s ‘The Dark Road’, I picked it up with the expectation that it would follow the predictable pattern of a fiction novel. However, he has actually pleasantly surprised me with a plot that clings to the strangeness of reality with the perfection of well-rounded fiction.
The protagonist ACP Prasanna (Retd.) is a treat to know. The way her mind functions, the way she deals with her daughter, her friends as well as the ‘males’ in the story, makes her extremely endearing. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that a major reason the book stays interesting is because of the personality of its chief protagonist. Readers who may be familiar with other private detectives will find Prasanna to be a perfect modern blend of characters like Perry Mason and Miss Marple.
The other more obvious reason for my appreciation of the book is of course the frequent twists in the story. The fast pace and appropriately placed twists make ‘The Dark Road’ a worthy example of the crime thriller genre. The multiple stakeholders from the police fraternity, to the misguided youth with strong anti-establishment agenda, to the troubled young girl who is the murder victim, to the interesting relationship between Siddhu and his man Friday Sharman, all keep you guessing till the end.
A big plus also for bringing out the hypocrisy of both the society as well as the politicians – the first comes out in the dealings of the murder victim’s family and the second in the way the youth of today are brainwashed into opposing all development in the name of safeguarding people’s rights. The way one of the characters called Kunal walks through his life, creating a mess of everything around him, is a sad yet true commentary on our present times where social media, instead of bringing us together, has actually helped people with differing ideologies to drive the wedge further in the minds of the gullible.
When you are done with the book, you are simultaneously left with two things – one, the satisfaction at reading a well written crime thriller and the second, empathy for children growing up in broken homes as well as those who get swayed by political rhetoric. While the first is definitely desirable for anyone who picks up a good with the intention to enjoy a thriller, the second puts you into deep thought and makes you wonder whether the direction our society is taking is the correct one.
I would like to wrap up by congratulating Mayur once again for a fabulous read with the hope that he shall keep churning out more books in this genre. For readers who haven’t read him before, go ahead and pick up the book! You will surely not be disappointed.
You can buy the book here: https://www.juggernaut.in/books/657f2054995249e48c8a753040e01fb7