Book Review: Surpanakha, by Hariharan Iyer

Thrillers are wonderful to read because they have this ability to hold you from the first page to last by keeping you on the edge of your seat. Add a genre to this genre, and it sometimes dilutes that effect. Political thrillers add a drama quotient to that thrill, and if written well, bring realism to the story as well. Surpanakha uses a tension between the states of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka as its background and weaves a tale that is quite engaging.

Sesha, the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu becomes embroiled in controversy after he is accused of plotting the murder of 73 Kannadigas. The evidence against him does not feel very sure, and he finds himself acquitted. However, immediately after that case, he’s accused of sexual harassment. And the case feels stronger than the earlier one, to the extent that even his daughter begins to mistrust him. Is he innocent of this charge too?

I am not into political thrillers much, but somehow, the plot of this novel felt appealing to me when I first read it. And yes, the story does hold promise. Other than the plot, which brings that realism I spoke about earlier, what I really liked was the character sketching. In the first part of the book, the author has taken the pains to introduce the characters quite well with chapters dedicated to them. While this helped to understand the characters, it also brought down the pace of the novel for me, and didn’t feel like a thriller, though the taut narration did keep the pages turning. My favorite character was Mythili. To go all the way, supporting her husband through the ups and downs, believing in his innocence even when he was shattered when their daughter refused to believe him… I feel that Mythili’s character is the best, well-fleshed. Zarina also was intriguing, the way a perfect villain seemed to be, though in the end, we’re also shown that there can be bigger villains.

While I wouldn’t say that Surpanakha is one of my favorite reads of the year so far, it definitely isn’t a bad one. I’d have liked it if the title wasn’t justified by one line towards the end. The pace at the beginning is slow, but once it picks up after the character introductions, it flows faster. I’m happy to have read it, and my apologies to the author for a slightly delayed review.


A score of 7 out of 10
A score of 7 out of 10
Book Details
Title: Surpanakha
Author: Hariharan Iyer Genre: Political Thriller
ISBN/ASIN: 9789352065356 Publisher: Notion Press

The review is for b00k r3vi3ws Tour, which provided a copy of the book for me to read. No other payment was taken. The views expressed here are mine, and they remain uninfluenced and unbiased.


(© 27th April 2016)

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