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Tracing terror

SRAVASTI DATTA
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Chat Prem Rao’s second novel, Lucky For Some 13, is yet another thriller set in contemporary India

INSPIREDBy the military history his school was steeped inPhoto: Murali Kumar k.
INSPIREDBy the military history his school was steeped inPhoto: Murali Kumar k.

At the launch of his second novel Lucky For Some 13, Prem Rao put forth these disclaimers: “It is a fictional thriller; I pray that events in this book never happen; I wish we learn from our mistakes and this book is a small token of respect for the men of National Security Guard (NSG).”

Lucky For Some 13 , published two years after Rao’s debut novel It Can’t Be You , revolves around terrorism and weaves in multiple fast-paced, suspense-filled scenes that occur in Goa and Bangalore. Rao says that thriller aficionados and those who like plot construction will “like piecing together the clues”.

After reading an excerpt from his book at Reliance Time Out, Rao spoke of how writer and criminologist Jennifer Chase in a letter wrote: “It is a nail biting suspense with plenty of action.”

Rao says that though the book is a work of fiction, it raises some questions in the mind of the readers: “Do we really know who the enemy is? How do we deal with extremism that transcends national boundaries? And how do we change the perception of India being a soft power?”

Some of the characters in the book are reminiscent of people we know. The main characters of the book are women — Major Mohini Nair who works for NSG, and Alice Hatchman, one of the terrorists. “Alice, for example, is based on Daood Sayed Gilani.” One wonders if the book provides answers to what motivates a person to become a terrorist? Rao says there is no single explanation. “Many people become terrorists because of a lack of education, but what about educated people taking to terrorism?” Rao adds that that women’s role in society is beginning to change. The Director General of NSG recently announced the first team of women officers.

Rao’s fascination for thrillers developed when he was in school. “My alma mater Lawrence School, Lovedale is steeped in military history. This helped me nurture an interest in the security forces that has been sustained for many years.”

Crime fiction is an emerging genre in Indian writing in English. Rao says there are fewer detective writers as schools encourage only a literary style of writing. Before leaving, Rao says: “In 2011, It Can’t be You at one time was ranked 33 among 17,400 titles under suspense in Flipkart. My name appeared along with Ruskin Bond, John Grisham and Robin Cook under the suspense and thriller category. This makes my day and my life.”

Lucky For Some 13 has been published by Mahaveer Publishers and is priced at Rs. 150.

SRAVASTI DATTA

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