Category Archives: Book Reviews

Liked a book? Talk about it…

Finders, Keeper

Finders, KeepersFinders, Keepers by Sapan Saxena

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Amazing debut novel by this ‘Lucknow Boy’, making Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code appear elementary.
When I picked this novel, I was very skeptical. I had expected an amateurish book, by a young self proclaimed novelist. But the first chapter astonished me. The story starts with a bang, just like a rocket launching into space, and continues at the same pace, never giving a slower moment to the reader. This is a very exciting mix of mythology, history, science and religion. Story spread across the Indian subcontinent, reader getting a feel of visiting the places described. Crime scenes and places are so realistically described, I could recollect so many of places where I have been earlier.
The book, spanning 108 chapters (and a Sumeru too, just like a Hindu rosary), is full of riddles and cryptic clues. I enjoyed attempting unsuccessfully to solve them. All the mentions to religious texts appear authentic( I believe that are). Hindu mythology, and the conflict between Shaivyas and Vaishnavas has been very beautifully explained. It was a sort of refresher course in Hindu religious concept for me. But at some places I felt, the author was being sarcastic about the present fundamentalists habit of linking all modern scientific developments to the vedic era.The explanation about how the Ganga water remains pure indefinitely, is one such thing.
Overall a great thriller. After a long time I had to stay awake till early morning to finish the last few chapters of any novel, as I wanted to know the climax.

Great job, Sapan. Wishing you a huge successful career ahead.

View all my reviews

Finders, Keepers- What happens when one of the most powerful secrets of all times is threatened by a legend equally powerful


Cover Page-Finders, Keepers
Finders Keepers, Losers Weepers

Two men are murdered in two major towns of India, in settings, which speak volumes of involvement of some sacred cynicism. Is a psycho-killer at loose? Or is this the beginning of something much more grave and dangerous?

Troubled by the murder of two of his most trusted allies followed by two subsequent heists in Kolkata and Bikaner, the working head of National Society for Hindu Consciousness, Mrityunjai Pradhan turns towards the Intelligence Bureau of India for help in one of the most mysterious cases in their history.

Finders-Keepers is the tale of how Deputy Director, Intelligence Bureau of India, Shoumik Haldar and celebrated author Ishan Vajpayee exercise all their tools and methods of conventional and unconventional deduction to solve the puzzles thrown across by the enemy, yet unrevealed.

Intertwined intensely with the opulent mythological tales and specimens attributing to the rich cultural heritage of this country, the story depicts the resurgence of a dormant historical sect, which attacks the very foundations of one of the most powerful and secreted organizations of all times.

Spread across the length and breadth of the entire Indian sub-continent, the mystery force the duo to travel from Haridwar to Allahabad to Srikakulam to Lucknow to Bikaner to Dhauli Hills to Baramulla to Kolkata to Varanasi to Bharuch to Rishikesh to Guwahati  to Sri Lanka and Nepal.

The main characters of the novel are:

Shoumik Haldar: Born and brought up in the city of joy, Kolkata, Shoumik Haldar showed his mettle as a bright student and then as a bright officer of the Intelligence Bureau of India. Having solved some of the most complex of cases of the organization, Shoumik Haldar scaled the stairs of success at the Information Bureau of India at a very early age. Soon enough, he became the Deputy Director of the organization, the youngest Indian to achieve the position. Immensely interested in the science of deduction, he made it a way of life at an early age, and has since used it in all walks of life. When called upon the duty to serve the nation on a really mysterious yet important mission, he readily agrees without even knowing what is in store for him. How he solves the pieces of puzzle in a completely rational yet untraditional methods of deduction solves the rest of the story

Ishan Vajpayee: Not much is documented in national news about the initial days of Ishan Vajpayee. Best Selling author of Indian history and mythology, Ishan has an immediate connect with his readers and listeners alike. Having let go of a prominent career option, Ishan decided to dedicate his life to the cause of learning more about the culture and the history of the country. Deciphering the signs and symbols of ancient Indian history and mythology, his thoughts never fail to strike a chord with the audience. He is on a campaign trail for his latest book on Indian history when he is called upon by Shoumik Haldar seeking his help on a very important and urgent assignment of national importance. Though reluctant at first, he agrees to be a part of the case once he sees the photographs of the murders

Mrityunjai Pradhan : Current head of the National Society for Hindu Consciousness, Mrityunjai Pradhan started out as a teacher at the Punjab University. Soon enough, having earned the respect and love of students and peers alike, he became a friend, philosopher and guide to all his students and followers alike. He shifted his base to Haridwar on being made the head of the National Society for Hindu Consciousness, the very headquarters of the organization. Termed Intellectual Rockstar by his colleagues and students, Mrityunjai Pradhan is the face of new-age modern philosophers and Gurus. Living in Haridwar, he holds conferences all round the globe on invitations.

Markandey Trivedi: Once a very simple and honest man, has rose to something much bigger and better in his own eyes. But, is it the right path?


About the author-

 Brought up in the city of Nawabs, Lucknow, Sapan did B. Tech in Information & Technology from Motilal Nehru National Institute of Technology, Allahabad. He started taking interest in writing on various spiritual and mythological subjects during his college days and his work found place in leading newspapers on many occasions. His profession is engineering but writing is his passion. He connects and finds links of modernization with mythology having keen interest in the same.

Sapan married in the year 2011 and is now the proud father of a toddler. A responsible father, a loving husband, a supportive brother and a caring son, Sapan generates time to write.

The present book is a fictional work, a perfect blend of riddles with history and mythology, and is full of suspense till the last page.


Lucknow Boy – A Memoir

Lucknow Boy CoverFor somebody coming from Lucknow, the title of Vinod Mehta’s book in question is itself quite appealing. ‘Lucknow Boy – A Memoir’ by the veteran journalist is an honest account of his rather adventurous life.

The book traces Mehta’s journey from a school going boy in the city to an editor of repute in Bombay and Delhi. His lack of experience in the trade makes his story all the more more fascinating. It also throws light on the way journalism works in India or elsewhere.

The author’s father was transferred to Lucknow five years after his birth in Rawalpindi. Here he attended the reputed La Martiniere College. The city had a big impression on him. It was also here that Mehta made a few life long friends.

His account of Lucknow of the 50s and 60s is lively, more so for the person he was and the people he befriended. From ‘a small time raja’, C.P.N. Singh, to the ‘quintessential aam admi of the 50s’, Safdar, his acquaintances are a good reflection of the interesting times he spent in Lucknow. He also credits the city for teaching him ‘to look at the individual rather than his religion or caste or the tongue he spoke’. You can’t help admiring his secular credentials.

On an old friend’s insistence Mehta went to England in the early 70s. This was also the time when his life long affair (not to mention his other flings) with news and books started as he survived on odd jobs. It would serve him well during the years in Bombay and Delhi, when he slowly and surely establishes himself as an editor of some repute.

Mehta’s editorial ventures, be it Debonair, The Pioneer or Outlook, offer an interesting perspective on media functioning. All is not rosy, but if one is better prepared then he’ll survive seems to be the advice of the book. He shares quite a few incidents about the nexus between the politicians, businessmen, and journalists.

Journalism, Mehta acknowledges, is a high pressure job that involves both glamour and risk. The risks increase as you climb up the ladder, so much that sometimes ‘the professional environment you function in is so vitiated and underhand that you are tempted to throw in the towel’.

It’s the ego which journalists needs to check, advices Mehta. The basic premise is to create awareness about relevant issues. Journalists have to remember that all they have is ‘the best seats in the match’. They don’t run the country in any way.

Mehta’s candid observations on certain subjects and people do not go down rather well with me. I particularly find the reference to Firaq Gorakhpuri’s homosexuality quite disgusting. The talk about Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s ‘strange domestic life’ was also uncalled for. There’s also an air of pompousness about the work he did. But you forgive him for this as he pokes fun at himself with equal measure.

His book may not go down as a literary masterpiece, but certainly as one written with brutal honesty. I’m sure he won’t have many friends left after this one. Overall the book offers an interesting commentary on the way news travels through the pages and the players involved.

The City’s Jewish Author in Search of Love and Identity!

by Dr.Navras Jaat Aafreedi

Sheila Rohekar is precious because she is the only Jewish writer in the Hindi language. Recipient of the prestigious Yashpal Award for her maiden novel Dinānt (1977), Sheila tells the story of a woman’s search for her identity and love in life. About to publish her third novel, Sheila tackles Jewish life in India. It never occurred to her before that the Jewish society in India would interest people hardly aware ofJews who have been present in their midst for more than two millennia. Born in Pune in 1942 in the Bene Israel community, numerically the largest of the three Jewish communities in India, Rohekar began her literary career in 1968 with the publication of a Hindi story in Dharmayug and a collection of Gujarati short-stories, Lifeline nee Bāhār. Her first Hindi novel, Dinānt (1977), was followed by her second novel, Tavīz, in 2005. It is the story of the developments that take place once Révā, a Hindu woman, marries Anvar, a Muslim. Afew years after Anvar’s murder during the communal riots, Reva remarries. Her son from Anvar, Annu, conscious of his mixed parentage, finds acceptance and solace in a radical Hindu activist group as a college student.However, he succumbs to the police bullet he receives while participating in the Ram Jańmbhūmi agitation. During the preparations for his final rites according to the Hindu norms when it is discovered that he was circumcised, his mother is immediately killed by the radicals to avoid complications.