Brutal, the maiden book by Uday Satpathy promises to be a thriller but has a lot more complicated plot that one would expect.
Brutal gets you interested right at the beginning -- a teacher, without any history of violence, murders his students in cold-blood . It becomes a high-profile case and the accused is killed by an ex-defence personnel now working with a seemingly-underground organisation.
Two reporters, both with a troubled past and personal baggage, try to find the logic behind the almost-clinical murder of the teacher. This is where the mystery begins.
What follows is a diversion of narratives, where both journo protagonists -- Seema and Prakash -- working for different media groups, attempt to uncover the mystery.
A supposedly simple mystery of a man ruthlessly killing children opens a Pandora’s box of similar incidents, prompting the journalists to dig deeper, often almost landing into their own graves.
The narrative eventually snowballs into a chase with a plethora of nasty villains and twists, where the protagonists fall into exquisitely-planned traps, almost as if the enemy knows exactly what path the journalists are going to follow.
The dots align when Seema and Prakash’s individual discoveries culminate into a larger conspiracy -- one full of assassins, familial power-politics and even international relations.
The author has not shied away from addressing even the Israel-Iran conflict, apart from citing real-life instances and connecting them to the plot, including infamous intelligence agencies like Mossad and RAW.
Brutal eventually turns out to be a medical-thriller, reminiscent of the likes of a Robin Cook novel, only less detailed and more political in nature.
All of it comes down to one organisation that finally makes the one mistake that becomes its ‘Achilles’ heel’, and lets the dominoes tumble.
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The plot is mostly interesting and the pace is good enough, not devoid of its moments of horror -- corpses in cages, a crazy scientist with dangerous creations and of course, dingy warehouses; but it could do without the clichéd dialogues.
Nonetheless, Brutal is one of the finer thrillers written by an Indian author and makes for a good one-time read.
The author tweets as @prernamadan1794