Indian writers and thrillers are rather far apart, and therefore one can be forgiven for approaching this book with some scepticism, since it has been billed a thriller. A former office of the Sikh Light Infantry, NDA alumnus Mukul Deva digs from within his experience in the armed forces to come up with a book titled RIP, or Resurgent Indian Patriots.
The central character of the book is the protagonist Colonel Krishna Athavale. The Colonel and his team of Special Forces Officers – known as the K-Team, since their names all begin with the letter K – are a set of vigilantes calling themselves RIP. The RIP wants to protect the country against rampant corruption prevalent in the system. To this end, they are willing to do anything, including kill politicians, judges and government officials who are perpetrators of scams, having siphoned off many crores of rupees. There is also the copybook antagonist in the form of Raghav Bhagat, who is also a former armed forces operative, mired in scandal himself and who has been hired by corrupt politicians to hunt out the RIP.
The beginning of the book has many characters drawn from real life incidents and scams, with just their names altered. There are also mentions of real scams like the Bofors and the 2G spectrum scam. It is not very difficult to draw a parallel to the real life people and one wishes the author had used his imagination to come up with some different situations instead of pulling them out of newspaper reports. But, barring that small flaw, the book is rather racy and keeps the reader quite on the edge.
The assassinations are carried out by the RIP with detailed planning, given that they are all trained Special Forces men, to arm twist the establishment and get the Lokpal bill passed in the parliament. The scared, scam-tainted Home Minister and his cronies engage their own special operative – former SPG Raghav Bhagat – who is a conscience-less mercenary and has his own axe to grind with Athavale. The State Police Force is also on their heels, trying to nose out the assassins. It turns out to be quite a cat and mouse chase, even as the RIP continue to evade everybody and continue on their killing spree, hitting quite high up in the political hierarchy.
Interspersed in the plot is a love story between Athavale and a television news anchor Reena Bhagat, the separated wife of antagonist Raghav, a rather sweet and sentimental addition to the story. Between the action and the love story, the readers are drawn quite well into the book. The story is also well thought out, considering the author’s knowledge of the inner workings of the security forces and the SPG that provides protection to politicians, the details are spelt out meticulously.
Given that corruption is a household issue in the country right now, this plot will strike a chord with most readers. One may not agree with the way justice is dispensed by the RIP, but it will still find you rooting for them, against the state police force and the establishment. Overall, a rather simple but well-paced read that will have you decide that Indian writers are not bad with thrillers after all!