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RACY PROSE, FINE POETRY

Monday, April 22, 2013
By Robin Shukla

Two excellent books being reviewed this week. The Hit, a fast-paced book tackling internal intrigue by international bestselling author, David Baldacci, looks at a scenario when special intelligence agents are ranged against each other in a kill-or-be-killed situation. Pastpresent by Amruta Dongray is a collection of very beautifully imagined poems, with a tremendous sense of integrity. 

When the sinister enemy is from within
The Hit by David Baldacci is a book with as hard an impact as this author has been delivering, only harder this time.  It starts with a very gripping drama, a meticulously planned hit to take out a Middle Eastern megalomaniac is underway, the sniper snugly positioned in a very vantage spot, his adviser monitoring and handling the entire operation from thousands of miles away inside a nondescript office space in Washington DC. The US wants the fanatic neutralised because it is part of the unofficial agenda to neutralise such elements from various regions around the globe. Ferat Ahmadi ‘desired to lead a troubled, violent nation down an even darker road. That could not be allowed to happen.’

The handler is engrossed in orchestrating the hit from his computer, eyes fixed on the screen, ensconced in probably the safest spot in the US, where ‘a heavy-gauge steel gate out front with a high fence around the perimeter of the property. Armed sentries patrolled the interior halls and surveillance cameras monitored the exterior.’

All the risk is out there, where the shooter has his scope trained on the target, with death by hanging or beheading as the award for bungling or getting caught, but in a sudden turn of events, the window to that highly secured space shatters, with a round entering the experts back, clearing his body and thundering out of his chest, only to end up cracking the computer screen, where death was already all laid out, but for someone else. This is a scary scenario, in the most secret of circles, someone most trusted, has turned, to whom and for what is unknown. A super agent, Jessica Reel, goes missing, after being part of the team that had set off to take Ahmadi out. 

In a ‘set a thief to catch a thief’ manoeuvre, crack government assassin, Will Robie, is brought in, without a let up from another tiring assignment. He and Jessica have been peers and she is as good as he is, done equally tough and dangerous tasks that would daunt many in the field. He is assigned to bring her in, or bump her off. Will has worked with her in the past and knows her moves instinctively. But he doesn’t know what motivated her or drove her to turn into a rogue agent, now eliminating the very people she worked with, one by one.

The latest and shocking casualty is the number two man in the hierarchy of the highly secret elimination department, who is killed with a clean head shot, while sitting in the back seat of a car, the bullet traversing the little space between the passengers in the front seat. The killing has roused the government agencies into frantic action, needing that Jessica be stopped.

Jessica knows that the only man who will be put on the job will be Will Robie, and goes about communicating with him, on his email account, revealing a massive and compromising breach of security. It also reveals a grudging admiration she has for Will: Sorry it’s come to this, Will. Only one can survive, of course. Selfishly, I hope it’s me. Respectfully, JR.  Will sets about tracking her, visiting the remote place where she lives in a secluded seafront cottage miles away along the Eastern Shore area of Virginia. He moves into the house, going from room to room, until he opens the door to the pantry, where the word SORRY is written on the back wall. Will has hardly grasped the import of this, when he hears a click, and then a whoosh, and the cottage disintegrates in a fireball. He has to sprint to safety even as more explosions rock what remains of the cottage. As he runs towards what he sees is a pond, the accelerant Jessica has filled it with goes up with a massive explosion.  Round one to Jessica.

The other female player in this fast-paced book is FBI special agent, Nicole Vance, who is fond of Will and has worked with him in the last Will Robie book, The Innocent, the heart-warming thriller of a young girl, Julie Getty, fending for herself after being tracked by a killer, against very frightening odds. It was a super bestseller, too and it would do well to pick it up first though the stories here don’t work as sequels in any way.

The Hit
by David Baldacci
Pan Macmillan
Rs.550

Poetry in simply it’s most sophisticated form
Pastpresent by Amruta Dongray affirms a fact we should all be very glad about. Fine poetry is alive and well. Imagery and thought are all here, each at its very best. Describing a poem is like describing colours – vain. So just read on and buy. This book is published by the Amruta herself – connect with her on [email protected]

Flight of Imagination
The cranes looming large
Oe’r the pillars, have grown
Too tall for their own feathers
Said he
I can’t ride my steed
The colourful bugs crawling
Will get buried
So how do we save these?
What you see are birds
Not umbrellas flying upturned

The Rosary
The Rosary is deaf
To the Name being chanted

Two to Tango
This is not our first
We have faltered at a few
We have stepped on each other’s toes
But haven’t ever broken our heels
Never feeling like a puppet at your behest
Though you take the lead
We know it’s the music and the Latino beats
That makes us both dance

The floor, a silent witness to myriads of emotions
Reminds us of the constant rule
It takes two to tango

Transaction
Where there is a will
And willingness to pay
There’s a way

So, some say

Double Helix
We are two single strands
Moving in a graceful serpentine twist
This motion of us two
Running opposite but never separating
Has united us through ages

Pastpresent
by Amruta Dongray
Rs.300

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