Clear Line of Fire by Badrinath Nuggehalli is a thriller along the lines of the best in the international reading scene today. In fact, it is so well written by way of plot and language, that if one substituted the writer’s Indian name for an anglicized one from the US or UK, no one be the wiser.
The stage is set at the CIA headquarters at Langley in Virginia, where top operative Allen Connolly is summoned after being pulled off from a restful weekend in Quetta in north-west Pakistan. Connolly has spent some good years of his childhood in India and the rest of the subcontinent. At the centre of it all, and also this story to an extent, is a 155-mm calibre self-propelled mountain terrain howitzer deal being negotiated between India and the breakaway republic of Uzbekistan.
Originally, it was India and the USSR who had struck the deal, so understandably, the Russians are keen on stealing the design. That an Uzbek, who was their ballistics expert, is now working for his own country, has spurred the Russians even further, since at stake now is the reputation of Mother Russia. Anton Konstantin is the top intelligence man delegated to thwart the lowly Indians and Uzbeks.
Satyan Sharma is the genius behind the electronics for the howitzer, and his company that he has populated with trusted friends and associates, has devised the software using GPS technology to precisely zero in on the targets. Also zeroing in on it all are the usual crooks - the Indian politicians and their thugs, and shady businessmen. Fiancee Rubita provides help and moral support as lives get threatened.
Clear Line of Fire by Badrinath Nuggehalli Rupa Publications Rs.195