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Paperback Pickings

Truth, terror and thrills

GYPSY ESCAPADES (Rupa, Rs 250) by William J. Jackson is the story of four friends from different cultures who travel across India — the “land of poverty and wealth, deserts and jungles” — dodging lethal attacks and going all out to avert a catastrophe. The protagonists are Jill Rothchild, a smart American graduate student; an agent of the Research and Analysis Wing, Venky, and the Narikuravas, Sing and Kinnari. The four of them brave different climates, meet quirky characters and narrowly escape with their lives from murderous thugs who are armed with the latest gadgets. They change disguises frequently and make their way through mountainous terrain in order to reach the extremist leader, Kebab. The latter wanted the four friends dead and was planning an attack that would wreak havoc all over the subcontinent.

The story has an element of suspense and the setting is apt — the Indian landscape acts as a great background. The language is simple and free-flowing, making this book an interesting read.

THE SIGN: THE SHROUD OF TURIN AND THE SECRET OF THE RESURRECTION (Viking, Rs 499)To soften the blow of Timeri N. Murari’s latest offering, it ought to be read as fantasy. Consider the plot. Kabul lies eclipsedexplores the mystery surrounding the resurrection of Christ based on seven years of research and a reinterpretation of Biblical passages. The author, an art historian, believes that Christ’s followers did see ‘something’ at his tomb. He says that, according to tradition, the Shroud was a piece of linen cloth used to wrap the dead body of Christ; it is believed to have an imprint in the likeness of the crucified Christ. It is regarded as a historical fake largely on the basis of a carbon dating test carried out in 1988. De Wesselow tries to establish the authenticity of the Shroud. The book has the style of a fast-paced work of fiction but is full of facts and pictures of the Shroud as well as references to scriptures and studies.

THE INNOCENT (Pan, Rs 350) by David Baldacci has all the ingredients of a thriller.Will Robie is a government assassin who always follows orders and never fails to nail his target. However, he gets into big trouble when he disobeys an order to kill a mid-level Washington bureaucrat and a mother of two. He flees to New York City and meets a young girl who is on the run from another killer. He decides to help the girl unravel the secrets behind her parents’ deaths. Violent and full of graphic details, the book narrates the journey of a flawed yet stoic hero.