Fast paced, filled with plenty of high-octane action and incredible twists and turns, Haunted is one action-thriller guaranteed to give an adrenaline rush. Douglas Misquita, Jr. has impressed and how!
Don't be mislead by the title, this book has nothing to do with the denizens of the spirit world or the afterlife, and the author - Douglas Misquita - is very much Indian *smile*
Action-thriller is one of my favourite genres and needless to say, I was more than glad when I won an author signed copy. There is nothing better than an intelligent and lucid thriller that pulls you into the narrative and keeps you there till the very end.
Book blurb: FBI Special Agent Kirk Ingram's life is torn apart when his family is brutally murdered before his eyes. Devastated physically and psychologically, he vows to destroy organized crime in all forms.
Across the globe, an international trade house brings terrorist activities and organized crime together in a deadly nexus that threatens to bring the world-order to the point of anarchy.
And only one man stands in the way of global terror and paranoia - one man seeking redemption, and waging a personal battle against the demons of his past...
Alistair Maclean is my all time favourite for his Second World War and action-thriller novels like: Ice Station Zebra, The Guns of Navarone, Breakheart Pass, among others. I have enjoyed watching the movies too... and it had absolutely nothing to do with the presence of a certain Gregory Peck, I tell you.
Maclean's Where Eagles Dare starring the slightly aging but with his debonair charm intact Richard Burton, and the suave Clint Eastwood is a classic that has achieved cult status.
I liked Sydney Pollack's Three Days of the Condor starring Robert Redford and Faye Dunaway as well. (Umm, I have a sneaking suspicion that the recent yawn-inducing yarn Kuchh Luv Jaisa starring the face of Indian English film, Rahul Bose and the wannabe desi Jennifer Aniston, Shefali Shah, directed by someone who is clearly a legend in her own mind, was 'inspired' by this 1975 classic.)
But I digress.
A plot built around the terrorism theme isn't something that we can call refreshing or novel, however the plot in Haunted clearly is and for an Indian author this one is certainly a hatke plot. Frankly the reader never feels that an Indian author has written this, and I mean no disrespect towards Indian authors. I am merely doffing my hat at Douglas' caliber as an action-thriller writer, the meticulous research, the erudite language, the taut narrative and the nearly impeccable editing, apart from the look and feel of the book of course. That reminds me... I got to buy one, a hat that is, if Douglas plans to keep writing thrillers like this.
The opening pages are simply mind-blowing - the built up, the chase and the encounter - all leave you quite stunned and yet asking for more.
The pace dips a bit in the subsequent pages, but picks up where it has to and from then onwards it is one tremendous ride. This isn't your run-of-the-mill terrorism stories but a tight adrenalin packed one, involving Citex, a deadly nerve agent. Umm, it reminds me of the 'naagpaas' mentioned in our epics and other literature classified as mythology... btw.
You travel along with Kirk Ingram, the slightly larger than life protagonist/hero, through his trials and tribulations - his highs and lows, his success and setbacks, his smiles and tears - in his quest to destroy organized crime in all forms.
Through the US, Eastern Europe and the Balkans you come across characters - some pitch black, some white and others with distinct shades of gray. You get a sneak peek into the methodologies adapted by the bad rather ugly and evil guys, their logistics network, their fronts, their lives, their agenda and their motivations.
There is some fabulous underwater action too.
The good guys - and there are quite a few of them - work tirelessly despite mounting challenges. Detective Connor stands out among them, though for some reason Arnold Schwarzenegger's visage appeared in my head a few times while reading about him - and under the current circumstances, it is not a compliment. And the good detective does absolutely nothing to merit one either.
You will warm up to the plucky Tamura and the intrepid Amanda Gunner who is on a mission of her own. What that is I will not tell you, read the book to find out.
Lars Gunther, his conglomerate and the shadowy Imer Qerim along with their cronies and sidekicks ooze nastiness from every pore of their being. They will leave no stone unturned to succeed in their nefarious designs and will stop at nothing to liquidate any opposition, Kirk and his team included.
How each of them goes about their job is something you got to read for yourself - for the thrills.
I won't be surprised if your GK or your vocabulary travels northward at the end of it. And there is a twist in the tale too - but don't expect me to play the spoiler. That is something I will not do.
Do not expect to skim through the book and this is no cursory read. It demands your full attention and is worth every bit of it.
When I say full attention, it does not indicate towards the reading bit only. You got to visualize it too. Simultaneously. Make sure you play out the scenes in your head, while your eyes do the reading. That will make it as they say in Mumbai or perhaps in matinee speak, "paisa vasool".
Needless to say, Haunted will make for one helluva movie too but not a desi one for sure. Umm, come to think of it, it may all depend on the caliber of the production team and the person wielding the megaphone and periodically hollering, "cut" as well.
There are many events and characters peppering the book that may leave you with the feeling that a few of them could have been pruned out. Yet towards the end they all converge and all the loose ends get tied up neatly. A word of advice: do try to read this book at one go or at least cover as much as you can every time you sit down or curl up to read it. You may have to go back and forth a few times in order to get the flow or refresh your memory... but then it is all worth it.
And Oh, make sure to put a face to the characters too - in your mind that is, e.g., Robert Redford or Gregory Peck or Paul Newman for Kirk Ingram - its more enjoyable that way. Where my loyalties lie, you already know. Don't you?
My rating: 4/5. A compelling read, it will appeal to all age groups. For fans of the action-thriller genre - this is one book you'll love to sink your teeth into.
I look forward to Douglas' future writings with interest.
Details of the book: Haunted/ Author: Douglas Misquita, Jr./ Publisher: Frog Books/ Publishing Date: March 1, 2011/ ISBN-10: 938015495X / ISBN-13: 978-9380154954/ Pages: 372/ Price: Rs.350; US $16.
Photograph: The book jacket cover of Haunted. Picture courtesy: link.