Mani Padma once mentioned Ashok Banker in a chat and I was reminded of his books. More specifically the book I wanted to read from some time but it was not available in paperback 2 years back.
The same weekend I happened to be in Oxford bookstore and I bought “The blood red Sari”.
The book begins with 3 different ladies (not so different in attitude, I find soon) receiving an unexpected package each and for the sake of plot , none opens it.As they all go about with the routine that day, it soon seems that some one has cast a real wicked spell on their very existence. The package has been sent by dead social activist Lalima to her friend Anita and other ladies whom she though have it in them to use the knowledge carried in the package well. Unfortunately, even before the ladies can read the content, their lives are torn apart for reasons unknown to them, and in way they have never imagined or prepared themselves for.
A gay private investigator travels to Kerala; a Delhi based lawyer in wheelchairs, thanks to her in-laws and a private gym owner in kolkata, who was an ex-investigator are the kind of ladies who are commonly not found but whose strength and perseverance here is described as beyond normal. The pages and pages that tell you of the background story of the ladies make you known to their character and their heroic escapes or too courageous ideas, a little acceptable. Otherwise, some actions sequences would appear too biased towards our ladies and unimaginable to my perception.
The middle of the book is a bit dragging although you can not help being glad about the details and attention Banker has given to the setting and in describing the numerous characters in the story. I could not wait to reach the end, where I hoped Banker would have made sure of a fantastic climax. The reality was a bit deviating from the expectations. The end was breathtaking in many ways, one of them being the fact that the book doesn’t end here. Yes, I later came to know that this is the first book of a quadriology – The Kali rising.
While I certainly enjoyed this fast paced action thriller with a feminist punch , a lot of power to us, thanks to Banker, I feel the plot was a bit stretched in the book. The questions are bound to be there, but more than that, there are answers that look too obvious, some sequences too predictable.
Only the next book will decide if the author gets me hooked and waiting for the rest of the series or makes me lose interest after 2 books.
I rate this one 3/5 and another half point for the wonderful cover and the red shade on the pages that looks so damn appealing when you see the book.
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