“That, my friend… was the final checkmate.”

Year 2005: When I was 21 years old, I could hardly form an essay. I would churn out broken poetry, learn the tricks of writing short stories. I remember enrolling myself in a writing competition for Chicken Soup for the Soul series. I remember the struggle to get my grammar correct and form a few strings of sentences.

Year 2015: A 21-year-old engineer turned author, Hrishikesh Joshi comes up with his debut book Checkmate. It, kind of, felt surprised to find an author so young writing on a thriller genre.

Plot: I have my own reasons for not writing the plot in my own words. I don’t wish to add spoilers to this novel. However, here’s what the book is about:

“An upright judge is used as a pawn by the terrorists to hijack a plane. The militants strike with vengeance to free their most dangerous fidayeens from the Indian prisons, as they hold a hundred passengers ransom. Calling the shots for jihadis from Pakistan is once upon a time the right-hand man of Osama Bin Laden and now the most dangerous terrorist in the world, Muhammad Zia Ul Afridi. With the Prime minister in soup, there is only one man to stop the diabolical scheme of the dreaded jihadis- Vikram Roy, chief Secretary of RAW, a dashing young man of action. As the Prime Minister is about to surrender the prisoners, Vikram Roy discovers the most shocking truth about activities inside the RAW. The weary nation holds its breath as the fate of a hundred hostages and the prisoners hang in limbo. However, the events that are about to follow are so unforeseen that they shock everyone to the core.“

It is advisable to read this thriller to know the twists and turns and the suspense that lies in the storyline. Psst… The storyline may seem familiar to many Bollywood movies and espionage thrillers, but that doesn’t spoil the fun of reading this book.

My Take: My very first impression while going through this book was like watching a Bollywood movie (especially the ones by Akshay Kumar). The plot setting is crisp. The book is fast-paced. At no point does the reader feel bored or wish to skip forward. I had expected the story to end on a familiar note until… the author got an unusual twist. For an upcoming, budding author it is very brave to come up with such a plot. This book has the meat in it to get adapted into a short TV series or a movie. On a positive note, it is a recommendable read. My words for the author, Well done. Kudos. Bravo.

Peace, Poetry and Power

Bhavin Shah