It is really amazing where and how a diplomat like Vikas Swarup had kept his story telling skills so long in hiatus; Those who reads his second book Six Suspects' cannot but agree his style and imagination make one glued to the book till they come to the last page of it. Vikas has proved beyond doubt that 'Q&A' is not just a flash in the pan but an expression of a talented and gifted writer's concern on the day to day activities of the present India .
'Six Suspects' takes a bold step further and the book is almost an odyssey one could take from the urban and corrupt capital to the forlorn and virgin islands of Andamans traveling through several cosmo cities of new India.
The unexpected murder of Vicky Rai, the wayward son of an equally willful Jagannath Rai, Home Minister of Uttar Pradesh brings the desolate, depressing and terrible long stories of six visitors with gun in their possession to the party of Vicky Rai with palpable motive. They were surprisingly represented by a sauve bureaucrat to a guileless tribal. The others were a petty thief, a glamorous actress, a ruthless politician, and a gullible American.
Each one has a pretty long story behind before they assemble along with the other distinguished guests on the day of murder at the farm house of Mehrauli. Notwithstanding the five hundred odd pages what sustains the interest in tact are the contemporary political and social scenario and the racy narrative. The candid language without unnecessary frills but with phrases those are pungent and hard hitting go in favor of the author's ability to attract the readers. There are definitely instances too where one cannot but chuckle.
Well, the novel has its quota of supernatural imagery in the form of the s'ance, the misfortune that fell on those who keeps the ingetayi, the saving spirit of the tribals. The contemporary cosmopolitan life full of inhuman, mercenary, consumeristic, indifferent attitudes has been unleashed without any pretensions. The reader could feel the heat of the burning truth of the incidents because they form a coherent interpretation of our daily lives.
The last 50 pages of the novel almost keep you on the edge with as many twists and turns. The two chapters in these fifty pages, one the open letter of Arun Advani the investigating journalist and the section titled Confession are remarkable because every sentence in these two parts reflect our present society in no uncertain terms shearing all the fancy and glamorous exteriors.
The author uses the quote 'Nothing in the world is harder than speaking the truth' from Dostovesky's Crime and Punishment. Yes, Vikas has spoken the truth in this book about the modern India in all her uncouth public and political postures. 'No one comes down from heaven to sort out the mess on earth. You have to take off your shoes, hitch up your trousers and wade through the sodden muddy pit' must be the best and apt description that should suit the present day living.
The last line of the novel 'And even murder can become addictive' indubitably sends a chill up the spine on a serious reader because of its disturbing poignancy.
'Six Suspects' cannot be just called an amusing novel. It is a message to be read by all who can read prose.