Being the second book in 'Mehrunisa Trilogy', I was quite apprehensive on reading the second part without reading the first one. But thankfully, there aren't any continuing storyline that can make you clueless. The only connecting dots between the two parts are its characters. Rock solid spies - Harry, RP and Raghav. And the art lover and restorer - Mehrunisa who can switfly turn her side as a spy and still continue to connect the present world with a Renaissance mural or even a Mughal painting. And still, she is a woman, and know her boundaries and has her own fears and limits. Very well written the character is. As she is not out and out a daredevil which would lead one to start believing it as a 'fiction'. And the spy team - RP, Raghav and the 'Snow leopard'. Each one gets a perfect caricature by the writer's pen. That you can imagine the exact person what writer had in her mind.
Extreme detailing doesn't end with the characters alone. The backdrop of Afghanistan, FATA, POK, Pakistan and places around - are given in so much details that it leaves you stunned. Add to that, the political history, the games that USA, Russia and Pakistan played on playground of Afghanistan. How and who got the benefits of those. And how India is thrown in the picture with what connection. Everything looks so well researched and that makes the journey more authentic. You feel transported to those sandy deserts of Afghanistan, those killer peaks of Hindu Kush and even those dark, cruel caves.
The pace - is essence of the tale. It is not easy to hold reader's attention in a book, especially. And when you promise a tale that is going to last only 96 hours, that too in first few pages. You have to bind the reader to the ongoings. And this tough part is done with sharp finesse.Though at places, nearing to finale, I felt too much detailing of few new characters, did mar the pace for a while. But that again, after reading further pages, you feel it was the necessary devil. Another complaint is how everything falls conveniently in place while finding the cryptic clues. Or may be, because this is not a 'mystery' but a thriller. May be, its just me.
Unputdownable - the word is used n'times. But this one surely is. Because of its pace. Because how it takes you on a ride that goes from cliffs to caves, barren deserts to chilling peaks, museums to terror camps. Would certainly recommend this.
Don't be surprised it this gets converted into a film. My vote to play Mehrunisa goes to Bipasha (of course, as a 'fit' spy, who else suits?) or Deepika (remember her 'art restorer' role?).