Book Review: Bombay Swastika by Braham Singh

“Their two banshee wails came together to wax before dying off into the distance.” – Braham Singh

Hey there, readers! I know it’s been long, but I’m back now and this week I was able to get my hands on Bombay Swastika by Braham Singh. 

Let us get into the review, shall we?



Bombay Swastika swings from a Nazi Berlin gearing up for its Final Solution, to 1964 Bombay, where Ernst Steiger, a German Jew, accidentally finds himself caught up in the murder of a young tribal, killed amidst allegations of something being stolen from a secure American compound. With the monsoons laying siege on the city, the reader accompanies Ernst past Bombay’s refugee camps and haunted whorehouses; food shortages, textbook mafias, communist protests against American PL 480 Food Aid, and peculiar happenings at India’s nuclear facility; where Dr. Homi J. Bhabha, the nation’s atomic mastermind, gets drawn into a conspiracy hatched in his absence.

This one-of-a-kind thriller unfolds through the eyes of a motley cast-Salim Ali, the South Indian, Muslim engineer and committed Marxist; Bhairavi, the enigmatic and sensual refugee girl; Sethji, the dowry messiah; Tsering Tufan-Homi Bhabha’s Smiling Buddha-dying from radiation exposure; and Andhi Ma, the blind mendicant who sees what we can’t.

Bombay Swastika is an exploration of the dark world of absolute truths.


The word ‘Swastika’, a symbol of spirituality, was twisted into a symbol of hatred by the Nazis as they used it to inculcate widespread rallies across Germany. The author here, used the titled to represent the connection of the Black Swastika in the form of Ernst, a Jew, who lands up in Bombay.

Besides the literal meaning, what is amazing about the title is how sophisticated and catchy it sounds while also managing to remain relevant to the plot of the book.

Title Rating – 5 / 5



Upon first glance, the cover is nearly ordinary. However, it is only on looking closer that it becomes evident how striking the imagery really is. A woman wrapped in a red cloth, with a swastika locket dangling  behind her down to her back. To me, it depicted strangulation by a weirdly contorted symbol of well-being.


Cover Rating – 4.5 / 5


“Truth be told, he still didn’t know what to make of his father’s life or his mother’s death..” – Braham Singh

There is no doubt that this book is an outright thriller right from the start.  Without having the elements of an action, the adventurous approach to the plot made it seem all the more fast-paced while realistically setting us towards a gripping experience. It isn’t just a story, it’s a movie in words. Bombay has been portrayed in very high detail though set around the 1960s and this provides an insight into India from the past.

“As with most buildings, bulbs were optional and the corridors cast long shadows.” –  Braham Singh

The author has a very strong sense of language and it was nearly impossible to find any errors within the book. That being said, the diction and the vocabulary seemed a little too overpowering at times, making it a little difficult to stick to the scene. In some places, however, this seemed necessary. The author did a fantastic job in connecting loose ends and finishing off the story on a sweet note.

“A beauty of sorts crept into the night and a feeble moon looked down at India.”  – Braham Singh

There is such keen characterization in the novel that one almost misses to focus of the story. Each character has been etched with such depth and glory that it easily dominates the plot. This, in fact, is a good thing because it ensures that the novel sticks with you for long afterward the reading is done.

Overall, it is a highly engaging and an enjoyable read.

Plot Rating – 4 / 5

I loved…

  1. The writing style
  2. The Characters
  3. The plot

I wanted…

  1. A more realistic ending
  2. Less profanity

Overall Rating: 4.5 / 5

Verdict: Definitely Worth Every Penny!

Order your copy from any of the links below:

Amazon India

Amazon (US)



Book Review: If Wishes Were Horses by Tim Hemlin

I just read If Wishes Were Horses by Tim Hemlin which is a collection of short stories. Here is what I thought…


I personally did not find the cover too appealing. It was dull and not catchy at all. I feel like something different can be done too make it attractive.

Cover Rating – 2.5 / 5


I loved the title. It’s from a famous quote “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.” It is catchy and interesting. Makes a person want to grab the book and give it a read.

Title Rating – 4.5 / 5


This is the first part of a mystery series by Tim Hemlin centered around the character “Neil Marshall”. It has a ‘Richard Castle’ vibe to it from the famous ‘Castle’ series. This book is a gripping tale of an emotionally damaged and financially unstable man whose passion is literature. When circumstances require for him to work for a restaurant an move in with his friend, he finds himself trapped in a sticky situation. This is centered around his friend’s murder and the horses he breeds for a living.

What really shone through was the research and the situations that the author very clearly has thought through thoroughly. It is impeccable and shows the passion that he has towards writing. I really commend him for his skill. The narration is done very cleanly, without even a little confusion and the style of writing is very clear.

There aren’t any major grammatical errors. The suspense is maintained very well throughout the book.

Rating – 4 / 5


All in all, this was a great read and something I would definitely recommend to anyone who is interested in mysteries or thrillers.

Final Rating: 4.5 / 5

Verdict: Recommended!

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My new novel, ‘Twisted’ is now out in stores. Take a peak into the sample chapters and order your copy today at Amazon!

Book Review: Psycon by Varun T

I just read Psycon by Varun Tejwani. What started with apprehension ended with amazement.
Here is what I thought.


I love how the cover has an element of suspense and mystery to it. Darkness is the most intriguing factor and upon first look, it develops in readers a sense of curiosity. Good job on being able to do that.

Cover Rating – 4 / 5


The title is a conglomeration of what I presume as psychological and a con based story. It is unique and unlike any other I’ve seen. I like the build it presents of the story,  leading to a variety of guesses about the plot.

Title Rating – 4 / 5


This novel falls broadly into the genre of a Political Thriller which revolves around the  IT department, black money and corruption. It builds slowly yet steadily into a massive tale of gripping suspense. It falls rightly into the thriller category as the author has beautifully woven a serious masterpiece.

The infusion of ‘Satyameva Jayate’ with ridiculed patriotism and the intervention of CBI are commendable, to say the least. The story revolves around Prateek and Yashwardhan who constitute ‘Psycon’ in an attempt to get involved in the ruling party’s regime and con their way out with massive wealth.

The writing style is strong with a good sense of language and grammar. It is an easy ready and will keep you hooked till the end. The plot compliments the author’s sense of satire.

Rating – 4.5 / 5


If you are into a thriller of its best kind, then Psycon is the book for you. Pick it up, give it a shot and you are sure to be enthralled. This will be an excellent addition on your shelf. I guarantee it.

It is available both as an e-book as well as paperback and the best part is that whatever royalty the author makes from this book gets donated to the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund.

Order your copy!

Final Rating: 4.5 / 5

Verdict: Recommended!

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Book Review: Karma by Kevin Missal

I just read Karma by Kevin Missal and found it quite thrilling.

The book cover was fantastic and had an eerie feel to it. It has the vibe of a horror film which made it even more appealing to me. I love the colour combination and the feel of it. Coming to the title,  I have to say it was bang on to the plot. Short, catchy and intriguing. It had all the right elements to it. Also, I have to mention, this being an ‘instaread’, which basically means it’s much smaller than the usual novel, I definitely was excited because I’ve never seen anything quite like it… A tiny book with so much of depth to it. Great job on that.



Now, the main plot. The blurb behind the book is excellent. It’s very short and creates a lovely anticipatory feeling.  It is a very engaging read about a widower who begins to see his dead wife. What follows is a series of events, twists and lessons that unravel a rather complicated mess. The book leaves you feeling content, yet with a hint of a doubt in your mind, which seems like what the author intended to do with his story.  The writing style is good, the flow is constant and I wasn’t bored anywhere. Another factor to take into consideration is how the author cleverly inter-played a few of our societal issues today, in a caste-based as well as legal mix-and-match. This fits well with the theme.

Overall, it was an enjoyable read, one that takes less than an hour to complete. Definitely money’s worth. I recommend it.


Cover: 4/5
Title: 5/5
Plot: 4.5/5
Overall: 4.5/5

Book Review: Twenty Twenty – A Race Against Time by Anuraag Srivastava

I just read Twenty Twenty – A Race Against Time by Anuraag Srivastava.
Here is what I thought.



I personally did not like the book cover. It just didn’t seem like a lot of effort was put into it. It is unoriginal and bland. Sadly, this just did not work for me.

Cover Rating – 2.5 / 5


The title is perfect for the plot and the story. I felt that it fit well with the essence of the novel. Time is always something that we have no control over. It slips out of our grasp before we even know it. That justifies the plot as well as the title quite well.

Title Rating – 5/5


The genre is Thriller, which is very evident both from the cover and the title. However, there is so much more to the story than just that. The story revolves around two siblings who find themselves caught in a seemingly impossible situation where they have just twenty days to relieve themselves from their own stressful adventure.

The part I loved most about this book is that it has two female protagonists, both portrayed as powerful and sophisticated women who are able to hold their ground. It revolves around the troubles they face, the manipulations they have at the center of their hands and the relationships that are tethering at the edge of breaking points. It is very admirable to see that the author has been able to portray a side to women that isn’t really acceptable within the Indian Society. These two sisters do everything that a man does and gets away with – be it sex, power and even redemption.

It was an enjoyable read. The writing style is very good and the book is quite fast paced.

Rating – 5 / 5


Definite recommendation from my end. Worthy of reading and will linger with you for a long time.

Final Rating: 4 / 5
Verdict: Recommended!

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Book Review: UNNS – The Captivation by Sapan Saxena

I just read ‘UNNS – The Captivation’ by Sapan Saxena and enjoyed myself.
Here is what I thought.


I personally felt very neutral about the cover. It neither had the mystery nor the attraction factor, which for me, are quite essential when I first look at a book. It felt bland, plain and simple. These things could all be very good, but as a personal opinion, I wasn’t very impressed.

Cover Rating – 2.5 / 5


This is where my review picks up. The title is fabulous. I love the sound, the essence and the meaning of it. Before starting the book, I actually googled it and learnt that it meant love in Arabic. Upon reading, I realized that it is one of the seven stages of love that is mentioned by the author in the novel.

The by-line ‘The Captivation’ is so captivating in itself.

Title Rating – 5/5


At first, the book seemed ordinary and the plot felt quite run of the mill. But it would be an understatement to say that the story line picked up midway. The author has done a fantastic job in creating various twists along the way and placing them intelligently between the chapters.

What starts of as love between two teens blows out of proportion when they are separated due to forced circumstances and are united years later. I won’t say more for fear of revealing something. But be rest assured that you will be getting more than you expect.

The writing style is good. The grammar is on point and the style is easy to read. However, it seemed prolonged and elongated in a few parts and very little is left to the readers’ assumptions and understanding as everything is explained in detail. While I understand that the author would have wanted for there to be no confusion, it did seem a bit much considering that the new age readers are all well equipped to draw out and follow twists very well.

Kudos to the author for trying something out of the box with a predictable romance.

Rating – 4 / 5


It was a great read and I particularly enjoyed understanding the seven stages of love through the book. It seemed realistic and quite engaging. The combination of a thriller within the romance was wonderful though predictable in a few places. However, that being said, a definite recommendation from me!

Final Rating: 4.25 / 5
Verdict: Recommended!

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Book Review: The Flame of Anahata by Saranya Umakanthan

I just read ‘The Flame of Anahata’ by Saranya Umakanthan and I found it to be a different kind of reading experience.
Here is what I thought.



I thought the cover was excellently done. It is meaningful, catchy and is portrayed picturesquely.
The elements are all there and they are well thought out. The title is written in a beautiful font which is only superseded by the way the author’s name is written. Wonderful choice of fonts.

However, one tiny drawback, something that really did nag at me was that I did not see the depth of the woman on the cover when I read the book. Looking at that woman filled me with multiple expectations of the protagonist.
For some reason, that did not manifest within the plot.

That being said, I still stick by the quality of the cover.

Cover Rating – 4.5 / 5


To be honest, when I first read the title, it failed to impress me. It didn’t seem as something I either fully understood or even liked. But then again, that is just my opinion. To each his own.

I will however mention that the title is perfect for the plot and it fits the story-line very well. It represents infinity in emotion which is what the tale is all about. That is the most important thing to consider.

Additionally, the byline ‘Love Conquers All’ is quite attractive to an otherwise serious cover and provides the right kind of balance.

Title Rating – 3.5/5


There is strength in the author’s narration. She knows how to frame her sentences to capture the reader. That, I believe, forms a base for any author. One suggestion from my side would be to see  continuity in her dialogues. They seemed abrupt at a few places, especially the way they started.

The story holds nothing brand new and is quite predictable. But it has been written well, it sticks out in the era of romance storytelling and it definitely is worth the time spent reading it. There isn’t a dull moment anywhere and the style of writing definitely is crisp.

There is freshness in the story, more in the way it is written than in anything else. That is the major attraction factor of the book. It is rare to come by a story that grips you till the very end in a subtly expressive way. The Flame of Anahata does just that.

Rating – 4 / 5


I don’t regret reading this book at all. It was a great read, one I am happy to have on my shelf. With the exception of passable cons, it has the elements most readers would be happy to indulge in. The primary reason for my recommendation is that this book blends a thriller with romance which is one genre-breed that I love to read.

Final Rating: 4 / 5
Verdict: Recommended!

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She darted her eyes to the left, her breath heavy and her face contorted with dismay.
The room was dark and dingy, the water leaking through the walls as well as from the ceiling. She sat balled up in a corner, trying hard not to cry.
“Help…” she whispered, her throat dry.
Dried up tears stained her pale cheeks. She tried to stand without placing any weight on her damaged foot but kept falling backwards. Blood soiled the floor with its terrifying red, reminding her of the time her parents committed suicide right in front of her eyes. Suddenly, she had an idea. Unwinding her scarf from around her head, she tied it to her foot and bit her tongue from screaming out in pain when the cloth put pressure on the open wound.
Breathing deeply, she gritted her teeth and tried to stand one last time. Leaning against the wall, she let her feet settle. Where was she? Why had he left her here?

Limping across the tiny room, she tried the door, knowing fully that it wouldn’t open. When she pulled with all her might, the handle came off in her hands and she fell back, leaving all her struggle to go in vain. Groaning in pain, clutching her leg tightly from the throbbing pain, she laid, her hair grubby from all the muck. As she turned her head, she saw something shining in the other corner of the room. Gathering all her energy, she dragged herself across the floor, knowing that it would be pointless to try and stand now.
“Come on, come on,” she told herself. “You can do this.”

It took a painstakingly long time, her body betraying her, the blood leaving stains all over the floor as she continued to drag herself with her hands. Her effort seemed to pay off, because the shining thing in the corner was actually her own battered phone. Flashes of the strange man throwing it across the room and slapping her unconscious crossed her mind.

Picking it up with trembling fingers, she dialled the first number on the list. The display was broken, but the keys still worked. As the phone rang, she lay on the floor, exhausted. There was a cackling noise and then she heard a voice.

“Hello?” the male on the other end said. “Hello? Thank God you called. I was about to call the police. Where have you been? Come back home, darling. Please.”

Her eyes went wide. It was him.

“Doll,” the voice continued. “We are getting married in a week. Do you have to run away now? I said I was sorry. Can we please not fight anymore? Please?”

She closed her eyes, trying to shake the ego away.

“Help,” she croaked. “Help, please…”

“Hello? Lis? Are you alright? What’s wrong? Where are you? Hello?”


“Lis, where are you? Just tell me where you are. I will be right there.”

She saw no other option.

“Shed,” she said painfully. “Shed… Outskirts… Street 23…”

The line went dead. She breathed in again and finally let herself cry. It was too much effort to even sit up. Her stomach was empty, there was no food in sight and that monster just left her to die.

As the phone buzzed with another call, she closed her eyes and slipped off into oblivion.

When she opened her eyes, she was in a room. She felt a bit relaxed and realised she was on a bed. She touched her face and found that there was something like a bandage across her forehead. Looking down, she saw that her whole foot up to her ankle was completely wrapped in cloth. It felt numb.

“She’s awake,” she heard someone shout. “Doctor! Nurse! Anyone!”

She turned her head and saw her fiancé staring down at her with love in his eyes. How could he pretend so beautifully?

“I thought you were gone,” he said, holding her hand. “I love you, Lis…”

She tried a smile.

The doors burst open, but the doctor did not walk in. Two officers did.

“Good afternoon, ma’am. My name is Ben and this is Joe. We need to be able to question you now. Are you up for it?”

“No,” her fiancé said. “Can’t you see she is unwell?”

“I’m fine,” she insisted. “I am ready to answer your questions.”

Her voice was back, she found out in a pleasant surprise and smiled inwardly to herself.

“Alright,” one of the officers said, “Sir, you will have to leave the room!”

Her fiancé chuckled.

“We have no secrets, right, Lis?” he said, shrugging.

“But they have to follow protocol,” she told him.

With a heavy heart, he walked away.

“Can you please tell us everything you remember?” one of the officers asked as the other switched the tape recorder on.

“I…It was a normal day, the sun was shining and everything was beautiful. I was on my way to work when… this part is fuzzy in my mind. There was a man… he hit me… and then he took me somewhere… I was sitting in his car… Next to him… The next thing I knew, I was in a shed, or was it a barn? I don’t know. I tried calling the cops on my phone, but he found out and he slapped me and threw the phone away…”

She touched the wound at the edges of her lip. It was still raw.

“Alright, ma’am. You need to explain to me how it happened… I need the details”

“We found a bullet in your left foot…” the other officer blurted out.

“No,” she shook her head. “It was my right foot and… he did that to me. He shot me because I refused to get into the car…”

“Where were you when this happened?”

She closed her eyes.

“In some garden of some sort… I can’t remember very clearly, but there was grass… On my way to work…”

“And then he got you into his car… Can you explain what this vehicle looked like?”

“It was black. A sedan, maybe? I don’t know but one side mirror was broken. I remember that. A mirror was gone. You know those two mirrors outside? The one at the passenger seat was gone. I think it fell off somewhere because he was driving really fast and…”

“What did he look like?”

“He was a little taller than I am… and he had really rough hands. His eyes… They were a deep blue and very sharp.”

“Alright ma’am. Our team is investigating the shed at the moment for any sign of some sort. We will get back to you as soon as we can. You get well soon.”

Three days later, she was called to the police station. Limping in with her crutches and her fiancé by her side, she greeted the officers with a smile.

“You found the man?” she asked. “Please tell me you found him. I can’t sleep at night…”

“Unfortunately, we couldn’t find any clues from the shed. Whoever did this to you is very clever. However, we do have criminals who commit this sort of… crime. They are on the other side of this door. If we take you in there, do you think you would be able to identify the man?”

When she gulped nervously, one of the officers stepped forward.

“Both of us will be with you and your fiancé will be coming in as well.”

She nodded as confidently as she could.

In the room, five men were standing in front of her, their faces not giving away any expression whatsoever. She scanned them all, tried to remember something from that day. But her mind was not cooperating.

“Ma’am, take your time. Just let us know if any of these men is the one.”

She stood up from her chair and backed up against the wall. Her eyes turned glassy and she began to sweat profusely.

“Lis, what’s the matter? Are you alright?”

Her fingers went up to her temples and she closed her eyes, tears streaming down her cheeks.

“Ma’am… are you remembering something? Is everything okay?”

As her fiancé stepped towards her, worry written across his face, the officers asked him to move back.

“I remember who the man was!” she said suddenly, her breath getting heavy.

“Is he in this room?”

She nodded, terrified.

“Ma’am, you don’t have to say anything. Just point at the man. They are all standing right there and they won’t harm you. We assure you that.”

With shaky fingers, she pointed.

But it was not at any of those men.

It was at her fiancé.

It took two more days to finish all the proceedings and the formalities.

“Thank God, that’s done with,” Officer Joe said. “We make a good team, Ben.”

But Ben did not respond. He was lost in thoughts.

“What’s the matter?” Joe asked. “What is it that you’re thinking about?”

They were sitting in the local cafe, sipping coffee.

“It just doesn’t feel right,” he replied.

“What do you mean? Look, everything checked out. Every single detail. We found a gun in her fiancé’s room. It had his prints on it and the bullet from her foot checked out. It came from that gun. Also, his car is a black one. Not a sedan like she said it would be, but that was a detail she was not sure about. But it did have a missing mirror and there were traces of blood all over the car, especially in the passenger seat, even though he tried to clean it. ”

“Don’t you think it is strange, though?” Ben asked. “How everything just fell into place like that? How, she suddenly remembered that it was her fiancé who tried to murder her? How her fiancé kept calling her deranged? It felt staged to me…”

“You are over-thinking this, Ben. The man pleaded not guilty and he lost. The neighbours did not have any proof of her mental instability like he claimed. There are no medical records. Hell, she grew up in an orphanage after her parents killed themselves. Give the woman a break! Besides, all the evidences point to him. Even the ‘garden’ and the ‘grass’ that the woman was referring to was actually their front lawn and there was blood there as well. You know this, Ben. How can you still be doubtful? The man had a gun without a licence for it!”

“But he says he does not even remember buying that!”

“Then how can you explain the withdrawal of the same amount on his name a few days before the incident? Look, we see these cases all the time. Men just like to take advantage of their women. This is surely just a situation of a relationship gone wrong. At least no one died.”

“What if this was not one such case?”

“You know what? Let us just drop it. The man is behind bars, the woman is free and there is no other explanation in our hands. Our only regret should be that we didn’t check him out in the first place. Besides, we have so much more work to do.”

“You are right,” Ben replied, emptying his coffee and standing up. “Let’s go. We have another case in our hands. Some child kidnapping…”

“That’s the spirit, partner!” Joe laughed, patting him on the back.

Back at their house, Lis was taking the trash out. Her foot was feeling much better now and she could even walk, albeit slowly. As she took the garbage bags outside, the ones that had been piling up since a week, she glanced at her face in the mirror by the door. It was almost healed, the scars and wounds on her face fainter than they were a couple of days ago. Her eyes sharp, she slowly smiled, not with relief but with a sense of victory.
She then replayed the events in her head from the day of the accident.

Her fiancé was fast asleep.
He obviously would be, after the sleeping pills she popped into his drink an hour ago.
Careful not to make a sound, she went into their soundproof garage where he did most of his work, and revealed the gun that she had bought on his account almost a week ago. Her fingers trembled a little, but she knew that this was the only way.

Stifling a cry, she pointed it at her foot and shot herself, yelping in pain. Then she tied it up, with the bullet still in as she slipped her bleeding foot into his shoes. Tears streaming down her cheeks, she limped back into the house, placing the gun in his hands without waking him and then, taking his limp hand in hers, she opened the drawer so his fingers would be on that as well, and put the gun inside.
The pain was excruciating and she could feel the warmth of the liquid filling up.

Getting into the passenger seat of his car, she closed the door and slipped her foot out of the soiled shoe, spilling blood all over the mats. Then she ran her nails through the dashboard and the front cabinets as well as the bottom of the seat to make it seem like a struggle. For an added effect, she knocked the side mirror off the car.

The first part of her plan was working brilliantly. This had taken such a long time for her, to be able to lay out its execution without any hint of failure. Now, the more difficult part of her revenge was left and she almost gave up as the pain shot up the leg but knew she could not. Not after she came this far.
“Don’t pass out,” she told herself. “Not yet. Don’t pass out now.”

Catching a cab, trying to look as normal as possible, her scarf tied around her face and sunglasses covering her eyes, she got herself driven to the isolated area and then paid the doubtful cab driver. But he didn’t ask any questions, just reversed his vehicle and drove away
“Thank you,” she shouted after him, smiling and just as he was gone out of sight, she burst into tears.
“Just half a kilometre more,” she told herself and dragged her foot into the shed that she knew was unoccupied for over a year.
Breaking open the lock, she got in, and through the narrowly concealed hole that she drilled a few days ago, she latched it from outside. Then, she beat herself up a bit to add a touch of violence to her carefully schemed plan and when her phone flung out of her hands with the impact, she finally passed out.

Walking outside to the dustbin, she breathed in deeply, thinking about her ex-fiancé rotting in jail.
“Serves him right,” she told herself. “I am not the one who needs psychiatric help, he is. I taught him a lesson, didn’t I?” she laughed to herself. “How dare he threaten to call a counselor on me? For my own good, he says. I showed him!”
And then her eyes turned serious.
“Never mess with a woman.”
In the garbage bin were two bags filled with trash. But also in it were the only two evidences that could ever put her scheme out into the open.
The broken mirror. The bloody shoes.
Now they were gone forever.