The Book Lovers blog held a contest in Dec 2012 and I was pretty intrigued by the prize. Luckily, I won the contest and that's how I got a chance to read 'When the Snow Melts' by Vinod Joseph.
When the Snow Melts has a very different setting from other fictional works by Indian authors. Its a thriller exploring the world of spies and intelligence agencies in the sub-continent. I have never come across a novel around this theme before and so was very excited to read it. The author - Vinod Joseph is a Mumbai-based lawyer and has presented us with a window into the secret world of spies and diplomats! This is his second novel, he has earlier written Hitchhiker which revolves around caste issues.
When the Snow Melts is set in London, where the author was; at the time of writing this book. Its about veteran spook Ritwik Kumar who is sent to the Intelligence Assessment Group (IAG), London, by the Indian Government. IAG has intelligence agents from all over the world who work together to fight global terrorism. Nabbing Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar, and purging Pakistan’s secret service agency - ISI, of fundamentalists,are the pet projects of IAG. Due to alcoholism and gambling, Ritwik ends up in the web of loan sharks and is ultimately driven to join al Qaeda.
The book takes us through the entire process by which Ritwik is taken in by al Qaeda, the mental and physical tests and tortures by them to ascertain whether he is a double agent or not. When the Snow Melts beautifully illustrates a constant friction between the Indian agent (Ritwik) and the Pakistanis (al Qaeda) due to differences in ideology and deep-rooted contempt for each other. It also acquaints us with the after-effects of 9/11 attack on Pakistan's diplomatic policies.
What I really like about this book is the descriptive nature of writing. There are vivid descriptions of few streets in London, the house where Ritwik is kept by ISI and even the ordeal that Ritwik faces in various situations throughout the book. The characters are sketched out in detail however its only much later that you come to know how these diplomats truly are. I couldn't find any reference to the book's title except that there is a lot of snow in London. Personally I feel it refers to how things and people can look deceptive on the surface and you never know what's going on in one character's mind. Its only when the snow melts that you can see what lies on the ground and same goes for the characters. They appear to be something and are in reality something else.
When the Snow Melts has twists, turns and even a love story that adds to the thrill, and keeps you guessing as to what will happen next? I suggest anyone who likes mystery and thrillers should definitely read this book. Hey, its not everyday that you find RAW, ISI, al Qaeda and Love all in one book, and please don't even think its like 'Ek Tha Tiger'. The book is very different and Much MORE Exciting than the said movie.
- Author: Vinod Joseph
- Paperback: 202 pages
- Publisher: Amaryllis (2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9381506116
- ISBN-13: 978-9381506110