HYDERABAD: Moving from the valley of Kashmir to the hills of Siachen and from Seoul to London, Soumitra Singh in his debut novel The Child of Misfortune writes about a childhood friendship that has gone wrong. The young author who is an engineer-cum-management graduate has worked in the finance industry and pursued research in counter terrorism financing before pursuing his first love - writing.
The entire story set in the backdrop of Indo-Pak politics, financial and cyber terrorism, hacking and global conspiracy seems like the usual Bollywood potboiler and takes you on a roller coaster ride, jumping from issue to issue and place to place. Outlining the story of two boys the protagonist Amar Rathore and his classmate and friend Jonah, a shadowy and enigmatic character, the author begins chronicling their childhood days using the metaphor of the game of chess.
The two young boys used to play chess when they were young, however, a series of events rip apart their friendship.
Now, grown up, they find themselves challenging each other again. It is a dangerous game of chess with extremely high stakes involving their lives and the lives of millions of people. It is a game that takes them on an audacious journey from the the stark terrains of Ladakh to Srinagar and finally to the corporate houses of London. But who will survive and who will win is a big question mark?
The author has introduced and raised many questions starting from regional and global politics, terrorism in the Valley, jihadi politics and whether the end justifies the ways and means adopted by the terror groups. He does not delve on these issues in detail but just touches them superficially and then goes over to the next issue. His creative work has been inspired by many real life events. The Child of Misfortune, a geopolitical thriller therefore, has diverse subjects like chemical weapons, cyber-attacks, hacking issues, the drug trafficking industry, anti-terrorism and money laundering, corruption and street gangs.
Fleeing from the Valley, the protagonist gets involved with an internet geek from South Korea called Kang who is also kidnapped. Amar helps this weird character to escape from his Korean abductors, a street gang. Although the story has been woven well, however, one feels Soumitra Singh is trying to follow a Dan Brown plot line especially when it comes to the frequent introduction of characters and places.
The most interesting part of the plot is the unexplained rivalry between Amar and Jonah, and what actually happens. It is a racy book with a lot of intrigue and unknown twists in the story.
With multiple locales and characters, the book is, in fact, really good for a debut offering. The writing too is simple and understandable with a tight racy plot. The only problem is that the author has included too many large scale problems which make it cumbersome. All in all, an interesting well researched book if one forgets and flips over the jumps and jerks.