Venkat, a scientist of Indian origin in the US, finds that NSA, his employer, has been systematically spying on the Indian who’s who. Fearing that this might be used by vested interests to blackmail India, he steals the proof and somehow makes it back to Delhi.
But little does he know that a dangerous nexus of global businessmen, US military and their minions from Pakistan with sleeper cells in India are all behind him. Riya Kaul, his former college friend and a journalist, becomes an innocent pawn in the game that follows. Venkat and Riya are almost taken down by the masterminds… but for Devavrata Jatashankar Singh, aka Shaitan, a former operative of Rashtriya Rifles and currently a trusted go-to man of the national security advisor of India itself.
For a debut novel, Predators and Prey is superlatively amazing at many levels. Author Abhinav Agarwal has put in tremendous amount of research and the result is that it is impossible to keep the book down once started.
The characterisation of ‘Delhi Durbar’—as a media tycoon in the book calls it—warrants a special mention. Abhinav has described the way power is brokered through vested interests in such a detailed manner that one would feel the story is a real one or at least inspired from real events. The titbits quoted from Mahabharata and other ancient Indian texts are another added delight.
Apart from a very engaging story, the book also sensitises readers about the fallibility of individual privacy. Even as we carry our precious cellphones everywhere, we know that somebody is recording every move of ours even with the devices switched off and if they can, use it against us. The sole consolation at least in the story is India’s own trusted spy network and the loyalty of heroes such as Deva and Venkat, not to mention, the rigour that our special forces operatives undergo that enables them to take on powerful enemies.
Through Riya, the female protagonist, the reader is given a bird’s eye view of the compromise, corruption and espionage that is rampant in the media sector. A widow of a brave soldier killed by such powers, her courage stands out.
As the world around her falls to parts, we get to know the dangers that our country is exposed to. Deva’s courage and feats along with the other powerful ingredients form a great material for a big screen adaptation. The readers are in for a treat when the last page drops a clue for the next adventure of Deva. Abhinav Agarwal sure takes the benchmark high up for Indian thriller scene.