Book review - The Vault of Vishnu

Vault of Vishnu-1
A lone woman, struggling to make her mark in the male dominated world of the DRDO suddenly finds herself pitched into a web of deceit, lies, espionage and murder. What happens at the end is predictable, what is not is the way the story is told 

Words Aninda Sardar
Photography Roshni Manghani

Pam Khurana is summoned by an all powerful retired General at the Ministry of Defence to investigate the sudden appearance of strangely powerful soldiers in the Chinese Army who decimate a contingent of the Indian Army in the disputed Doklam region. What follows is a trail of deceit, lies and revelations as Pam goes deeper and deeper into the shadowy world of espionage. It’s a story that stretches across time and space as the plot explores the past and the present simultaneously, which is only to be expected since The Vault of Vishnu is Sanghi’s latest in the Bharat series. That, and the fact that the protagonist is a woman, is what’s common to the whole series.

There is however a big difference between all the other books and this one. In The Vault of Vishnu the story actually travels outside the borders of India. China, for the main part, both modern day China as well as ancient China. This aside, there are short forays into Cambodia and one short journey to South Korea. While the journey across geographies makes the story interesting, it also complicates things for the author as the story moves back and forth in time and space. To Sanghi’s credit he is able to ballet without losing a step and at no point do you feel like you’ve been left high and dry. The trick is of course in the level of detailing that Sanghi puts in his story telling technique. Nothing sketchy here, no broad strokes of the brush. This painting has seen the fine brush of a watercolour artist who leaves even the remotest corner of the canvas filled with intricate detail.

Vault of Vishnu-2
Title – The Vault of Vishnu
Author – Ashwin Sanghi
Publisher – Westland Publishing 
ISBN – 9789389152197

If you’re familiar with Sanghi’s works then you’ll also know that they are told through the mouths of strong characters. The Vault of Vishnu is no different. Whether we speak of Pam or her love interest and another principal character, Mark, or any of the others the characters are well formed and you can almost imagine them to be real. They have their strengths and failings that we see all around us. In essence they aren’t the infallible superheroes of comic books. Instead they are people who we can relate to and identify with. The end result of this is the plot and the way the story unfolds becomes more believable. That said, there are a few things like the existence of a neo-lithic monkey tribe deep in the forests of India and the existence of powerful formulae that can change the course of mankind will challenge your perception of reality. However, as Sanghi himself says, his work begins where history and mythology overlap. Definitely worth a read. More so since it’s fast paced and keeps you on your toes for the better part of the book. Proof? The number of scoldings I got from the wifey for not being able to put it down at the dinner table.