ISBN 978-81-906981-0-8,

Status: Ready for Publication

Mock Up copy: Ready,

Number of pages: 450

Print on Demand copy: Rs 700-



Review by Narayan Radhakrishnan

Title:                             He Was Once a Spy
Author:             L. Prakash
Publishers:                    Banana Publications, 2010
ISBN                           : 978-81-906981-0-8
Price                            : …….
Rating:                          : ***** (4 bolts)
            Are spy thrillers popular in India? Sure they are- and in the Sixties and Seventies the Indian popular reading market was filled with amateurish pastiches of James Bond, Flint and Saint. I am reminded of the cool Zadu (created by Shyam Dave) and the super cool desi James ‘Bawnd’ enacted by Tamil actor Jaishankar in the silver screen. For a generation (make that 2 generations) in India, spy thrillers just meant savvy gadgets and a protagonist who is least unfazed even by the most extenuating circumstances. Even when Ian Fleming gave way to John  Le Carre and Ken Follett in the West- Indians were still enamored by the exploits of Shotgun Murugan type spy protagonists. This is unfortunate and at the same time amusing; for many an Indian reader is a hardcore fan of John Le Carre and Ken Follett.
            But why were our authors resting their laurels on wham-bham style spy thrillers alone? Why didn’t they break the shackles and delve into more serious spy novel writing? These thoughts often crossed my mind? Of course Shashi Warrier and Ashok Menon did try their hand at spy novels- but they were more pseudo military espionage novels than pure spy thrillers. And after reading HE WAS ONCE A SPY my query has been answered. For the first time I am reading a good, solid, in-depth, invigorating spy thriller that is of the same ilk of that of Le Carre and Ken Follett.
            Of course, any contemporary spy novel will have to be centered on terrorism and that’s precisely the premise of Dr. L. Prakash’s HE WAS ONCE A SPY. Mixing fact with fiction (the Mumbai train blasts of 2007, Narmada Bachao Andolan etc), Prakash delivers a top notch thriller in his debut spy thriller work. And like every other Prakash novel- one doesn’t know what to expect next. With twists, double twists and triple twists; HE WAS ONCE A SPY makes tantalizing reading. The novel is strangely reminiscent of THE KEY TO REBECCA by Ken Follett. Though it is totally different in plot setting- the narrative style sort of reminded me of this Follett classic. And if this novel gets popular we will get one more word to the English language – “cutivate”. If you want to know what this word means- its simple- read the book, my, friend.

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