K.Vijayakarthikeyan‘s latest fictional work “Heartquake“ welcomes you with an insipid cover photograph that isn’t justifying to the striking red title typography that grabs the eye. We are introduced to the protagonist Vikram Kumar who changes his fellow probationer Rakesh’s mind, of fleeing the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration, LBSNAA leaving behind his lucrative bureaucratic future to pursue his dream of being a stand-up comedian.
But the real deal begins when Vikram confronts the special guest at the academy Rudra Pratap Rana aka RPR, the Home Minister of Uttar Pradesh with his mortifying questions which goes viral on the internet. A seething RPR has Vikram posted as a sub-divisional magistrate in his own backyard, Laxmipur and unleashes violence on Vikram’s family. Vikram lands in Laxmipur while an inexplicable heart attack epidemic occurs across the town killing many people. Vikram tries to disentangle the baffling circumstance that he is embroiled in with the help of a cardiologist Veda and police officer Raghu while Laxmipur descends into a maelstrom.
As chaos ensues, is Vikram successful in decoding the heart attack epidemic, did he implicate RPR for his crimes and bring him down forms the rest of this thriller. The clever intriguing title gives you a hint of what is to come inside this 151-page medical thriller. The bland cover with a dark stock photograph doesn’t do justice for the amazing typography that accompanies the cover picture. The plot doesn’t digress from the mainline giving a rush within the readers which makes us turn the page faster. The writing is lucid and clear-cut without mincing any perplexing jargons even while explaining complicated telemedicine stuff.
The characters though limited do the job they are intended to and it’s Vikram who has a giant share of the plot carrying the story on his shoulders. He always stays grounded, thinks deeply to leap out of difficult situations and eludes the clutches of evil politicians. His love interest Veda, the cardiologist though doesn’t get her fair share of space other than wooing the protagonist with her love.
The villain RPR is menacing at the beginning only to crouch down giving his spaces to his accomplices like Hydra and the trepidation gets watered down. Though the brevity helps in shortening the size of this book, making the narration fast-paced, one couldn’t feel left out in some places wishing the author has extended some chapters establishing few characters better and intertwined the overlapping plots efficiently.
The author is to be lauded for his efforts to introduce the readers to a new idea about arrhythmic drugs and biochips used for espionage. Though one wished he had used it efficiently to bring out an even more chilling thriller as expected with the terrifying title.
Heartquake has an astounding beginning, slacks in the middle while gripping to an interesting plotline falling flat with a predictable and cliched climax. I would expect an even more astounding tale from the author in his future books.
“To become a successful politician, you need to be a good actor.
To become a successful actor, you need to be a good politician.
To become a successful bureaucrat though, you need to be both.”
Author: K. Vijayakarthikeyan
Publisher: Rupa Publications
Publication: 2019 Copy: Review Copy