A Pair of Double Agents!
If you're one of those readers who is forever fretting that ALL exciting adventures only happen in other, more exciting parts of the world…stop fussing.
Here's a mystery that is solved right here, in namma Bengaluru! The action in Monideepa Sahu's 'Riddle of the Seventh Stone' shifts between the crowded streets of Avenue Road, the Fort and even Karnataka's ultimate seat of power - the Vidhana Soudha!
Rishabh and Shashee are the very special investigators in this book. And, much like double agent James Bond, these two kids also lead a crazy double live. Except that, unlike Bond -- however exciting their escapades, the poor things still have to do their homework!
Rishabh and Shashee become friends with the orphaned twins, Deepak and Leela, who live with their old grandparents. And soon get drawn into an ugly tussle that's building up in the neighbourhood. Between the shop-keepers whose families have lived in the crowded lanes of Avenue Road for generations…and a greedy land-grabber, whom everyone calls the Shark. The twins along with double agents Rishabh and Shashee (who from now will be referred to as 'R&S') get into the act, mainly because grandfather Venkat's home and shop could also be lost to the Shark.
R&S soon realise that the Shark has loads and loads of money, and the two believe that only way they can defeat him is by finding a fortune for themselves. Now the thing about R&S is that being 'normal kids' is just a pretence… a transformation that occurred because of the magical effect of a copper plaque of a shrichakra in Thatha Venkat's shop. So Rishabh doubles up as a rat, at night, and Sheesha as a spider!
It's through his rodent brethren that Rishabh learns of an ancient rat myth about Kempe Gowda's hidden treasure.
And he decides to go find it. Unfortunately, the Shark too seems to know about it and is stalking the streets trying to unravel the cryptic clues recited in the rat rhyme. So it's a race between Rishabh and the Shark.
Evil and rich as the Shark is, he's up against not just R&S and the twins but also all their 'underworld' friends - the legions of cockroaches that live in the recesses of Bangalore's homes and gutters, the city's swarms of mosquitoes, flies and various other creepy-crawlies. Important news travels across the city at top speed through v-mail (vermin-mail!) on the WWW (wonderful wide web!).
Of course, the vermin are not invincible; in fact, the resident population in Thatha Venkat's residence are almost exterminated by Ajji's plans for pest control. But Leela saves them in time…with some well-practiced play-acting support from a talented cockroach. The book is spiced with all the masala of a thriller. There's a friendly but bumbling cop. There's a riot that's set off by the Shark to distract people from what he actually plans to do…i.e., kill off poor Rishabh.
There's a stampede which almost finishes off our half-rodent hero.
There's also a little bit of love, I must add! But sadly, it's all one-sided because poor diffident Rishabh, never gathers up the courage to speak up to his lady love! But most interesting is Rishabh's growing confidence, his determination to work hard, his fragile dream of becoming a doctor and how he overcomes his fears.
This is definitely a book worth buying.
It's got a racy pace and the action unfolds in our very own neighbourhood! I loved that. 'Riddle of the Seventh Stone' has been published by Young Zubaan and can even be ordered from the website: www.zubaanbooks.com.
And if you'd like to meet the creator of Rishabh and Shashee, step into Reliance Timeout on Cunningham Road, on Saturday, October 9th, at 5 pm for the book's launch. There's nothing like having a good book signed by the author.