Unchecked cases of drinking-and-driving is the theme of this maiden novel of an expat Indian writer who has expressed his sharp concern over the menace which claimed the life of his 20-month-old nephew.
Former Mumbai-based Nigel Fernandes, who had been in New Zealand and is now back in Goa, has just authored Consequences (Goa,1556/Rs.200), a 214-page thriller that deals with this deadly scourge that today afflicts many parts of India.
Significantly, the 37-year-old writer has also dedicated the book to his "nephew Jared Tristan D'Souza, killed by a reckless motorist" when just 20 months old.
The quick-paced thriller, which he took eight months to write, is set in cosmopolitan Mumbai and has a mix of affluent characters who seem to inhabit quite another world in India's commercial capital.
We also meet family doctors of the rich and the famous. As the scene shifts to a hospital, one gets the essence of the city nurse who tries hard to please the patient and the skilled doctors overcautious about the VVIP they treat. Mumbai's police - both local and from elsewhere - are featured, as is the media, struggling to cope with the unpredicatable news-appetites of the bustling "city that never sleeps".
The novel begins in a Mumbai nightclub where an accused in a previous drink-and-driving case is found dead, with drugs initially being suspected. The action shifts to the Worli Seaface, where another person involved in a similar case is targeted by a paid killer while going for his morning jog. Bystanders take it to be a road accident, though. Then the bodyguard of a prominent Bollywood star finds him unconscious after an accident in his gym.
Such incidents keep repeating, till threatening calls make it clear that there's a pattern to it all.
The reader is left wondering what will happen next, and, more importantly, what is the motive of those behind these crimes, and what those who commit them hope to achieve. The trail of "accidents" and killings continues to a luxury hotel in Goa and even the plush ward where the film star is admitted to recover.
But let's not spoil the suspense to the final denouement.
The novel takes one from Bandra to the Worli Seaface, Central Mumbai, the police HQ, Colaba and other popular landmarks of "the city which never sleeps".
Fernandes was born and educated in Mumbai. He has lived in New Zealand for six years, completed his MBA from the Auckland University of Technology and is a marketing and media specialist. Currently in Goa, when he is not writing, he is involved in promoting windsurfing.
While in New Zealand, Fernandes worked for Sony and for the Auckland City Council.
(10.07.2013 - Frederick Noronha can be contacted email@example.com)
--IANS (Posted on 10-07-2013)