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Less A Key, More A Puzzle : Review of The Krishna Key

Keys open a door for us or it unlocks some treasure to us. Puzzles are an art unto itself. They are solved for the solving of it. It may or may not lead to anything further. 

The Krishna Key is abundant with puzzles to solve. But the key may not be a key per se. But it is certainly a thriller worth one read. 

Before starting to read the book, it will certainly do well to just forget the comparisons of Ashwin Sanghi, the author of three mythological thrillers including the latest The Krishna Key, with Dan Brown. Coming with this kind of notions overshadows the actual reading experience.

Being a thriller, the book is all about chasing and finding the criminal, whom we, as reader, already know. As it is a mythological thriller, there is also an ancient secret to be revealed. And again for the same reason, the hero of the thriller must be an academic, in this case an historian, who can share the ancient knowledge or the explanation thereof. 

Ravi Mohan Saini, the historian, is an expert in the area of Krishna research and is trying to establish Krishna as a historical existence. He has friends and acquaintances working in related scientific fields leading towards the same goal. He is accused of murdering one of these friends and he had to go on the run with one of his female students to find the truth of the murders and also the motive behind it. He is chased by the police all over the country as he go on exploring the religious sites of the country unearthing the secrets. On the other end, the preparator of the violence is one who believes himself to be an incarnation of God, trying to right the wrongs done against the religion. The preparator has being trained and is led by some sort of a Spiritual Guru, who in turn is working for an underworld Don. There are honest cops and crook ones too. We have everything to set up a thrilling thriller, sorry mythological thriller. 
The story starts with a brief narration from Krishna describing the beginning of the Kaurava dynasty. Each section of the present day story is preceded by a narration of Krishna's life story in his own voice. This I found quite engaging a way. Reading the divine narration right before today's version where someone is trying to establish the same Narrator as a historical presence is a great touch. And I was hoping that at some point both this tracks will merge into one, which sadly does not happen. 
The chase is thrilling, the puzzles are puzzling enough. Narration is sleek. There are few nice twists. But somewhere, something is greatly missing. I can put this disappointment under two heads.
First as a thriller, the story uses certain flimsy reasons and a downright implausible motive. Especially, the anagram plot points are just unbelievable by any stretch; little more thought behind them would have been much appreciated. Secondly, the motive of the Don behind looking for the "Krishna Key" is mentioned in the passing and seems almost like an after thought and also that not much thought has gone into it. This becomes even more jarring because the Don was one of the two characters in the novel who had a detailed back story. There was the space to integrate the motive into this back story rather than cursorily mentioning it. Certainly, the motive is not well founded.
Secondly, a mythological thriller comes with the promise that at the end of the chase, the reader will be party to a great secret, one that is hidden for centuries: whether it is Jesus' offspring (The Da Vinci Code) or Columbus being a Jew and bringing to and hiding the Temple Treasure in the New World (The Columbus Affair). The story fails us on this count. The arguments for Krishna being a historical presence is all very well. But the plot hinges on the existence of the Krishna Key and this is what everyone is racing after in this thriller. As a reader, I was waiting to know the truth of the Key. But with all the philosophizing at the end, I, with regret, find that the Key turns out as a MacGuffin. And though MacGuffin has proven quite effective in many a thrillers, but in a mythological thriller, the main mythological element being a MacGuffin was a big let down. 

Book Details
Book: The Krishna Key
Author: Ashwin Sanghi
Publisher: Westland
Price: Rs 250
Pages: 464

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