Hungry Gods by Richa Lakhera is the author’s third book. She has earlier penned down ‘Item Girl’, a crime novel and ‘Garbage Beat’, a satire on the Indian entertainment industry.
The tagline of Hungry Gods is ‘Drugs. Sex Cults. A horrific crime. An unthinkable revenge’. True to its tagline this is a crime thriller presented in an extremely raw and gory manner. The plot of the story is as gruesome as it can get. Child abuse, rape, murder, violent sex, prostitution and drug abuse paint the pages of this book red. If you are someone who likes a feel-good book, then this is not your cup of tea.
The opening scene of the book hits you hard. You open the book to a brutal gang rape and murder of a mother being helplessly watched by his little son secretively. He runs for his life to come back later with a plan in place to avenge his mother. The journey forward reveals the crude dark side of the corporate world and the world of glamour.
The story revolves around Medici, a pharmaceutical giant accused by the media of manufacturing banned drugs and over-priced drugs. The company has a show in place ‘Healers’ with a mission to clean up its image. Dinesh Thackeray is the Director of this show. Valentine is the superstar brand ambassador of Medici who is a lover of sexual fantasies. Ranganathan, the Head of Legal Affairs of Medici and Valentine are at constant loggerheads. Rathi, Dinesh’s daughter is the current lover of Valentine. Kimmy White, a struggling actor is the ex-lover of Valentine. She is also the second wife of Dinesh Thackeray and step-mother to Rathi. Este is a prostitute but has an aura of mystery surrounding her. Gouda and Silva are the two policemen trying to solve this puzzle of multiple murders.
Richa has weaved an awesome plot with violence and abuse in a manner fairly new to the Indian audience. She has a good command of language and has a flair with words. The characters are given their unique characteristics aptly.
The sad part is to see such an awesome plot fizzle away. The author has concentrated on the use of heavy words rather than a seamless flow through the scenes. Depth is what the story lacks. Loopholes in a crime thriller is a dampener for the reader. Sadly, this book has a couple of loopholes. For ex, after the fire accident at Dinesh’s office, the police are unclear whether Dinesh was at his office or not. What happened to the CCTV footage? The CCTV captures the image of a man standing outside Dinesh’s office but fails to capture the presence of Dinesh Thackeray himself in the office. Thackeray is reported missing but eventually found in the forest behind his studio. How come the adjacent areas surrounding his studio were not searched in the entire week that he was reported missing? There was a fire at his office. In such an eventuality people may jump out of the building.
The weaknesses of the book are overshadowed by the writer’s brilliant writing style. Though this book is a work of fiction, you cannot help but wonder if it is inspired by real life. This is a short read of 200 pages. If you like crime thrillers you can give this book a go.