Book Review by Nirmala Garimella
This book caught my attention while browsing in my local library. It stood out in the shelf under books recommended by the staff. As we all do, I browsed through the book jacket for the story and found it to be a tale of espionage and suspense.
The book is a researched historical novel set in India during World War II. The protagonists in the story are an Indian nationalist , Subhas Chandra Bose, a professional card cheat Derek Carr, a ruthless German Officer, Rutger Kordt and a beautiful Anglo Indian woman Ashley Vora who must make a choice of two worlds offered to her. The British intelligence in India is baffled by a mysterious German operation called China Blue that is going to take place in India. To solve this mystery, they seek the help of a card cheat Derek Carr who turns up in Bombay and suddenly finds himself caught between his loyalty to the British and the beautiful woman Ashley Vora, a Bose sympathizer with whom he falls in love. The German operation .is headed by a ruthless German scholar Rutger Kordt who has spent many years in India studying ancient ruins, translating the Ramayana in German and is fascinated with the mysticism of holy ascetics. The plan is skilful and dangerous and the author does well in building up the suspense while succeeding in depicting the actual events.
As the historical prologue states at the beginning of the book, 'the novel is based upon certain real events that occurred between 1941 and 1944'. In 1941 Bose escapes from Calcutta where he is awaiting trial for sedition and makes his way to Kabul and then to Berlin. The Germans help him to reach Singapore by a U boat where he raises an army of 60,000 POW's and joins the Japanese in the invasion of India to overthrow the British.
Subhas Chandra Bose is portrayed as an Indian fanatic who connives with the Germans to plan his entry via Assam into India and his blind optimism is conveyed when he tells the German admiral "There are two million Indian Nationals in Burma and Malaya from which to draw manpower. Apart from this source, sixty thousand Indian troops were surrendered to the Japanese by the British Garrison on Singapore Island What are they now except slaves rotting in prison camps on behalf of their British masters. Give them the key to their freedom and they soon will be persuaded to fit in the lock."
So does operation China Blue takes off as planned ? Or will the forces of the British able to thwart it. Read the book to find out. As for myself, although the novel has the action, passion and intrigue of a thriller, I enlightened my knowledge of an obscure aspect of history that is generally not told with detail and the role of Bose in the Indian Independence movement. Personally the book did not hold my attention since it was not my favorite genre, but to all those interested in spy and espionage thrillers, this would be a good bet.
Maynard Allington is also the author of another thriller, The Grey Wolf.
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