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Book Reviews

Updated on: Saturday, December 25, 2021, 09:32 PM IST

Dakhma review: Author K. Hari Kumar's new offering is a bone-chilling mystery

The chill matches the weather at this time of the year
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Books with traces of thriller, horror and suspense undoubtedly are the perfect cocktail for a late-night reading binge. Author K. Hari Kumar’s latest offering Dakhma is a remarkable amalgamation of the said genres that thrill your brain out. Despite being classified as a suspense thriller, the overwhelming horror element shrouds the book, thus making it a compelling read.

You meet a young and good-looking couple, Varun and Anahita, from Gurugram. Ambitious Varun left a cushy job to start his venture of being a PR strategist to political parties. His Delhi success bags him another high-profile client in Maharashtra, Dayanand Deshmukh, AKA Bhau, of the Maharashtra Nationalist Party. With the backing of his investor, Mr Desai, Varun relocates temporarily to Mumbai with Anahita. While they settle in one of Bhau's flats — 7E in Paradise Heights in Malabar Hills, we are privy to Anahita’s mental health and her dynamics with Varun. In Mumbai, she starts getting disturbed by a woman’s spectre. She finds out about the previous tenant, Parizaad, who died mysteriously. The resulting story entangles the lives of the couple and others. Things change forever.

The thrill in the thriller merged with horror begins quickly. Initially, there are hints of melodrama. But it is a precursor to the engaging drama about to unfold. Kumar does not stretch the narration. The ‘what next?’ factor is intense. While the narration switches between the past and present, it does not puzzle you at any point. With the story moving at F1 rate, the book’s compactness is its forte. While you look out for Anahita and the things unfold around her, you also see Varun handle a client who might be tougher than he imagined. Like an onion, layers of mysteries peel off. The past has a way of encroaching on the present like no other. The finale will be a revelation.

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Going beyond the usual, you are also introduced to the unassuming, but the highly successful and rapidly diminishing Parsi community and an unknown part of their faith. For the uninitiated, Dakhma is the tower of silence located on hills. In the case of Mumbai, it is surrounded by dense trees near Malabar Hill. This funeral tower is where Parsis lay their dead to rest as per their customs. The faith is against the desecration of the elements of fire or earth. Hence, the dead are left in these towers where carrion birds like vultures devour the body.

Kumar speaks of the threats facing the vultures, environment and the Parsi community in this sensitive story. We also get a glimpse of how the powerful manipulate lives for their gains. Kumar’s smooth manner of telling this engaging story is brilliant. K. Hari Kumar’s Dakhma offers thoughts to contemplate even after you enjoy reading the book. The chill matches the weather at this time of the year.

Title: Dakhma

Author: K. Hari Kumar

Publisher: HarperCollins India

Pages: 280

Price: Rs 299

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Published on: Sunday, December 26, 2021, 07:00 AM IST
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