“An engaging thriller has the suspense quotient intact and unchanged from beginning to end.”
—Agatha Christie, in an interview to BBC in 1967
Had I been a producer with a truckload of moolah, I’d have approached Troy Ribeiro and bought his pulsating thriller to turn it into a film or a TV serial. Yes, I’m as sure as eggs about its successful cinematic or screen adaptation. The author himself has said that he had a nebulous idea of screening this brilliant thriller on his mind. Having said that, let me get down to brass tacks.
Popular thrillers hinge on a common and unwavering rule or a sine qua non: Never for a moment the plot should meander into unnecessary details and fringe instances. Thrillers demand intense attention of the readers. That ‘ab kyo hoga’ (what next?) feeling must never wane till the book/flick ends.
On this score, Troy’s Samina gets full marks. The fate of Samina is the crux of this thriller. What has befallen her keeps the readers’ curiosity alive till s/he finishes the unputdownable book. The author hasn’t incorporated outlandish characters and ideas to divert the attention of the readers. You don’t find a raft of characters and sub-plots crowding the book, thus diluting the plot.
Alfred Hitchcock once told his biographer Edwin Mosley that, “In an absorbing thriller, a sanguinary and singular assumption is the key.” Troy Rebeiro has followed the Hitchcockian mantra in toto. Assuming Samina is murdered, the novel commences with her Kolkata-based dad Abdul Rehman searching for his daughter’s killer.
‘The ingrained simultaneous curiosity’ (TISC) eggs the readers on to feel curious as to why Samina wrote to her father that if anything untoward happens to her, he must hold a tourist guide Irfan Patel responsible for her death. Mind you, this is not a diversion, but integral to the whole mystery.
As I’ve already stated, there’s no redundancy in Troy’s Samina. His thriller has an uncanny quality to involve, invoke and immerse his readers. On the flip side, bringing in honour killing is something that could have been averted. Agreed, it’s very much inveterate in Indian psyche and society, but to cater to an international crowd and audience, a rooted shibboleth or a trend needs to be ignored. Thankfully, Troy hasn’t dwelt upon it.
The author deserves a pat from the thriller-exponents John Grisham, Lee Child and John Le Carre. To encapsulate, Samina will be loved by those who love to get goosebumps while reading and watching a thriller. Apropos, the Arabic word Samina generally connotes ‘generous’, ‘precious’, ‘fertile’, ‘a healthy girl’, etc. But, according to Abu Uzma’s old and early Arabic lexicon, Lughat-e-Baharaan, written in the 10th century, Samina also means ‘a mysterious woman’. I’m looking forward to watching the suspense-drama on the celluloid. So are the readers, I can bet.
Author: Troy Ribeiro
Publisher: Notion Press
Price: Rs 250