I have been devouring a lot of thrillers lately so I thought why not try an Indian suspense novel this time. I picked author Sunil Khamkar’s debut novel, 8: The Game Is On because the back cover read something like this-
1 ship; 2 deaths; 3 cops; 400 murders; 500 years; 60 days; 7 countries; 8 artefacts – Let the adventure begin!
These lines got me super excited and I knew this book had to be mine. As described above, the story revolves around three cops who are trying to uncover a crime and solve an old mystery. The book is a quick read as I started reading this in the morning and finished by afternoon. And here is what I felt about it.
8: The Game Is On by Swapnil Khamkar
Publisher: Srishti Publishers & Distributors
Neel is a cop investigating the mysterious death of a famous film director. In the middle of a divorce case with his wife Avantika and amidst thoughts of resigning from his job, will he be able to find the culprit?
A five-hundred-year-old sunken ship belonging to Vasco da Gama is discovered off the coast in Oman. It is well known that the ship sank with thousands of artefacts in it. Out of them, eight artefacts are missing in specific. Do they have some connection with the film director’s death?
Neel tries to unearth the truth behind the missing artefacts to find clues to questions nobody else can answer. Join Neel as he tries to find the truth behind 8!
(Description as on the back cover)
I LIKE 8: The Game Is On Because,
…I felt that the premise was good. The writer surely must have done a lot of research on the Esmeralda tragedy to weave his story around it.
…the writing is fast-paced and a good attempt for a debut novel. The writer shows a lot of promise and I hope he pens a more interesting novel next time.
I Do NOT Like 8: The Game Is On Because,
…I felt disconnected from the story as the writing did not flow smoothly. It starts with a murder and as Neel starts investigating the murder, he is suddenly pulled off the case and put on another high profile case. And all the while he continues to pine over his estranged wife. I think if the two cases had to be linked it could have been done in the course of the investigation which would have given a better flow to the narration. But the writer chose to tentatively ignore the murder case and start another case only to have them coincide later in the book. Choppy!
…the book felt more like a wannabe movie script than a novel. I am saying this because it lacked the seriousness that murder mysteries usually have. For me, the character Jay did not add to the story. I guess he was supposed to bring some comic relief but sadly I wasn’t amused as his antics fell flat for me and I found him annoying.
…for me, the biggest flaw in the book was Neel and Avantika’s love story. I seek romance in almost all my books and easily fall in love with the lead couple. But I hated Neel and Avantika’s story only because I was never convinced of it. For instance, Neel sees Avantika for the first time in a ‘red’ sari at work. Now I am not sure of how female investigators dress at work but I do not think a lady would choose to wear a bold red colour for her first day at work. After working together for a few days, Neel proposes Avantika for MARRIAGE! Seriously? They don’t even date and he asks her for marriage. And she readily accepts it. If that wasn’t enough then Neel’s senior, Raghu and co-worker Jay even present them gifts on the successful proposal. Sorry, but this was too much to believe. Also, in the middle of the story, both the cases are side-lined and the writer focuses on Neel and Avantika’s love story. Ugh!! I appreciate good romance in a thriller but not at the cost of the main plot. Also, even though Avantika is also a cop, I hardly saw her help with the case. All I saw her do was sit beside Neel, make some coffee and console him whenever he felt low. Why is she even on the case? And why is everyone treating the visit to Oman as a free honeymoon trip for Neel and Avantika?
…I felt that the writing could be better. Some sentenced felt disjointed and contradictory. For instance,
They went to bed and made love before falling into a long blissful sleep.
Neel got up in the middle of the night. He got up and drank some water. He then took out the map with the markings. After glancing at it for a while, he kept it aside.
He first falls into a ‘long’ sleep and then wakes up in the middle of the night? How is it a long sleep then?
The next day was to be long and they needed ample rest. Neel was visualising everything about the case when Avantika suddenly appeared in his mind. When they reached the house, Neel made his way directly to the bedroom as he had unfinished work to do.
Such redundant sentences made it difficult for me to want to go on further.
Final View: I am a little disappointed with this book as it did not excite me the way thrillers generally do. But it is still a good attempt by author Swapnil Khamkar for a debut novel. Hope I like his next novel better than this one.
This book is a review copy but the opinion in this post is unbiased and 108% my own.
You can check out Amazon.in for a discount on this book.