Why are books written by eminent writers like Agatha Christie, Jeffrey Archer and Mary Higgins Clark always considered thrillers? It is not because of their lightness but owing to the capacity of these eminent authors to weave every sentence with such intensity while leaving many things for the reader to ponder that he/she will not be left with any other alternative but finish reading it at a stretch to quench their curiosity.
The tempo of suspense dwindles hardly till the end. No reference goes unanswered. You can fill every gaps and that too with logic. And, this definitely needs skill.
Does ‘That Frequent Visitor’ by Hari Kumar, that comes under the category of ‘Paranormal’, fits the bill. Let’s analyse it.
When the story opens, there is a huge protest going on in Delhi against the gruesome Delhi rape incident. Pakhi Dutta, whom the author calls as the most popular journalist of the country working for Manorama 24*7 is covering it. The author then introduces the character of Jagannatha Varma, the minister touted as the next Prime Minister of India. The story takes a turn when Pakhi Dutta’s brother Parosh Dutta gets an opportunity to write a biography of Jagannatha Varma.
Along with Parosh’s daughter Shiuli, they reach Tripunithura palace at Kochi. There, in a nearby island called Vypeen, they come across a haunted mansion. The mansion soon becomes the main venue where the significant incidents of the story takes place. The outsiders are not allowed after sunset on the island. But, the little girl Shiuli is often lured to the mansion where she gets acquainted with the ghost of Richard Baxter. Who is he and what is his story forms the crux of the book.
The book, of course, is readable. But, once the story unfurls, that particular trait which an author needs to make his/her reader glued to each page is seen wavering. It would not be wrong to say that the book has several attributes that could earn it the tag of a thriller, at the outset.
The prologue is intelligent. The story opens in a grand way. But, there are certain do’s and dont’s which the author forgets to take care of. Primarily, there are some references which will not go well with serious readers. A good book should always transfers you to another world. It happened here in the initial parts, but all of a sudden, the attempt by the author to give names to certain characters which have direct references to reality severs that beautiful feeling of being in a fictional world.
For instance, an explicit reference to Barkha Dutta (Pakhi Dutta), Manorama 24*7 (NDTV 24*7), Headlines Now (Times Now), Arunab Sardesai could be considered as spoilers of suspense.
It might not have been a problem with foreign readers but definitely not with a serious Indian reader.
Some dialogues such as ‘ Kizhakkeveetil Suresh Gopinathan....you can call me Suresh Gopi’; ‘You look just like my favourite actor, Thala! Very beautiful you are’ looks immature and of course, the author’s constant mentioning of his name and his first book ‘When strangers meet’ in the story could have been avoided.
Besides, when you make a reader run around so many incidents and many characters, she/he would find it difficult to comprehend. It seems that the author underestimated the reader and that’s why he spoon fed many things. That could have been avoided.
The story could have been much better if was tightly written omitting the unwanted. It is a readable story. But to impress a reader who is a hard core fan of mysteries, suspense and paranormal thrillers, the author should have put forth tremendous efforts.