Sunday, January 26, 2014

Sirens Spell Danger - A Review

The name is Bond - Jane Bond
 couple of years ago it was rumoured that there was a Bond movie coming out in which the Agent 007 was female. I certainly remember reading a number of articles about Halle Berry being considered for the coveted role. The news however died down as fast as it had caught fire.
Sirens Spell Danger, from the looks of it, promised something similar. That, and the thought of Halle Berry as Agent 007 spurred me to read these three stories - to check their credentials.
Femme Fatale 
- C Suresh
Femme Fatale is a rather filmy kind of story but nevertheless has some unforgettable characters. Vikram, who comes to Bangalore for a job interview, learns that he has successfully cleared the Indian Police Service. Naturally he throws caution to the wind and decides to celebrate with a drink. Being alone, he gets more than what he wishes for - he gets picked up by a sexy, beautiful and oozing-with-attitude siren who leaves behind her hotel room number. When he opens the door of the room, his dream of an amorous evening turns into a nightmare of murder, terror plots and close encounters with death.
While he is cursing the girl for throwing him between the devil and the deep sea, who should turn out to be his knight on a white steed but the very girl who had led him into the trap -Tanya. He has a hard time figuring out what exactly is going on, and she has an equally tough time saving his life by a whisker each time. The plot is completely Indian with politicians, intelligence officers and foreign terror experts each trying to outdo the other, using every pawn available to advance their game. The difference: the wannabe IPS officer is the damsel in distress who is airlifted out of danger time and again by Ninja Tanya.
The story is unique, the writing quite laudable. It keeps moving at the right pace. It is also imaginative, for example, how Vikram manages to extricate himself out of the ropes tying his hands and legs. Of course there are the regular cliches like when Vikram is locked up in a room, there just happens to be a wardrobe where he can hide in times of an emergency, and how, when he even gives himself up for dead, Tanya arrives like Batman in the nick of time.
In spite of everything the story is anything but boring. There is action, emotion, romance and thrill. Whether intentional or not, the story has twists and turns at regular intervals, and though you don’t keep gasping for more, you kind of enjoy the going while it is good. And it is good for most of the time.
 Bella Donna
-   Radha Sawana
Serial killers all have a pattern. So sayeth the Masters of Investigation from London to Mumbai and Washington DC to Mombasa.  Once the pattern is decoded, it is easy to nab the murderer.
Someone is murdering men who matter and they all seem to be walking into their graves without any coercion or force. There are no fingerprints, no traces of violence and injury and traces of cyanide but with no clue of how it entered their bodies. Who is leading them to their serene deaths?
Radha Sawana takes the reader through a roller coaster ride of the unexpected. With a plot that could leave even the veterans of whodunits guessing, she superbly pours murder, suspense, forensic science, herpetology, arachnology and human frailties into a test tube which releases a deadly tale. I have never read a murder mystery written by an Indian which has no loopholes, except this one. And what’s more, she has sprinkled a couple of sentences which actually give the reader a hint but unless one reads the prose with concentration, it can easily be missed.
The story also introduces some very strong and interesting characters - Inspector Shardul Reham who hates rains but braves them in the line of duty, Sub-Inspector Harsh Mehta whose meticulousness opens many a closed door, Rajinder Sharma the director of the State Forensic Laboratory who has devoted his entire life to criminal science and of course Detective Superintindent Ajay Rathore - the hard taskmaster who drives his deputies crazy till they get the results he wants. The involvement of the characters’ personal traits as well as their private lives takes the story to a completely different level. You can guess something about the killer even from this review, but if you haven’t figured out at least that one clue, it should be enough inspiration for you to sit down and read the story.
I have a doubt though - I have not heard of any position called Detective Inspector or Detective Superintindent in Indian Police. We have ranks like Commisioner of Police (Crime); Deputy Superintindent of Police (Crime) etc. So I wonder if this is a hangover of reading too many western crime novels. But it’s easily forgiven, because most of us have grown up with Frederick Forsyth, Jeffrey Archer, Sidney Sheldon, Agatha Christie, P D James, Mario Puzo and the father of all crime stories Arthur Conan Doyle. Do I need to say more?
 - Karthik L
Have you ever wondered why all secret agents chase beautiful girls? Maybe it has something to do with their job. They are never in one place, so they can never marry and ‘settle’ down as they say. Like the number 13 which is lucky for some and unlucky for some, most people believe secret agents are lucky because they can travel business class, taste the best wines and live in the swankiest of hotels but the agents themselves (after the honeymoon period) think they are unlucky because they have to avoid bullets, squeeze through sewage tunnels and crawl under barbed wire fences. Taken separately, one can perhaps go through the rigor but the task is difficult because the locales change instantly. Now you are sipping alcohol in a plush seat at 33,000 feet; now you are trying to escape 25 people running behind you with swords to cut you down. Is it any surprise if they fall for feminine guiles when not on duty?

Except for the fact that a secret agent is never off-duty. Karthik L picks up an IB agent Jay who is sitting in the sun on a Goan beach ogling at bikini-clad women through his goggles. His boss in Delhi throws at him the mantle of looking for a missing (read: dead) CBI agent and “something” that is going to happen on the night of the 25th with the connivance of the ISI. With this truckload of information, he travels by plane to Bangalore and from there by train to Bellary.

He meets a beautiful woman in the plane and another one in the train and falls for both. He becomes suspicious when after meeting the women, he has to fight with goons who are trying to act smart. However the second encounter lands him in jail, with the woman leaving him stranded.

When he had just about accepted that it was impossible to avert whatever “something” was going to happen on the 25th, things start rolling and he finds himself in the midst of a political-cum-religious juggernaut, with the powerful deity of Bellary, Balla, baying for Jay’s blood. From here the story turns to the supernatural and how Jay faces the wrath of Balla.

From the beginning, the writer establishes that Jay is no James Bond. But he works meticulously, keeps himself fit and ready for any eventuality. He does not wilt under pressure and over the years he has built up a reputation for himself in his department. A well crafted character. 

The climax is a bit of a let-down. So much hype is created around Balla but everything happens in the background and the reader can only have second-hand experience through sounds and light effects. The writer shies from bringing Balla out into the open and endowing him with some kind of superpower which Jay cannot match. That would have made the duel more interesting.

The language is simple and fluid. There are enough hurdles thrown in the path of Jay and it is interesting to read how he comes out a winner.

One thing common about these stories, apart from the women involved, is that none of the male protagonists performs any extraordinarily heroic feats. Even the fights described are realistic and the hero is in as much pain as the victims after the fight.

Sirens Spell Danger, true to its title, has in its stories women as the cause of the troubles faced by the protagonist. However, it is only in Bella Donna that the female character is in the driver’s seat. For the other two, the women characters are strong but the climactic portions show the men taking centrestage.

I want to mention the cover page, which is quite symbolic. A red-saree clad woman hiding a bloody knife behind her, as she overlooks a busy flyover of a city with the red siren of the law caught in a web of traffic. Kudos to the designer, whose name will always be where very few will read it.

Well, I enjoyed the book. Though it did not provide me with my anticipated Jane Bond, it did give me three extremely entertaining stories.

Come to think of it, if I was a producer, I’d cast Abhay Deol as Vikram and Deepika (can’t help, she’s my favourite) in Femme Fatale, again Abhay Deol as Inspector Shardul in Bella Donna with Pariniti Chopra in a special appearance and in Bellary I would opt for Farhan Akhtar with Vidya Balan and Kalki Koechlin.

If I ever were to meet Suresh, Radha or Karthik, I would like to ask them one question – doesn’t the idea of Jane Bond excite you? 

Sirens Spell Danger 
C.Suresh, Radha Sawana & Karthik L

The Blurb

There are sirens and, then, there are sirens. Some warn you of danger and some lure you into danger...Lured by a sexy siren, Vicky is mistaken for a secret agent, kidnapped, tortured and slated for death. Will he survive and save Bangalore from going up in flames?...There is a serial killer loose in the city leaving mysterious messages around the bodies of the victims. Are the messages a challenge to the police or a siren call to lure another victim...Jay is sent to Bellary to investigate a possible ISI plot. Was it merely a murky political plot or was there something more sinister in the offing? And why were two women suddenly singing siren songs of love?...Three tales of nerve-racking suspense and pulse-pounding action.

Buy it @

Meet the Authors

C. Suresh
(Femme Fatale)

Fiction has been an addiction but the need to make a living took Suresh through Chemical Engineering and an MBA at IIM-Bangalore and, from thence, to a long 16 year stint in the area of finance with specific expertise in fertilizer subsidies and a further two years as consulting expert in the same area. That, in his words, about sums up the boring part of his life, except for the people he was privileged to meet.

Otherwise, he can be described as a mess of contradictions – a bookworm but avid trekker; alone but never lonely; enjoys solitude but loves company; lazy but a perfectionist, the litany is endless. Trekking, which side-tracked him from the writing for which he quit his job, is a major passion and he does, at least, one trek in the Himalayas every year in addition to numerous local treks.

He reignited his passion for writing with a fairly popular blog and, currently, also has a short story – A Path of Thorns - published in a collection “Uff Ye Emotions”. His short stories The Gates of Hell and Yesterdays and Tomorrows have won contests. You can read a sampling of his fiction here.

Stalk him @

Radha Sawana
(Bella Donna)

Radha Sawana is part secretive, part playful, part ambitious, part indolent, and as a result, completely confused. She has been a bookworm as far as she can remember, and so it came as no surprise to her when suddenly the thought of starting her own blog occurred her. Thus, in the 4th year of her education in BITS Pilani, she started her blog ‘Entropy’, the name paying homage to her subject of specialization – chemistry. 

Entropy began with the random thoughts of her mind and before she realized it, she had started writing short stories too. Her first stories – The Late Goodbye and 48 Hours – were widely loved. Her personal favourite on her blog is her still untitled collection of three short pieces called Harakiri, Saisei and Wind. She is currently writing a seven-part story called Seven. 

Stalk her @


Karthik L

Karthik, a management consultant by profession, has always had fondness for stories from his early childhood when he used to keenly listen to stories told by his grandfather. Over the next twenty five years, he has been voraciously consuming fiction starting with Enid Blyton and moving on to Arthur Conan Doyle and then Isaac Asimov. One fine day he decided he had heard enough stories and he start telling them instead and so he started his blog ‘Lucifer House Inc.’ in 2008. He has been continuously been striving to entertain his readers through his blog posts over 5 years, winning some blogger awards as well in the process. The blog has a Google page rank of 3 and figures in the Top Indian blogs directory.

Do click on these links to check out some of his short stories.

One of his stories ‘Nootropic Egress’ won the best story award under science fiction category in a story telling contests and was published in multi genre anthology ‘Ten Shades of Life’. He has recently started another blog ‘Three Realms of the Mind’ to share his passion for his three favorite fiction genres – science fiction, fantasy and historic fiction with the rest of the world. He dreams of being a bestselling author in one of these genres. Last but not the least, he shares alma maters (IIT and IIM) with some of the most popular contemporary Indian authors and hopes he can share their success in garnering readers as well.
You can Stalk him @


Blog Tour Schedule

(19th Jan- 25th Jan 2014)

19th January '14
Sonia Rao (Spotlight)

19th January '14
Rubina Ramesh (Spotlight/ Review)
The Book Club

20th January '14
Janaki Nagaraj (Review)
Memoirs of A Homemaker

21 st January '14
Byrappa (Spotlight)
Byrappa's Notes

21st January '14
Flaming Sun

22nd January '14
Sridevi Datta (Spotlight)
The Write Journey

22nd January '14
Jaibala Rao (Spotlight / Interview/ Review)
My School of Thoughts

23rd January '14
Sumeetha Manikandan (Review / Interview)
Book Reviews by Sumi

24th January '14
From the Heart - Neel

25th January '14 (Review)
Dola Basu Singh

25th January '14 (Interview)
The Tales Pensieve


The Book Club said...

This is one of the Best reviews I have read of Siren Spells Danger.. Jane Bond ? Now that is a thought. Lovely review Neelesh.

C Suresh said...

Wow! That was one detailed review. Thanks

adite said...

Jane Bond! That's a fantastic way to hook your readers. Enjoyed your review, Neelesh! :)

Ruchi Vasudeva said...

A review which is as much entertaining to read as a book. Jane Bond really took the cake! And the way you always cast the actors as the characters gives a new aspect to book reading. Kudos, very well written, Neelesh.

Dola said...

Reading your review felt like I was reading the book itself. Wonderful :)

From the heart-need said...

A big thanks to Rubina and the WRIMO group without which I would not be doing this. And thanks to Suresh, Adite, Ruchi, Dola for all the encouragement.

Unknown said...

A very good review.

Sundari Venkatraman said...

I have to say - no offence meant to anyone - that I enjoyed reading your review more than I did the book. In fact, it makes the book appear fantastically interesting. :)

From the heart-need said...

Thank you Sundari and Janaki.

Rickie said...

That was a really meticulous and entertaining review. I am very tempted to share my novella with you simply to read your impressions of it!