Book review indian authors

#BookReview: BOMBAY FEVER: Medical Thriller by Sidin Vadukut

On the jacket:

In the bestselling tradition of Richard Preston’s now-classic medical thriller The Hot Zone and reminiscent of the blockbuster films Outbreak and Contagion, a fast-paced, page-turning thriller set in India about a deadly disease and the heroic efforts to contain the plague before it’s too late…

In the courtyard of a Hindu temple in Switzerland, a woman collapses in the arms of a visiting Indian journalist, her body reduced to a puddle of blood. Never before has anyone seen anything like this. Three months later, all over Mumbai, men, women and children are ravaged by a disease that begins with initially mild symptoms—that swiftly progress until an ultimately gruesome death. Who will it hit next? And where did it come from?

As the rogue microbe wreaks its bloody havoc—striking rich and poor, young and old—chaos ensues. Thousands try to flee the city, including the most powerful man in the country. Can this deadly plague be stopped? After all, all that stands between the city and apocalypse is a ragged team of doctors, civil servants, and scientists. But their intervention may be too little, too late.

Suspenseful and gripping from the first page to the last, Bombay Fever is a meticulously researched novel—too plausible to ignore and too chilling to put down—from one of India’s most talented writers.


The last time I’d read medical thrillers was when I was going through a Robin Cooki phase in my teens. After some time, I’d stopped reading those and never picked another medical thriller. The reason was simple, most of the things were too out of my radar and took a lot of my attention to enjoy the book, however gripping the plot was.
While I’ve written Sidin’s work before, this was unchartered territory, that too something as serious as medical thriller. But I know him to be a funny guy, on twitter and in his books. With mixed emotions, and a lot of curiosity, I picked up the book.
And ever since I have been done reading, I have been petrified. Because what the story talks about is not far-fetched or unimaginable. Language is simple and not a brain-racker for those who are not deep into science or medical languages. The plot is one dimensional, easy to follow and what I love about stories – right from page one, I could imagine the story, as if a reel is playing in my mind.
And, the plot is gripping. It begins at Switzerland, with a character who is a journalist, who meets a student-part time worker, there is a Hindu temple and a death. The dead body is nothing but blood and with the journalist, some unknown virus comes to India. Similar deaths keep happening here while the virus spreads. True to Sidin’s signature style, humour was not missing in this story.
If I have to critique the story, there was one thing I was unhappy with. It is a very common habit amongst Indian authors where they take common brand names, this the name a bit and use that name. Why don’t we create new names instead? Wish the politician’s surname was something an existing commonly known politician didn’t share. There is no dearth of surnames in India, and one always has the liberty to create new names!
Fast paced and gripping, the plot’s integral character as the title suggests, is Bombay. While the epidemic spreads in the story, my heart too paced at a high speed – curious about what lay next, and worried about what if this actually happens. Politics, journalism, media and history – Sidin has included them all in the plot cleverly.
While I can say I loved the book, and you all must read it if you love fast paced thrillers, I’ll tell you what I actually felt. Reading Bombay Fever made me happy that I could read a medical thriller without feeling stupid. It also made me happy that a well-written medical thriller was based on an India metro city. And it made me very happy that an Indian author made me remember Forsyth and Cook.
Rating: ****/5

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