7 August 2017

Review #634: Bite of the Black Dogs by Sanjay Bahadur

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“Patriotism is supporting your country all the time and your government when it deserves it.”

----Mark Twain

Sanjay Bahadur, an India author, pens a terrific, nail biting and gripping real-life special operations of Indian Special Forces book based on a true story, and it is called, Bite of the Black Dogs that is set across the idyllic yet challenging landscape of Kashmir, India, where an Indian special force group is assigned to eradicate and extract the terrorists and the alleged killers of Kashmiri Pandits (Hindus settled in Kashmir) belonging from the infamous militant group of Hizbul Mujahideen ("Party of Muslim Holy Warriors") who are funded and supported by various countries and various states of India. This real life account of the militants as well as the special task force men, who would do anything for their countrymen.


Kashmir, 1997.

A group of deadly terrorists from the notorious Hizbul Mujahideen has infiltrated the Indian border from Pakistan. Their mission: to transfer funds for a massive terror strike on Mumbai. It is a mission they plan to execute at all costs - even as India's intelligence network begins its intricate manoeuvres to capture and eliminate them.

When Judy Brooke, an attaché with the UN Military Observation Group in India and Pakistan, arrives at the remote village of Kandi in Kashmir with her assistant, she has no idea about the nightmare that awaits them. Taken hostage by the insurgents, their only hope of survival is Major Vyom Pokhriyal - Veep to his fellow soldiers - and his trusted Black Dogs, a small team of high-altitude warfare commandos based at the foothills of the rugged Pir Panjal Range.

As a dangerous game of cat and mouse begins, at stake are innocent lives, political alliances and a conspiracy that can shake the foundations of the nation..

After a challenging mission in which he successfully captured a notorious militant from the Hizbul Mujahideen group, Major Vyom Pokhriyal, a. k. a, Veep, wants to relax for his birthday weekend. But being a Black Dog, a special task force commando, on a mission to extract the militants and insurgents responsible for killing the Kashmiri Hindus, he can never take a break, and fatefully, he meets a female UN volunteer named, Judy who along with her assistant, Gus, who are planning to travel to a remote Kashmiri village in Kandi to meet the farmers. Instantly, Veep and his partner are summoned by their captain to follow and extract a group of terrorists, who are planning an attack on Mumbai and so they will be hiding somewhere in Kandi to transfer funds and weapons. And little did Veep and his partner had any idea, that this mission would take a heavy toll on him and would cost him his sanity and everything.

Inspired from real life mission where the special task force commandos extracted the militants from a remote village in Kandi by overcoming deathly challenges and under difficult weather conditions, this book is a tribute to those brave and fearless heroes who fought and still fight gallantry in the name of patriotism to protect their motherland from terror groups, and never once think about the protection about their own lives. In short, heroes who risk it all in the name of patriotism and love for the country. And it was my honor to read such a book by an author, who has done his research well and has got a really strong writing style. The book will enthrall as well as intrigue and will constantly shock the readers on its intensity and the ugly behind-the-scenes truth that the readers hardly get to read in any newspaper. This is a page-turning and extremely absorbing book, that every other Indian in this country should read.

The author's writing style is articulate and very lucid enough to comprehend easily with the story line. Not only that, the plot is laced with edgy suspense and gripping tension, that will keep the readers glued into the pages of this book. The alternative narratives are highly engaging and very realistically penned. The chapters alternate between two main characters, and some supporting characters, and each chapter will evoke and arise apprehension in the hearts of the readers. The pacing is really fast, as the chapters are penned with enough depth and vividness, yet somehow this aniticpative plot will breeze past by the readers in no time.

The backdrop of Kashmir is very vividly depicted in to the book by the author. Especially for those readers who have not yet got a chance to visit the paradise on planet Earth and also for those who have visited this land, will find it extremely picturesque and horrifying both at the same time, as the snow covered hilly and mountainous terrains with caves and forests turn out to be perfect hiding spots for militants and how those spots can be so deadly. The essence of Kashmir and its landscape is strikingly portrayed by the author, and so its rugged terrains, where common man barely walk on those.

The characters in the book are portrayed with enough realism and flaws in their demeanor that make them very much relatable in the eyes of the readers. The primary character, Veep, is an extremely genuine character whose bravery, patriotism, intelligence and heroism, make him one hell of a commando who will risk his life in the blink of an eye for his country. Even his demeanor speaks of a true patriot of how he follows orders blindly, and how much mechanical he has become by sacrificing his soul for the country's protection. The secondary characters are also tastefully depicted and very much well developed. One short flaw would be that all of the characters lacked depth thoroughly, but then again, this isn't a character-driven book, and the focus entirely remains on the engrossing story line.

In a nutshell, this is a brilliant real-life portrayal of those unnamed and untold missions for which some audacious men give up their whole life fighting for it, in order to protect the country and its citizens from thoughtless and gruesome terrorists.

Verdict: A riveting real life special task force operations against anti-terrorism and militants activities in India.

Courtesy: Thanks to the publishers from Hachette India for giving me an opportunity to read and review this book.

Author Info:
Sanjay Bahadur’s debut novel, The Sound of Water, was longlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize and has been published in the US and in Italy. His second novel, HUL: Cry Rebel, was published in 2013. Sanjay is an officer of Indian Revenue Service (IRS) and is presently the Commissioner of Income Tax in Mumbai. His latest release Bite of the Black Dogs has been published by Hachette India.
Visit him here

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