The Krishna Key by Ashwin Sanghi

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Summary (from here.) The Krishna Key follows Ravi Mohan Saini, a historian, who has been accused of the murder of his childhood friend Anil Varshney. To clear his name and save his future, Saini must look to the past and uncover the truth about a serial killer that believes himself to be Kalki, the final avatar of Krishna. Saini has to travel from ancient ruins to Vrindavan temples in an attempt to discover one of Krishna’s treasures and stop his friend’s murderer.

(Krishna, by the way, is a Hindu god, who is supposed to be an incarnation of Vishnu, the preserver of the universe.)

My Thoughts: If I didn’t know better, I would have called Ashwin Sanghi’s The Krishna Key a fan-fiction. He is supposedly known as the Indian Dan Brown and it is apparent throughout the novel whom he draws his inspiration from.

It is one thing to be inspired by someone and entirely another to imitate someone. The author’s style is clearly inspired by the likes of Dan Brown, Robert Ludlum and others who write these kind of action-packed thrillers. Sure, he adopted someone else’s style, but he also made it his own. It was maintained throughout the book and did not seem out of place. I actually liked the writing. What I didn’t like was how weak the plot and characters were: mere shadows of characters created by others. The characters and their back-stories were too typical and it didn’t seem like the author had put much thought into creating them. The whole story seemed, at some points, like a framework the author designed to effectively write about his extensive research without making it a non-fiction book (which, come to think of it, I may have liked better.)

I loved the way the story was interspersed with accounts from Lord Krishna’s life, told by Lord Krishna. I’ve read reviews where people have said that they didn’t understand what that had to do with the plot, but I think it is a nice parallel that the author has drawn. On the one hand, they are trying to prove, today, that Krishna actually existed, and on the other, we have the Lord himself narrating what “actually happened.” It may not be what the author intended, but I could almost imagine the playful dark-skinned youth smirking as people ran around looking for his true story. That being said, had I ever thought about it, I would have imagined Krishna to have a more informal and fun writing style: I guess, it would have suited him more; but again, that’s just me.

I have to say, despite the problems I had with the plot and the characters, it’s a nice book. It’s not very filmy, there is no Hindi in the English (though there are the frequent errors that I’m going to blame on the editor) and it isn’t about today’s increasingly depressing urban life. The book is quick and not too long and to tell you the truth, whatever the author has copied, he has done it surprisingly well (copying can be done quite badly too, and we have a whole bunch horribly remade Bollywood movies to prove it.)

Indian mythology (or as the book seems to suggest, history) is very vast, fascinating and for anyone who hasn’t had to listen to stories of Krishna since they were two, it’s also very exotic. This is definitely a book that would interest anyone who likes historical fiction and quick paced, action-packed thrillers.

Grab your copy right here!

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