Title: A Tale of Two
Author: Abhishek V
Genre: Crime Thriller
First Publication: 2022
Book Summary: A Tale of Two by Abhishek V
In the middle of the ground, amidst urban infrastructure and a sprawling slum, lie the bodies of 14 men. One, in particular, draws Inspector Mohit Sawant’s attention – one that has had its face and hands brutally smashed by a huge rock. The only lead and eyewitness is Nitesh, found with bloody hands, sobbing beside the disfigured body.
It all began when two boys, Nitesh and Vatsal, sat on abandoned railway tracks and decided that they wanted to leave their slum life behind. While Vatsal wanted to do it by pursuing his passion for dance and making a living the right way, Nitesh wanted to do it quickly. His only option was to help the local gangster Harish and join his organization. With his wit and his decisions, Nitesh rose within the gang, but also made new enemies who wanted to ensure that he is imprisoned and stayed behind bars.
Amidst the pressure from his superiors and political influencers, can Inspector Sawant get to the bottom of the case and unveil the true motive of the crimes? Can Nitesh keep his secrets hidden and lie his way to freedom? Or will powers beyond their control award a final binding verdict?
Book Review: A Tale of Two by Abhishek V
Abhishek V’s A Tale of Two is, at its core, the narrative of two men who, although sharing the same intelligence, willpower, and desire to escape their slum backgrounds, end up in very different places. The story opens with Inspector Mohit Sawant investigating a massacre site where 14 men’s dead bodies are lying in the middle of the ground. Inspector Sawant becomes concerned when he discovers that one of the deceased was brutally mangled by having a heavy rock smashed into its face and hands. Nitesh, who was discovered with bloody hands while crying next to the mutilated corpse, is the only witness who may have seen what happened.
The narrative then jumps back in time to the day when Nitesh and Vatsal, two young boys, sat on some derelict train lines and made the decision that they wanted to escape the life they were living in the slum. Nitesh wanted to achieve it as quickly as possible, but Vatsal’s goal was to get there by following his dream of becoming a dancer and earning a career in an ethical manner. For Nitesh, the only choice was to join hands with local gangster Harish. Nitesh ascended in status inside the gang thanks to his intelligence and decision-making, but he also earned some enemies who want Nitesh to spend the rest of his life behind bars.
On his journey, the events and people around Nitesh cause his life to take a wild turn. He embarks on a series of dangerous adventures, whether it be moving out of the poorest slum, joining hands with the mafia members and getting involved in illegal activities, serving in prison, or fighting in someone else’s war, all the while being utterly clueless about his goals.
The lives of two different individuals from the same background and the same part of the world are shown in an awesome way in A Tale of Two. Both the central characters, Nitesh and Vatsal, go through experiences that, in their own unique ways, shape both of them. The ascent of both of these characters is crafted using some of the excellent storytelling that makes you feel that each of these guys is destined for glory and an inevitable collision with each other. However, this is the moment at which the story takes an unexpected turn, and it is at this time that I was able to grasp the complexity that author Abhishek had aimed to create.
I liked the contrast in the characters: Vatsal, who was sophisticated, and Nitesh, who is street smart; both are ambitious and determined to rise to the top in their professions. Apart from the titular characters, the supporting characters were also given a lot of depth and essence. As for the book’s ability to evoke feelings in its readers, it scored very well. The politics, the historical relevance, the passion of the characters, and the fact that I could empathise with them are all things that truly appeal to me about this book.
Speaking of empathy, the emotional quotient was so high in A Tale of Two! The sense of betrayal, the agony of losing a close friend, the will to succeed, the fury at being wronged, and the need to exact vengeance on those responsible could be felt in the air. In the end, a tale of such epic proportion deserved a suitable climax, which the author has delivered in spades. What Abhishek has provided is the best possible ending that could have been imagined for the narrative.