Author: Suraj Laxminarayanan| Genre: Crime Fiction | Pages: 600 | Buy now
A gang of amateur hoodlums plan a bank robbery as an escape to their larger-than-life miseries. What they failed to plan however is – what if a seasoned gang walks in the same day for a loot in the same bank? Set against the backdrop of Chennai, a weird dilemma unfolds where three gangs have nothing but to deal with the situation at hand based on intuition and inept experiences.
The start of the book gives you a glimpse into the lives of a fake gang that attempts petty thefts for routine survival. They are glued together, not by fate, but by one common motive and that is ending their monetary plights. Plan: Looting a local bank.
Another gang of seasoned dacoits has fouled a set task and now owe a certain sum to the local crime lord. Plan: Looting the same bank.
The actual twist however, is cleverly concealed from the reader’s eyes.
The title of the book is pretty intriguing and if you are someone who likes to play detective, you’d learn from it, even before opening the first page that the story is about elephantine motives running into one another, consciously or otherwise. The cover is a quite literal depiction of the plot.
The plot has many subplots. And what happens when a story has many subplots? It tends to fall between the gaps. That’s what happens. But not once do you lose sight of the action because that’s how smartly it’s weaved together. What’s worth a mention though is how all the loose ends of the subplots connect toward the end thus forming a clear picture in the reader’s mind. The pace of the plot is slow at times, at times the action wins over. But despite it all, I can easily say that the author had an eye for a future cinematic adaptation of the book.
The descriptions of settings take the reader through a tour of the city and you will not fail to notice that the places are so clearly etched in your mind as though you had just visited the place. The author has dissected and explored his locales with queer curiosity and that is evident from the building up of scenes, whether that’s a market alleyway or a local city bank.
The characters are far too many and although the author doesn’t spare more than a day’s light on their backgrounds, it is not difficult to catch up with them. It’s the characters who hold the story together helping it not fall apart in the scenario of the commonly known multiple-subplot failure. You do feel a pang of pity for the members of the fake gang but it’s gone within the blink of an eye. You do however, keep rooting for their success in the looting compared to the rest of the gangs.
What unfolds thus, is a pure work of genius blended with desperate desires, risky attempts, a pinch of revenge with a dash of greed. This work doesn’t seem fit to be called a debutant’s work. The magnanimous research done and the titanic amount of writing employed in the making of this book surpasses all expectations a reader may hold from a debut work. I’m sighing with relief at the end of this tedious reading experience because:
1. The end was worth it 2. Verbose descriptions
This could easily be wrapped up in about 400 pages, had the author had a mind for innocuous editing. That said, there is nothing that would stop the book from being a stellar attempt at crime fiction.
Read more about the author, Suraj Laxminarayanan.
If you happen to read ‘Elephants in the Room’ or have already read it, do share your thoughts below.
P.S: I received a review copy from the author but the review remains unbiased.