Age Of Vice (#1)
Author: Deepti Kapoor
Published (in India) by Juggernaut Books
Genre: Crime Thriller
No Of Pages: 548
MRP: Rs. 899/-
Thank you @juggernautbooks for getting me early access to the media copy.
You know when a property (yes, that is the correct term for this context) has more than 20 bids for its adaptation rights, has various different publishers in various regions and has endorsements from the likes of Lee Child and Marlon James, you know it's HOT! If you go by the several Goodreads reviews that have already been uploaded, it might even be the book of the year 2023. You might have seen tweets/Instagram stories from various people like Anurag Kashyap/Zoya Akhtar too!
The book is being marketed as Mirzapur meets Succession. Well, to be candid it's not a completely wrong analogy, it is not an entirely correct one either. The book is a page-turner indeed. Usually, a 550 Page book takes be a little more than a month to complete. I was done with this book within 10 Days. Three central characters drive the plot. Sunny Wadia, the renegade son of New Delhi's most powerful crime boss. Sunny has no vices and no problems that he cannot find someone else to solve for him. Ajay is a poor, rural boy/man who jumps at the chance to better his life by working for Sunny. All that is required of him is complete devotion. Complete. Finally, there's Neda, a mediocre journalist who falls for Sunny, completely upending her life. The book starts with a road accident. A Mercedes. Several Dead. Ajay. Davidoff Cool water. Black Label. I will not tell you more about the plot as it will ruin the experience. Reading the blurb of the book should be more than enough. It is based on organised crime and mob families in Uttar Pradesh, mostly set in 2004-2008.
At first, while reading the book from Ajay’s perspective, I was getting Arvind Adiga’s White Tiger vibes. A book I honestly did not like. The common thread between both these books is the wealth differentiation between the extremely rich and the extremely poor. As Adiga’s book, just piled on to the Slumdog perception of India for foreigners, I was afraid that the kind of attention this book is getting, it might do the same. Thankfully, it doesn’t, as there’s much more to the book. The Ajay Section of the book also (predictably) deals with caste issues. Also (not so predictable) a sort of slavery situation.
Neda Kapur’s character has many similarities with the author. Both are from Delhi and (the author’s own admission) terrible journalists in their 20’s. Both later moved abroad. One does not to be Sherlock to see the similarities so I might be way off base here but the character might have been based on her own experiences. The investigative journalism that Neda does in the book and the way Delhi has been written about clearly comes from experience. We read about the same time frame from both Neda and Ajay’s perspectives and it I was quite surprised by the amount of information that was masked.
It is not a secret that UP and Bihar used to be run by Mobsters until a few years ago. The Wadia Family is obviously fictionalised. Though I lack knowledge about the actual Gangs and mob families that exist.
I did not know going into it that it is going to be a trilogy. It’s a high-octane thriller and I was expecting all my questions to be answered at the end of the book. It keeps you hooked. It’s a page-turner alright. The book ends on a cliffhanger. Am I a fan of that kind of storytelling? No. Will I be reading the next one anyways? Yes.
CHARACTER ARCS: 4/5
LANGUAGE/WRITING STYLE: 4/5
HOW MUCH I ENJOYED READING THE BOOK: 4.5/5
KEETABI KEEDA RATING: 4/5