Gujarat Riots of 2002 left a lot of things in a bizarre way. The Youngest Suspect though is a fiction but it feels like its a story of one of the victims of that mishap. In her second book, Peggy Mohan, who has used her previous experiences of being a linguist in terrorism trials, has done a neat job. The book is a courtroom thriller and a love story wrapped up with various subplots and hops from one plot to another.
The book opens up at a train station, where Adil Ansari boards Sabarmati Express from Meghnagar. His twelfth class board exam are due in three weeks and he is going to Ahmedabad where he resides with his younger sister Faizaa and mother, who is a Urdu teacher in a school. Suddenly, he hears a commotion heading towards the coach S6 of the train and in no time the bogie was full of choking smoke and people running for their lives. The scene shakes you. Adil somehow manages to land up at Ahmedabad and a series of events shake him to the core. Communal riots have broken out in the city and his sister Faizaa saves him from an attack with sheer intelligence. Then a series of event takes place and Adil finds himself in jail under a POTA case.
In another plot, Deepa, a linguist along with her friend Ramya who is a lawyer comes across the same POTA case and tries their best to acquit all the innocent people who have been held against wrong charges under forced confessions. In this plot, the author has used her experiences of such cases to the fullest and has framed everything with extreme intelligence.
The characters of the book are well defined. Though at times, I felt the narrative and dialogues have been stretched a bit. Faiza being so young shows tremendous courage and intelligence during the riots and comes across as a very strong person, which is rare considering her age. Adil, soft spoken and calm and focussed in his own way. His love interest Megha Rai, comes across as a breath of fresh air in the story. The conversation between Inspector Vijay and the mystery man is something that shakes you and there are various other situations and stories that are so outrageous that I closed the book because I couldn’t take it at that particular instant.
All and all, a thumbs up for The Youngest Suspect. Peggy Mohan’s writing is simple and effective and in 31 chapters and 240 pages, she has comes up with a story full of compassion, intelligence, love and humanity. Give it is a read. You might like it.
Book Source : Publisher
Publisher : Harper Collins India
Genre : Fiction
ISBN : 978-93-5029-383-6