Rajiv Shah, a Chartered Accountant and a Financial Consultant by profession, makes his debut as a fiction writer with the novel ‘Forever- A Love Saga.’ The novel is a romantic thriller interconnected with the story of two couples. Shah is a self-proclaimed fan of Bollywood and the influence clearly shows in his writing. He has tried to carve a story in the classical Bollywood mould with dollops of everything from humour, suspense and romance sprayed in it.
The story follows the romance of Arjun and Karishma, two college students who end falling in love at first sight. Their whirlwind romance meets many obstacles in the form of Karishma’s conservative Gujarati father, Nikhil, the brother of a gangster who has feelings for Karishma and the pair’s own immaturity. However, when it seems that their love will win overcoming all odds, Karishma mysteriously dies.
Enter Rahul and Susan, two detectives who are officially assigned to solve this case. While they stumble upon interesting clues which bring them closer to solve this case, their personal life becomes complicated as they develop feelings for each other.
The book takes time to get its bearing. In fact, the story starts moving only after chapter 10. While the main story is told in flashback, a lot of time is wasted by the author in the present times, which hardly takes the story forward. Also, the mushy and sentimental tone wears down the reader.
Comparatively, it is the flashback portion which works best. Shah has handled both the romantic track portrayed in the book with care. The characters have been sketched with empathy and so even the most villainous characters won’t generate hatred for them from the readers. While, it is primarily a romantic novel, in the later part, it becomes a full-fledged thriller with lot of twists and turns. It is an absolute page turner in those portions and has the capacity to shock the readers with the final revelation. Also, the character of Susan, the lady detective is one of the high point of the book. She has been shown as a complete badass woman with no time for frivolous sentiments and the book picks up real pace after her entry.
On the whole, the book is uneven at parts but still can be called a good debut attempt by Rajiv Shah. While he has attempted both romance and thriller in this book, I feel he is better handling the latter and would like to see him pen a full-fledged murder mystery where we might see the return of detective Susan.
Author: Rajiv Shah Publisher: notionpress.com
Review by Nabarun Guha