LSD has brought us many thrillers. Both the chemical and the human emotions of Love, Sex and Deception, are the basis of some very powerful tales from time immemorial. The brew turns especially potent if it involves high-profile personalities. This is why the Sheena Bora murder case was such a draw for many. Daughter posing as sister followed by hint of incest…what more do you want? In fact, it is a surprise that it has not been turned into a film yet.
Vish Dhamija’s latest writing The Mogul has the same working principle: murder in high places. The man in question is a tycoon named Prem Bedi. As the novel opens, we are told that he is 53, a widower, and is in Korea to sort out a business deal.
However, the visit is quickly cut short as he is informed over the phone that his ex-wife, who divorced him 12 years ago, after cheating on him with a journalist, has been murdered along with her hubby. The tale then shifts into Earl Stanley Gardner-esque territory when Bedi is accused of killing the couple and a battle is soon to unfold in a court. The tale is not told first-hand by the protagonist.
Instead, it is played out via the recollections of many of the key players. It unfolds in a Rashomon-like way. While the ending is clear, the journey of how we arrive at it, with the recollections of some of the key players in the tale, is highly interesting.
The ending forces us to remember that because someone is declared innocent by the law, does not mean they are. And the LSD factor plays quite a big role in it.
Courtroom thrillers are a genre that doesn’t have too many Indian authors backing. We all go gaga over the Perry Masons and the John Grishams. With Dhamija, we have got a dynamic addition to the genre. Let us hope more and even better stuff comes from him.