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2 political rivals fighting for power
1 journalist caught in the battle
6 tapes secretly recorded in Parliament
1 government with a lot to hide
Sikander Bansi, an unlikely political heir in Delhi, secretly records politicians in Parliament as they haggle to become cabinet ministers, bag defence contracts, dodge criminal charges and collect corporate largesse. Among them is a rising leader of the People’s Party, Nalan Malik, whose success has come through unscrupulous means.
When Sikander suddenly disappears, Mira Mouli, a newspaper journalist with an unusual gift for knowing people’s thoughts, receives the controversial Parliament tapes along with clues to find him. She is attracted to Sikander’s principles and is wary of Nalan’s deceit. But her powers of knowing tell her a different story, one that she can unravel only at the cost of her life. From the bestselling author of Shoes of the Dead, this is a disturbing political fiction that reveals why Parliament functions behind gates closed to the public.

Set in Delhi, The Honest Season is a book about a younger generation of politicians and journalists; how they uncover and hide things from the public, how they steal power and take advantage of a willingly blind nation. It is also about how the journalists, who want to reveal plots, do it for their own benefit. Since Kota Neelima is a political journalist, this book was really built up in my head. So much so that when it reached me I set aside the other book I was in the middle of and grabbed this one instead.

The characters are Mira, Nalan, Salat, Sikander and the rain. Yes, you read that right, the rain is a character as well. It is sort of Mira’s knight in wet armour. I have to say I am impressed with Kota Neelima’s style of writing. The very first sentence shows you exactly what the author wants to share in this book and the subsequent chapters only increase your interest in the characters.

Mira is a Know-journalist, which is basically someone who knows what someone thinks and does based on meeting them and reading their thoughts, and she is the first of her kind in the country. Salat joins her at the same paper at the beginning of the book and is sort of a rival/friend. Mira’s character and personality are immensely strong at the beginning. She is strong, smart and completely independent making you root for her right from the first page. And it stays that way for about 50% of the book. I read it feverishly, snapping at people who interrupted me because I was so hooked.

But then it stumbled. The pace drops and the story loses the pace. Mira goes from an intelligent and independent woman to one who is constantly suicidal and feeling sorry for herself. It was actually a bit of a disappointment really. It’s like the story loses sight of itself. In fact, by the end, only Salat and Nalan are able to maintain their personalities perfectly. The rest of them get lost in the political mess. Which, I suppose, is symbolical in itself.

But I wouldn’t blame the author for this. I blame the editor. The book could have been cut by 75ish pages and been so much better. And reducing the size of the book isn’t the author’s responsibility, it is the editor’s. I would never say this is a bad book, but if the editor had maintained the pace it would have been a 4 or a 5 star book. Now it is a 3 star book. Like the saying goes, a good editor could make or break a book. And while this editor hasn’t broken this one, there are certainly some large cracks, held together only by the intrigue Mira manages to create in the first half.

I would definitely read another book by the author again. I’m still impressed with her writing and how well she uses the little things that are generally overlooked. Especially her brilliant usage of Delhi and its rain, it is both Mira’s saviour and her executioner. It gives her an excuse and it gives her cause to get into trouble. It is everything and nothing at the same time. I just hope, next time, the pace and personality is maintained perfectly.

PS : Great job on the cover design. It suits the book absolutely perfectly. I can’t find the name of the designer anywhere but I was wondering why it had such a dark dreary cover, now I know.

Buy The Honest Season on Amazon

Thanks to Writer’s Melon & the author for providing me a copy of this book to read and review.