In his eagerness to make the story cool, Nikhil Pradhan ends up making it formulaic
Nikhil Pradhan's second novel, Yesterday's Ghosts, is a pacy thriller about four former intelligence operatives and the circumstances that bring them back together after decades of no-contact. It mixes espionage with horror in a pared-down, sparse narrative. The interrogation format is used as the primary narrative device, interspersed with short spells of omniscient narration to ground the novel better.
Pradhan's first book, Cold Truth, had a similar structure and his experimentation with the novel form stood out for diverting from conventional storytelling. Unfortunately, the experimental audacity of the first book becomes the second's comfort zone.
The interrogation rhetoric gets clichéd here, chock-a-block with familiar tropes like mysterious aliases, codes and locations. The minimalist narration too seems to suggest haste rather than restrain.
The characters are stock: Castellan, the interrogator, speaks like a Netflix detective; Jodan the angry is always angry; Roy the pathetic acts pathetically; the mysterious ghost is simply mysterious. All these end up looking like cool tricks designed to stretch a flimsy premise.
That said, the book is not short of interesting elements. There is a strong cinematic quality to it. But nothing is developed properly enough to lend the book substance.
Pradhan's eagerness to make the novel smart ends up making it formulaic. If it's a page-turner it's because one must turn the pages to finish the story.
Courtesy: THE HINDU