About the Author: Lata Gwalani is a behavioural and skills facilitator and gives motivational speaches. She is also a Principal Facilitator at Human Impact Training and Consulting Pvt. Ltd. With 22 years work experience and having worked in journalism, advertising and technical writing, Lata is an intuitive person. She has a great insight into people psyche and behaviour.
About the book: Probably this background prompted Lata to write a psychological thriller as her first novel. She gained the no.7 spot on the list of top 10 debut authors on Flipkart and in October 2012, the book was released an internationally.
At the outset, let me tell you that I love thrillers and mysteries. This title itself caught my attention because I have always been fascinated by the word Incognito. When I started reading it I was hooked from the first chapter.
I am reading and trying to write simultaneously. I am trying because the narrative is so interesting that I find it difficult to concentrate on the writing.
The book is divided into seven parts by the author. But I feel that it is 5 stories entwining into one. The author starts with the first story, brings it to an interesting part and suddenly stops. Then she starts another part, similarly brings it to an interesting position and stops. She does that till she has said the fifth story. At every stop, I felt disappointed that I did not know what happened after that and that is natural in a thriller. The first part is clearly the beginning, where the protagonist, Anjali, who inadvertently becomes a mute witness to the plotting of 4 bizarre murders, confesses to a psychologist, Dr. Ganguly, about it. This part abruptly ends as she is beginning her narrative.
All five parts give different perspectives, a la Virginia Woolf in To the Light House. But the only difference is that the 4 parts where the anecdotes of the other four women Shailee, Rachana, Anuradha and Shakti are in first person. The direct involvement of these characters makes us, readers, get involved with their situations and helps us to understand the mechanics of their mind. The individual plots are simple, but the intertwining with that of Anjali makes the story complicated. These plots include the women’s (the main characters of these sub-plots) passionate romances and then their final decision to kill their object d’ amours. No, I have not told you the end yet. There is more to it than meets the eye, as the saying goes. After these stories are over, the first part continues talking about Anjali’s experiences afterwards.
All the while my mind, as I read the other stories, was racing back to Anjali. I wanted to know where she met these women. How did she find out about their intents? I loved the description of Venice in the section of Shailee. I like the place since the time I saw it for the first time in a song in the Hindi movie The Great Gambler, a 1979 film and want to go there at least once in my life. But due to this book, I realized that despite the romantic and glamorous image of Venice and its canals, there are dangers lurking in the form of the water. When there is high tide often the sea water enters the canals and floods the buildings built on the banks of the canals, which can obviously cause human, animal and even material harm.
My Take: At the end of it I do want to mention that though I felt curious about the end, I don’t know why, but, I had this niggling doubt about it. Perhaps, because I have brought myself up on mysteries and thrillers, I found the ending predictable. Again though I did feel disappointed on being right, it would be my only right to mention, that this thriller is different from what I had read or seen till I read it. Lata has it in her to entertain the readers well. Anyways, if I speak more I might spoil the suspense. Enjoy your read.
Book Title: Incognito.
Genre(s): Psychological Thriller.
Author: Mrs. Lata Gwalani.
Publisher (Year): Frog Books (2012)
Number of Pages: 267
Price: Rs. 195/-