Book Reviews by a Pioneer: The Raavan Key by Pravin Agarwal

Kartik is a self-made entrepreneur owning a chain of successful restaurants in America. He is visiting his relatives in Bareilly with his family in 2019 to attend a family wedding. On the morning of the wedding he goes to the nearby Pashupati Nath temple but does not return.

The family hires Ajay, a private detective, to investigate his disappearance and find him. There are many suspects, including some of the family members and his Indian business partner. These people may have also met the Indian overlord of Europe’s most dreaded crime syndicate in the recent past.

Kartik was in the habit of writing a diary about his life. Ajay starts reading the diary and realises that the key to the case may be in the lost city of Drumatulya, lying buried and lost, somewhere in Thar desert near Jaisalmer in Rajasthan. The city is mentioned in Ramayana and seemingly existed around 5135 BCE. The city had links to Raavan. The detective names this important clue as The Raavan Key.

The diary also reveals that Kartik’s father Shivam had gone on an archaeological expedition to Jaisalmer with his university mates in 1972 in search of the lost city. Shivam was an engineering student, but had accompanied the group to be with Vedika whom he loved and wanted to marry. Something terrible happened during the trip and he could not marry her.

Shivam has also died in an accident a few years earlier. Kartik now has no way of learning about the terrible events during the archaeological trip, which resulted in many on the trip perishing in a sand storm.

Ajay is told by Kartik’s wife Shreya about an old woman staring at her husband on the flight to India, and murmuring something about the danger to his life. This woman is Richa, a friend of Shivam, and who was also part of the archaeological group.

Hoping that she might be able to throw some light on the case, Ajay calls Richa. As he is talking to her, she is attacked in a Delhi market. The detective rushes to Delhi to meet her.

Book 1 of the Drumatulya trilogy ends in a cliff-hanger as Ajay enters Richa’s home.

This is a fast paced book. A few questions are answered, a few questions remain unanswered. I would have personally preferred to know the end in the first book itself – what is the link between the seemingly unconnected events of 2019 (when Kartik is kidnapped), 1972 (when Shivam goes on the college trip), the lost city of Drumatulya (that existed around 5135 BC), and the crime syndicate overlord?

But then that should be the beauty of stories spread across multiple books – they should leave you wanting to read the next volume, to know what happens next! Book 1 of Drumatulya trilogy succeeds in generating this interest.

The book could have been made tighter by removing passages which seemingly are not relevant to the story – though they help in establishing Kartik as a righteous individual. The book also needs stronger editing, which I hope will be taken care of in the subsequent two volumes.


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