‘A Change of Heart’ – I instantly made a judgement that this book was perhaps a romantic novel by an Indian author. And yes, I realised I was completely wrong as soon as I read the synopsis.
The synopsis of the book gave me an indication of it being a semi-thriller and to the delight of my Desi soul, it also appeared to have all the elements of a Bollywood movie – Two lead characters with difficult pasts, Mumbai’s underworld and an organ donation scandal! I hoped that the book would be fast paced and to be fair, I wasn’t entirely disappointed.
Dr Nic Joshi is our main protagonist who at the beginning of the book is an alcoholic doctor aboard a cruise ship. He is grieving the loss of his wife and their unborn child when in a drunken stupor he comes across a lady who eerily resembles his wife. This is Jess Koirala a member of the cruise ship’s dance troupe who claims that she has had a heart transplant and the heart is none other than Nic’s wife’s, Jen’s ! Together Nic and Jess try and unravel an organ donation scandal that Jen was embroiled in before her death.
The author has paid a lot of attention to the developing relationship between Nic and Jess and it’s not your clichéd love at first sight storyline. The emotions that are drawn out by the author are very realistic and for that Dev must be given full credit. The other characters in the book including the underworld don Asif, police inspector Rahul, the Home Minister on one side and Dr Nic’s and Jess’s families on the other provide the story with a fair amount of drama and excitement.
Although I enjoyed the book, I have to say that I felt a tad let down by the climax. I say this because the build up of the entire plot was very engaging. Dev’s writing is bold with liberal use of profanity. However, this doesn’t come across as obnoxious or vulgar because of the manner in which the writing is used to describe the state of mind of the characters. Otherwise, her words flow steadily and there was one paragraph in the book about dance that will remain with me “Most people didn’t realise that dance was as much about the stillness between movement as it was about movement itself. It was about holding your body exactly the way it needed to be held to tell a story. Just like in life, it was the stillness that made all the motion more meaningful”.
Overall, an engaging book and one of the first I’ve read belonging to this particular genre within the scope of South Asian fiction.