Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Book Review: 'DNA... Dad's Not Adopted' by Shikha Kaul

Let us admit that we Indians don’t have that much affinity for paperback thrillers. Love and Romance tops all the genres. Perhaps the oppressed feelings of young Indian souls find solace in their I-wish-it-happened-to-me type of romance fictions.
That has always been a bad sign for other genres including thrillers. It takes guts to be an upstream sailor. And Ms. Shikha Kaul has done that with her stupendous book “DNA… Dad’s Not Adopted”

About the Author

A graduate with Honours in Physics and a P.G. in HR, Ms. Shikha Kaul is a doting mother and wife. She loves books of all genres and writing gives her the peace of mind.
Ms. Kaul has been the winner of “Author of the Year” award by Salis Online Magazine for her debut novel ‘Hidden Husband’.

Storyline and Plot Structure

“DNA…” is basically an investigation and court-room drama. There is an allegation which unfortunately leads to the murder of the plaintiff. And a normal case of legal heir becomes a murder mystery. As the story goes, a Thai national claims to be the daughter of an Indian business tycoon. The man denies and a case is filed. The trial goes on and just when both the parties agree on a settlement, the girl is killed. Her murder leads to the unraveling of series of secrets being hidden for years which question the bond of family and friends. The storyline is riveting and almost every paragraph is connected to its successor leading the story from one stage to another.

The story is full of thrills as per the demand of the genre. A murder mystery in its true sense, almost every second page brings a new phase in the consequences and the turn of events leaves the readers dumbfounded. An insight in the high-profile life of affluent class and the mechanism of media and police is very interesting.

The entire story is divided in four sub-plots as in ‘The Murder’, ‘Thailand’, ‘The Past’ and ‘The Trial’ and the chapters has been allotted accordingly. The division of the plot makes it easier to grasp the story and connect the links. I appreciate Ms. Kaul’s effort in such a meticulous creation of the plot and such a proper configuration. It surely makes the reading more enjoyable.

Narration and Dialogues

Narration of ‘DNA…’ is lucid. It is emphatic and fluent. The shift of narration is diverse and unique simultaneously, which is itself quite an achievement and I congratulate Ms. Kaul for this. Monologues and soliloquies are part of the confessions during the investigations in the story and they often lay foundation for the scenes and dialogues. Half of the story moves in the form of confession and after that the main events follow.

As I stated earlier, there is uniqueness in the diversification of ‘DNA…’ and dialogues form a major part of it. The dialogues are witty, romantic, intricate and amusing. They are fluent and just. The dialogues provide an articulate insight of the lives of the people involved. Another prowess of Ms. Kaul certainly!


The main point about any thriller is the power of the story. The story of a thriller is so much powerful in itself that it leaves little room for the development of any particular character. In a thriller, the story itself becomes the protagonist and shadows even the main character. Only exceptions are the spy novels, where the spy characters become equivalent with the story. In such a scenario, it really becomes tough to create and develop such characters which could be remembered once the book is finished. But hats off to Ms. Kaul who successfully created such characters which turn out to be equally prominent with the story! There are more than one central characters in this novel and Rishabh Shenoy is one of them. He is an Indian business tycoon who finds himself dragged into an unwanted legal whirlwind. He is sensitive yet smart and professional both in his personal and business life. After leading a life of a playboy in his youth, he obediently surrenders towards family goals. Nisa Yuen is a Thai national who is innocent and just. People with soft cord may easily develop affection for her. Ghazal is a journalist who alongwith CBI Officer Pranab embarks on the journey of unraveling the murder mystery of Nisa. Ghazal is very smart and commanding in her professional life but very sensitive and lovelorn in her personal life. Pranab plays the role of a commanding authority both in her professional and personal life.

One more thing, which is quite commendable in this murder mystery, is the frame of the characters. Pratibha Shenoy, Krittika Shenoy, Anusha Shenoy and Balbir are the minor characters BUT they play very important roles in this story. Even the character of Mr. Sadashiv Shenoy, who is already dead long ago, plays a pivotal role in the story. The way their roles have been interconnected and configured in the story, marvelous would be simply unjust to comment. Characterization is certainly strong point of Ms. Kaul’s writing.

Treatment of Love and Romance

In this outstanding thriller by Ms. Kaul, love plays a significant role. The love-life of the protagonist Rishabh Shenoy creates all the mysteries. Besides, there is a love story of a cop and a journalist which proliferates simultaneously with the mysteries. Now here comes the point where I beg to differ from Ms. Kaul. The love-story of Ghazal and Pranab germinates and grows like teenagers. There seems a lack of mature concerns. The lady seems confused at first. But later, when she finally discovers her true feelings, she behaves as ecstatic as a sixteen year old. The man, on the other hand, gets smitten by the beauty of the lady. Normally when you attain a certain age you become able to see beyond the outer beauty of any person. That is the age when the intelligence, maturity and inner grace attract more than a lovely face. This facet of love was very new for me. Perhaps, Ms. Kaul tried to do some experiments with love. And the interesting fact of this experiment is it can be both amusing and distasteful depending on the readers’ perspective. I can perceive that this facet of love could prove to be more interesting to a number of readers.

The Climax

It is the climax of any thriller which makes it memorable for any reader. The tension, unpredictability, the consequences and the concluding part are the ingredients which garnish the climax. The writing prowess of Ms. Kaul reaches its epitome in the climax of ‘DNA…’. It is as racy and unpredictable as it could be. I was literally biting my nails while reading the anti climax and when the mystery unfolded in climax, it was equally mind-boggling. I salute Ms. Kaul for such an amazing story and equally amazing climax.

‘DNA… Dad’s not adopted’ can be read and read once again. And it can be read one more time. And even if you read it so many times that you almost by-heart all the scenes and the dialogues, it can be read once again. So, if you love thrillers, ‘DNA…’ is your cup of tea. And even if you don’t love thrillers, ‘DNA…’ can make you go crazy about it. 

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