Thrillers are the new buzzword be it OTT or books. Even India’s highest selling author, Chetan Bhagat has taken a detour from his young adult fiction books to thrillers over the last few years. While Mr. Bhagat is trying to make his mark in this genre, India has seen some stellar thriller authors in the likes of Ashwin Sanghi, Amitav Ghosh and Hussain Zaidi. A good thriller is often a mix of brilliant research married to masterful narration that urges a reader to turn pages and finish the book at the earliest. We take a look at some of India’s supreme thriller novels that have been written over the years.
The Calcutta Chromosome by Amitav Ghosh
Winner of the Arthur C Clarke in 1997, this book by Amitav Ghosh is set in Calcutta and New York. The book is inspired and loosely based on the life of Nobel prize winning scientist, Sir Ronald Ross. The book starts with Antar, a man from the future who is about to retire starts investigating the disappearance of Murugan (who calls himself Morgan) who unearthed a deep secret regarding Sir Ross’ malaria research. A fine medical thriller that travels across years between Antar’s and Murugan’s times. One of the best thrillers written in the world.
Sacred Games by Vikram Chandra
Now a major Netflix series and the winner of the Vodafone Crossword Book Award, Sacred Games is a 2006 mystery/thriller by the Indian-American author. Set in the 1980’s and 1990’s of Bombay, the book traces a police inspector Sartaj Singh’s quest to find the real meaning behind a deadly gangster’s last words. The book traces back the history of the gangster, Ganesh Gaitonde and his uncanny connection with Inspector Singh’s father setting itself up for a mindblowing finale. A masterful mix of storytelling and thrill.
Black Friday by S. Hussain Zaidi
Published in 2002, Black Friday: The True Story of the Bombay Bomb Blasts is a non-fiction crime novel by journalist Hussain Zaidi. The book is based on Mr. Zaidi’s research when he was reporter during those turbulent times. The author collected statements, evidence, FIRs and even interviews with the likes of Dawood Ibrahim and Tiger Memon. The film was adapted into a film by Bollywood director, Anurag Kashyap. A riveting real-life account of one of India’s horrific terrorist attacks.
Chanakya’s Chant by Ashwin Sanghi
Another Vodafone Crossword Book Award winner, Mr. Sanghi’s second novel was in all Indian bestseller lists within two months of its release. Set in 340 B.C, the book weaves a narrative around powerful historical characters like Chanakya, Alexander the Great, Chandragupta Maurya and more. The book then revives Chanakya multiple decades later as Pandit Gangasagar Mishra in a contemporary setting with a challenge to solve for India piles of issues on casteism, communal hatred, and corruption. A historical thriller with a cult fan following.
Nobody Likes An Outsider by Fawaz Jaleel
The only out-and-out political investigative thriller on the list and winner of the India Prime Authors award, this 2021 book starts with the death of India’s most promising politician. The book travels through events between 1970 to 2021 and stands loosely inspired by real-life events from contemporary Indian history. The book is the first of the Yohan Tytler mystery series that is solving two murders linked to the modern history of Bihar and India. A fast-paced thriller mystery sprinkled with heavy dose of politics making Mr. Jaleel India’s finest political thriller author.
Don’t Tell The Governor by Ravi Subramanian
Winner of the Golden Quill Reader’ Choice Award, the only banking thriller on this list starts on November 8th on the India-Nepal border when a passenger car crashes off a highway and falls into a valley. The car was loaded with a trunk full of cash. The book has parallel events of a UK reality show winner and a whistle-blower in Central America who brings down global billionaires. With chaos around, Aditya Kesavan the new RBI-governor is given the task of running India’s financial brain while being surrounded by manipulative elements. An out-of-the box thriller with a deep dive into India’s banking sector.