Book Review: 'Dauntless Maverick' by Jaikishan Kalawapudi

Book: Dauntless Maverick

Author: Jaikishan Kalawapudi

I recently read the book “Dauntless Maverick” by Jaikishan Kalawapudi, in which a literary fiction has been amalgamated with a mystery. Read on to know what I think of Jaikishan Kalawapudi’s debut book.

But before I go any further into talking about the story, let me first talk about the book cover, which is quite bland. I also somewhat believe in the old cliché to not judge a book by its cover, but of course all of us, including me, do so sometimes. Though the book cover incorporates elements of the storyline, and is in tune with the story’s narrative, but the same book cover tweaked to include some colours would have attracted more readers to the book. I reiterate that this would just have been to get more readers to pick up the book. However, if readers pick up the book first and afterwards, read the blurb, then the book cover would certainly make more sense to them.

Now let’s get talking about the story. Here we meet ‘Badri’, or Badrinarayan Mulakateshwara Wamanashankar Swamy. Badri is a ninety-year-old ex-government servant, who worked as a senior officer at Reserve Bank of India. The title “Dauntless Maverick” has been used to describe him. Throughout, he has lived a fairly middle-class life, though behind this facade of simplicity, he harbours a secret. A series of events have led him to amass wealth beyond his means, though he has never shared these secrets with his family.

He is fighting a terminal ailment, and is on his deathbed. As his soul prepares for its last journey from this mortal world, it seeks closure and peace. It is then that Badri challenges his family to find out the truth. If they succeed, they will receive an inheritance far beyond their imagination; but if they don’t, all his wealth will be donated to charity.

Badri’s family, which includes his three children, accept the challenge and embark on the quest. The narrative, which includes suspense from here on, also includes his children battling old secrets, their inter-personal relationships, and their different personalities to get together in this quest. Readers also get to know about Badri’s life, his secrets, and the events that made him the man he became.

In the book, there are alternating timelines, which depict the times of Badri’s early life and the present day. These alternating timelines, detailed in different chapters, blend seamlessly with each other. Since Badri worked as a government servant in newly independent India, we get to know about workings of the government system, red-tapism, and rampant political corruption. The author creates well-rounded characters, and builds a fairly engaging plot, though the denouement doesn’t particularly match the build-up. The suspense of the quest, and the secrets, as they unfold, would make the readers keep turning the pages.

The book’s language and narrative delivery are strong. The writing style is eloquent, and this one is surely an effortless read. I would definitely recommend readers to pick up this book, and give it a read.

Pick this book up

  1. If you like to read a predominantly literary fiction with distinct overtones of an investigative clue-finding quest.

  2. If you love reading relatively short books. At 196 pages, this is a read which can be completed in a day or two.

  3. If you like reading Indian fiction, particularly from a debut author.

  4. If you have read a lot of fiction with clichéd romance tropes, and would like to read something different.

Skip this book

  1. If elements in a book’s narrative about the workings of government departments seem boring and monotonous to you.

  2. If you are looking for a pure mystery book, in which the primary focus is on the plot, and not the characters. (As this book has both superbly etched characters and a gripping plot, though the plot falters in places).

The book ‘Dauntless Maverick’ is available online and at your nearest bookstore.

From Jammu, J&K; Studied in DPS, Jammu.