BUNKER 13 by Aniruddha Bahal


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Drug-rattled reporters and soldiers in embattled Kashmir double- and triple-cross each other and their subcontinental governments—in a confusing but thoroughly frightening thriller from an Indian journalist who knows far too much.

As if the world weren’t already sufficiently discombobulated for anyone’s peace of mind, columnist, muckraker, and first-novelist Bahal presents in terrifying detail the details of why we shouldn’t sleep at night for worry about the ongoing rumble between Pakistan and India. Who knew, for example, that both sides have crack paratroopers, ruthless intelligence agencies, cold-blooded special operations outfits, and a cynical willingness to finance their blood feuds with money earned dumping kilotons of drugs on the rest of the world? Narrating this nightmare in the always-tricky second-person, Minty Mehta, known to all as MM, a reporter for The Post, a weekly magazine, draws on his military background to involve himself in the nastiest hand-to-hand battles on the Kashmiri front. And the nastiest battles are not just between the two nations. MM busily plays Sikh forces against the regulars and both against Indian intelligence. It’s seldom clear (deliberately) whether MM is on the side of the angels, if in fact, there are any angels in this mess. But it is very clear that he is up to his neck in the theft, sale, and transshipment of a big old load of drugs and arms seized in various actions in the vale. And is the Goanese Major Rodriguez, MM’s special ops training rival friend or foe? The Major had something to do with the death of MM’s great love years ago, and he turns up around every corner. MM’s only downtime from the action is in bed with his boss’s gorgeous daughter Karnam, and even that is strenuous in the extreme. When the waters eventually clear, it is only because they are about to boil over. Oh, and that train over there? It’s carrying nukes.

Worth hacking through.

Pub Date: June 2nd, 2003
ISBN: 0-374-11730-6
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 2003


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