AN.AL-THE ORIGINS by Athul Demarco

Title-AN.AL-the origins
Author-Athul Demarco
Publisher-Prakash Books/Fingerprint
Price-INR 250/-
Source-Goodreads Firstreads
                 Agreed,Athul Demarco’s debut novel,’AN.AL-the origins’ has got a weird or rather bizarre title but that was no reason for me to not like this refreshingly original and brutally honest tale of the ‘Man with the two heads’.As the tag- line suggests,this book is the first in the series which chronicles the escapades of the parapagus(Conjoined) detective twins-Andy and Alfie(the title being an acronym created from the first two letters of the protagonists's names).

The Plot-Andy and Alfie are two smart and intelligent conjoined twins who are ready to face the big,bad world.They stumble upon Superindentent Roth who decides to utilize their expertise for cracking difficult and 'twisted' cases.As fate would have it,the only son of the powerful and influential Costello couple goes missing in broad day light only to be found dead somewhere in the outskirts of the city a couple of days later. Roth who is vying for a life of luxury post retirement sees this case as his big ticket to the 'life' which he is craving for and seeks the help of the 'detective twins' to solve the murder.

The Characters-The biggest strength of this novel is the characterisation.As it is often said,if the character(s)is(are) poorly written and difficult to relate to,even the most amazingly written story can seem dull and boring.Though the concept of having conjoined twins as protagonists is hardly innovative,what makes Athul's efforts laudable is the manner in which he has etched out his principal characters.Both Andy and Alfie may be as different as chalk and cheese(the former being the quiet and introvert type while the latter tending to the other extreme)but still there is that bond of brotherhood and intellectual companionship which unites them whenever the need arises.Similarly the other characters,be it the Superindentent Routh or his deputy Eugene have also been written well.The writer has intentionally kept the character of Anitha a bit hazy or vague but that is understandable.(Oh!,I hate giving out spoilers!C'mmon,read the book to know more about her!

The Writing-Athul's writing is fine as long as he doesn't try to be 'super cool' by throwing in the 'F' words and expletives(which unfortunately happens quite often in the initial pages of the book).The writer has used simple,conversational English to convey his story and doesn't burden the reader by resorting to word play or other gimmicks at any point of time.  
'AN.AL',I feel is one of those works which gives more important to character sketches than the actual plot,which is okay for me.(but I'm pretty sure that this approach might not be liked by many)The reader gets to know about the killer,motive and the victim quite early and as a result the mystery element is clearly missing in the narrative.Neverthless,the writing is quite interesting and fast paced to make good for that.
The scenes which I loved the most in the book-
  • The Hospital scene in which Alfie tries to flirt with the beautiful nurse Liya  even when his brother is worried about the condition of Inspector Eugene was hilarious.
What I didn't like about this work-
  • The climactic duel between the killer and the twins was a big let down.(the dialogues!OMG!)
  • The 'Mrs Robinson episode'looked straight out of Kamal Haasan's yesteryear Blockbuster 'Pushpakavimanam'.
  • Likewise,some instances/situations in the book looked rather clich├ęd.
  • The disjointed narrative technique used by the author didn't quite work for me.Similarly I could also notice a couple of goof-ups.(how did Peter and Rita who were 14 and 11 respectively in 1980 become 'old' by 1988?Did I really miss something in between?).Moreover the core theme of the book(cannibalism)might repel some of it's potential readers.(thankfully, there aren't many violent,repulgnant sequences in the novel could have hampered it's prospects more!) 

    Verdict-On the whole,Athul Demarco makes a promising debut with AN.AL-the origins.I'm giving 3/5 for this horror- thriller.


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