The Patriot – terror on the high seas by Jims Andrews
The book begins with a piece of news from a newspaper and reading through it reminds us of the terrorist attack in India sometime back. On this news the entire story is set.
As a reader this is my first experience on the subject matter where it involves a journey through high sea and technicalities of the ship under discussion hence, I am not able to comment upon the technical aspect involved in the story. As such, the technicalities are not so complicated to understand! It just shows the high knowledge on the part of the writer about the subject matter.
MT Indraprastha, an Indian flag merchant vessel is sailing on its normal course as defined with two-hundred-thousand metric tons of highly volatile crude oil and of course the crew on board. Maya is the only female member in the whole of the crew in the capacity of the third officer. Arjun is the captain of the ship. The story begins at a leisurely pace with Maya monitoring the position of the ship and making the note of the same and her duty about to be changed. As this otherwise regular changeover is happening, something else props up. Maya sights a small boat chasing them and she realizes it must be pirates. The whole team gets into action once Maya warns them of the situation. The head office is informed about the situation and as they decide the next course of action, it is very clear to them as a matter of practice that they need to surrender to the pirates and there should not be any resistance and human lives are more important. There should not be a loss of single human life; ship anyways comes with a huge cost of insurance.
The pirates are able to take over Indraprastha and only then it comes to the picture that they are actually not pirates but terrorists with a bigger purpose and nefarious plan. The terrorists want the release of Akram Ali Khan – prime accused in one of the most inhumane massacre in exchange of the hostages held on the Indraprastha. The story unfolds slowly, just when Maya recognizes one of the terrorists Anwar who now has a new name.
The tussle between the hostages and the terrorists, the conflict between the Shipping Office and the Navy / Coast guards keeps the readers hooked on to the book. Added to the existing nail biting moments, another story unfolds connecting Maya and Anwar from school days! It does come as a surprise to the readers but then it is clear from the beginning of the story that Anwar has some personal scores to settle and that is the reason he had joined the militant outfit.
There are lot of moments when as a reader one will not be able to put the book down specially those involving high level planning to save the ship, to find out the next course of the ship, next move on the part of the terrorists. It does appear to be somewhat a typical ‘bollywood stuff’ full of emotions (how change of heart happens for Anwar!); Not only this, we have lady villain competing with Maya on board (now does not that sound like a bollywood heroine pitched against the lady villain who is the side kick of the lead terrorist!!!).
Are they able to save MT Indraprastha from getting blown up in the midst of the sea? Will Maya and Anwar be able to re-live their past together in the present circumstances? What happens to Akram Ali Khan? Does the Government of India give into the terrorist pressure and repeat Kandhahar? Did Pakistan gives into international pressure and comes to the aid of India? Will the crew of MT Indraprastha be able to rise to the situation and avert the disaster of crude oil getting spilled into the sea? All this and much more… read on if you are keen to read action oriented books. Even otherwise, the book makes a good read and a good attempt at maritime Fiction, specifically on maritime terrorism. The writer himself is a chief engineer with merchant navy so it is very much obvious that he has a deep practical knowledge on the maritime subject. Over all it makes a good time pass, though it cannot be classified to be a “must have” in your book collection.