Some books are fascinating for their content; some for the way they are marketed. I found the positioning of the book ‘Tower of Silence’ especially interesting. To start with there is a fascinating story around the book itself: a zealous editor discovering an incomplete script written by an obscure gentleman many decades back and his dogged pursuit of the identity of the author and the complete script and his final triumph against odds. All makings of a cult hit. In some ways it reminded me of how the works of Ed Wood became a hit many years after his time.
Then we have a well designed cover giving an early twentieth century feel. The name also is quite intriguing and makes the reader want to pick up the book. The book as such also does not really disappoint. It is not the conventional detective story though. There is really not much of a mystery as such. Overall the book gave me a feeling as if I was reading a Tintin comic. I had not heard of the detective Saxton Blake. So I searched on the internet to find out more about him. I discovered he was a comic book detective. So that was I guess the story is consistent with the lead character chosen.
The story has lot of action and very little depth. The story is fast passed and moves like a see saw with balance of power shifting from the detective to the criminal and back. The narration is a detached third party narration that does not follow a single character but keeps shifting to different scenes of action. Therefore it lacks the intensity of narratives that follow a single character closely.
The thing I liked most about the book is the insights I got about the Parsi culture. The mystical feeling the author, himself a Parsi, creates is indeed fascinating. It was interesting to learn about the Parsis’ rituals to see off their deceased, their holy fire, their obsession for purity and cleanliness and how their choice of clothing enforces the same. The name 'Holy Tower' itself is the name for the structure where the Parsis leave their dead to be eaten by vultures. The story follows the story of how a few English men desecrate this place by photographing it and publishing in a Newspaper. The protagonist is a Parsi, who seeks revenge for the sacrilege. The detective Saxton Blake serves as his adversary trying to foil his plans.
I feel the author had much more scope to build upon the main character of Beram. There is lot of scope to re-write this story with much greater depth to the characters of Beram and Saxton Blake and stronger mystery element as I find the basic premise very interesting.
Overall I would say it is a light, quick and a different kind of read. It is definitely worth a try for novelty. As I close, let me mention I got this book as a free review copy through a joint initiative of Harper Collins and Indiblogger. The details of the initiative can be found here.