PLOT: 4.5/5
Genre: Historical Mystery, Historical Thriller
THEMES: Set in Andamans, World War 2, Indian Independence Struggle, Japanese in Andamans

Historical mysteries and thrillers are two of my favourite genres, blending the intrigue of history with the suspense of solving a mystery. Thus, it’s no surprise that I find myself naturally gravitating towards books within this realm. With that highly exciting genre, a captivating title and blurb, and an eye-catching & excellently designed cover, Piyush Rohankar’s ‘The Lost Treasure of Azad Hind Fauj’ has everything in it to create that great first impression. Hence naturally, I too was drawn towards it.

What is the book all about?

The book spans between the events of the First and Second World Wars, where on the Indian stage too, it is a period of great upheaval. All over the country, Indians are busy in their fight against the colonizers. It is during such turbulent times that many events occur.

The Azad Hind Fauj wants to establish the Azad Hind Bank at Port Blair, following the liberation of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands from the British. However, both the treasure and the brave souls sent to inaugurate the branch mysteriously vanish into thin air.

On the other hand, we have a daring British police officer who embarks on a perilous mission to secure a mysterious weapon hidden on a forbidden Nicobar Island. This weapon is believed to hold the key to turning the tide of World War II. The clue to locating this weapon? It’s hidden within the lines of a cryptic poem, adding a layer of mystery to the already perilous journey. Yet, as search parties from both British and Japanese forces set foot on the island, they too become swallowed by the island.

But the mysteries don’t end there. Enter a son’s desperate quest to uncover the truth behind his father’s disappearance during the Second World War. His journey leads him to a bunch of unread letters in Manipur that carry secrets from the past. Will he finally uncover the fate of his lost father? What became of the vanished treasure from the Azad Hind Bank? And why does the forbidden island of Nicobar claim so many lives without leaving a trace?

As these intertwined stories roll on, the narrative becomes a thrilling saga through history, where personal quests for truth collide with the shadows of the past.

The language

The book is written in a simple language that can be easily picked up by beginners

My thoughts – what I loved?

In “The Lost Treasure of Azad Hind Fauj,” Piyush Rohankar has crafted a captivating world that surpasses anything I could have conjured in my wildest dreams. The sheer uniqueness of the premise, the intricacy of the concept, and the seamless integration of geography and history are truly remarkable. While I’ve delved into books set within the World Wars or during India’s struggle for independence, encountering a narrative that intertwines both is a rare gem.

What sets this tale apart even further is its expansive cast of characters, spanning not only Indians and Britishers but also delving into the perspectives of Japanese, Germans, and the indigenous tribal peoples. This overlap is highly exciting, not to mention, creating so many fascinating layers to the mystery. One fallout of this could have been an overly complex tale, but surprisingly that is a non-issue here. The story is relatively easy to follow and is not marred by the myriad of characters and perspectives.

Then there’s the exhilarating treasure hunt, and who doesn’t love a good one? The atmospheric ambiance is so palpable that you can’t help but feel drawn to the enigmatic allure of these islands and the myriad secrets they hold.

Adding to the intrigue is a subtle touch of science fiction, which adds an extra layer of depth to the already dense mystery. But that’s not all – the narrative is rich with covert missions, political espionage, and undercover spies, creating a heady concoction of adventure and intrigue reminiscent of tales like Indiana Jones. It’s a journey filled with forbidden wonders and suspense that keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout.

“The Lost Treasure of Azad Hind Fauj” also delves into many unknown facets of Indian history, introducing us to a plethora of characters from the country’s independence struggle.

I particularly enjoyed the parts about Rash Behari Bose’s time in Japan. The Japanese setting and atmosphere are vividly captured. The narrative also sheds light on the Japanese liberation of the Andamans, exposing the crimes and atrocities committed against the local population. It adds a compelling new facet to our understanding of our own history.

What could have been better?

While “The Lost Treasure of Azad Hind Fauj” ambitiously tackles a vast and intricate subject, I couldn’t help but feel that certain tales and characters weren’t given the justice they deserved. Some subplots and characters felt underdeveloped, leaving me yearning for a more detailed exploration. It’s obvious that each of these settings and characters has the potential to anchor a full-fledged novel on its own.

Additionally, I noticed a slight disconnect between various parts of the narrative. At times, the writing felt rushed and lacking in cohesion, which detracted from the overall experience. While the creation of mystery is impeccable, its execution could benefit from a more deliberate approach. Some aspects are explained away hastily, likely due to constraints of space, but it leaves the reader wanting more depth and nuance. A bit of editing and further finetuning would have done wonders for the book.

In the end

In conclusion, “The Lost Treasure of Azad Hind Fauj” stands out as a remarkable book, unique in its ability to breathe new life into the pages of history. It sets a high benchmark for uncovering hidden stories and bringing them into the limelight. Personally, I’d eagerly anticipate a more expansive, fleshed-out version of the novel, or even a trilogy to delve deeper into the issues and characters introduced. Moreover, I also believe it is a great story and kicks all the boxes to be turned into a captivating web series, offering viewers the chance to immerse themselves fully in the rich tapestry of mystery, adventure, and historical intrigue.

Can’t wait to read it? Buy your copy of ‘The Lost Treasure of Azad Hind Fauj’ using the link below.