One of the best books that I've read written by an Indian author, The Trail of Four is a delightful thriller that's set in Austria. The writing has a sparkle that's hard to miss. There were moments when I was not sure if this book has indeed been written by an Indian author. Even though I found the opening a bit slow for my taste, a superb prologue and flawless writing carried me along. When finally I was bitten by the intriguing plot, I read this book like a possessed reader.
The plot. Set in Salzburg, Austria, the novel opens with Re Parker, the Indo-French protagonist getting a vision that the Schloss Leopoldskorn is under threat. Having ignored such a vision in the past, which became the reason for his sister's death and his lifelong repentance, Re decides to warn Dan, the current owner of the Schloss. But his vision is rejected by Dan as the Salzburg Global Seminar is scheduled the very next day with the guests expected to arrive in a few hours. However, as the heart of the archbishop buried in the Scholss is stolen, Dan gives him some rope. The two them do have a clue but need someone who is aware of the history of the Schloss and its enigmatic owner, Max Reinhardt.
Reinhardt, we are told, had to abandon his treasured property in 1937 as if fell to the advancing German troops. As Re is able to convince Dan for helping him solve the clues, Isabel comes into the picture. Isabel is a historian who at the moment is an emotional wreck as her husband of one year has gone missing. He just vanished one evening and even though she is confident that he loves her, she is unable to understand the reasons for his disappearance. Isabel approaches Stefan, the Police chief, who was once her lover, but without success.
Stefan is pulled into the investigation by Dan. If the mystery is not found, the warning in the clue says, the city will be devastated. Solving the puzzle is a race against time and Re with the help of Isabel starts to solve the quagmire. Dan, in the meantime, continues with the seminar. I won't tell you anymore, because giving too much away will dilute the fun that you will experience as you read this 360-page cracking mystery thriller.
Quite frankly, I'm not a big fan of thrillers which are set in the past particularly when the plot thrives on the rediscovery of art and religion through reinterpretation and clever thinking of modern day investigators. But The Trail of Four is so good that I enjoyed the story and its pace. Austria, a country that was never anywhere on my wish list of places-to-travel, is now right on the top after reading this book.
Buy The Trail of Four by Manjiri Prabhu by clicking here.