The Krishna Key is Good, but Not the Best
Trigger Warning: Violent murder
I remember, a few years back, my dad gave me The Krishna Key, telling me that it’s a brilliant book. I promised him I’d read it but then his warning stopped me – he said, “Ananya, make sure you have the time to look up Ashwin Sanghi’s claims in the book. Follow his research because you’ll learn a lot from it.”
See, I didn’t have to do anything of the sort at that time. I was in the 11th standard or something then, running around from school to class and then back home to study.
The book lay in my bookshelf, gathering dust, and I never somehow got the motivation to pick it up.
I’m so grateful for the hosts of the #nameinthetitlereadathon for motivating me to pick this up! The book would have probably sat around in my bookshelf for even longer if not for the readathon!
Anyway…I have mixed feelings about this book.
I’ll delve into my feelings in just a bit, but first…
Five thousand years ago, Krishna was born on the earth. The eighth avatar (incarnation) of Lord Vishnu, he brought about several miracles for humanity. As all avatars, he had to die as well, but he promised that he would return as the Kalki avatar in the eventual Dark Age.
Cut to the present, a young boy grows up believing he’s the avatar. There’s only one problem:
He’s a serial killer.
But things are more complicated than a man believing that he’s God. His gruesome murders are part of a sinister conspiracy to find an ancient artefact – Krishna’s priceless legacy to mankind.
Historian Ravi Mohan Saini, framed for the first murder, dashes from place to place to prove his innocence and discover the location of the artefact. From the submerged remains to Dwarka to the icy heights of Mount Kailash, the tale takes our hero to every corner of India to prevent the killer from striking again; and to find the gift Krishna left behind.
At the beginning of this month, when I (regrettably) read Frozen Tears, I was lamenting about the lack of research in that book. I had long rants with a bookstagram friend about this very fact and that was cathartic. But I still think about how egregiously un-researched books are so unsatisfying to read from time to time.
Even sadder, I’ve found that newer Indian authors often neglect the research phase when they’re writing a book and every time I read or hear about a badly researched book by an Indian author, it becomes harder to let go of the stereotype that the authors of my country just can’t be bothered to make the effort.
With all this going around in circles in my head, it was incredibly refreshing to read this painstakingly researched book. Every claim the author makes has been substantiated by references at the back of the book and Google. Some of those claims might be conspiracy theories, but the theories exist and are even popular!
I didn’t Google all the facts…only some of the most outrageous claims. But each search got me hits that confirmed the claim as at least an existing theory!
That said, I couldn’t help but feel like all the research and facts and claims mentioned in the book detracted from the story.
In every chapter, some character (be it a protagonist, a villain, or a victim) would go into a long sermon about some research or the other. It got a little annoying and took the thrill out of the thriller.
I feel like the book could have been about two-thirds its length and the plot would have remained unaffected.
But then, the author did manage to pace his revelations out very well, considering the droning lectures that could have bored me into DNFing the book. A major plot twist in the middle (I was definitely not expecting it), then little revelations throughout kept me invested in the story.
Another thing I really loved was the detailed character development. Every important character was given a backstory; a reason for doing what they did – even the antagonist(s). There were times when I wondered, “Why the heck does this person know so much about Hindu mythology and history?” and then the author would hit me with a backstory and everything would make sense.
Otherwise, well, it was not the best book in the world for me, because the long sermons about the history of such and such artefact completely took away the thrill of the book.
I usually measure how much I like a book (especially a thriller) by how long it takes me to read it – the longer it takes, the less appealing it is. Well, this one took me 2 weeks because it took time to digest all the claims – and parts of it felt like a history textbook.
Hence, the mixed feelings.
I admire the author immensely for the detailed character development and the painstaking research that went into every page of the book (I mean, seriously…this is a fiction book with REFERENCES, for goodness sake), but the pace could have been faster.
I recommend this book to anyone who likes thrillers and Hindu mythology and doesn’t mind a book that’ll remind them of a history textbook from time to time.
About the Author
Ashwin Sanghi, one of India’s highest-selling English fiction writers, is also sometimes known as the Dan Brown of India for his style. He grew up in Mumbai and has an MBA from Yale University.
He has written several bestsellers, one of which is The Krishna Key. He’s also collaborated with James Patterson on two New York Times bestselling crime thrillers. He also mentors, co-writes and edits titles in the 13 Steps Series on subjects like Luck, Wealth, Health and Parenting.
He’s been in Forbes India’s Celebrity 100 list and New Indian Express’s Culture Power List. He’s won several awards for his works. He now lives in Mumbai with his wife, Anushika, and his son, Raghuvir.