A ‘pirate’ generally means the one who robs ships and therefore, considered an outlaw or a criminal. However, the limited knowledge of pirates and Jack Sparrow’s infamous movie series, Pirates of the Caribbean has turned pirates into legends and romantic heroes, who though acting outside law are not villains. Kulpreet Yadav’s latest thriller, The Girl Who Loved a Pirate brings home a story of pirates whose existence is as real as street thugs, as per the author who has worked as a Commander for two decades with the Indian Coast Guard.
Drawing on his experience, the author narrates a thrilling tale of murder, piracy, espionage and drugs which keep the reader going until the end.
The Girl Who Loved a Pirate begins with Ba-Qat, the ‘Pirate of the World’ who being in love with Dao-Ming resolves to renounce a life of piracy but before doing so, he decides to go for one last kill (plunder a ship) but it turns out to be his nemesis. Betrayed, he ends up being caught and locked up in a high-security Malaysian jail. Introducing a subplot, the story moves to Noida, where the reader is introduced to Andy Karan, an investigative journalist who is informed that his colleague has been murdered and it might be due to a drug story on which he was working. Andy goes to Goa to investigate the murder; however the plot thickens when the reader discovers that Andy is also an undercover spy on a payroll of the Indian government. Summoned by the Indian government, he is roped into a covert mission to capture a foreign ship carrying drugs. What further intricate the plot is the involvement of the pirate of the world and his girlfriend, Dao-Ming. And the suspense continues and unravels in the rave parties of Goa and high seas.
Constantly shifting from land to sea, Andy Karan is the connecting link between the stories. A master spy and a brilliant journalist, Andy is no Jason Bourne or James Bond; he is more of a Chief Inspector Jacques Clouseau from Pink Panther movie series. Not macho or violent, he is a spy with a conscience for whom killing is not easy, “He had killed a man. It was an evil thing to do. The inner voice echoed, loud and clear. But the man he killed had tried to kill him the previous night. After some hesitation the inner voice repeated: It was still a bad thing to do.”
Easily mistaken for a ‘careless man’, Andy doesn’t look like a super spy and escapes from dangerous situations more due to chance and wit than his physical prowess and this is his strength which makes him more relatable to the reader.
Though the book is well researched, both when it comes to geography and how the piracy operations are planned and the author makes a smooth transition between two different story lines; what befuddles the reader is the title. The reader picks up the book with an expectation to read the story about a girl who loved the pirate but throughout the book, the girl remains passive and in the backdrop of an entire action. Albeit, she drives the actions of the two lead characters; yet never features in the action herself and is not granted an enough space in the narrative to justify the title. Also, the attitude of the author towards the pirates remains slightly ambivalent; although they are no heroes, they also don’t turn out to be the villains of the piece.
Despite all these, the narrative is fast-paced, exhilarating and makes the reader privy to the maritime world which definitely makes the book a page-turner.