Home / Books / The 1st Assassin: A Unit 22 Thriller By Mainak Dhar | Book Review

The 1st Assassin: A Unit 22 Thriller By Mainak Dhar | Book Review

Do you love reading thrillers?

We do.

And, that’s why we keep looking for interesting thrillers.

Mainak Dhar is amongst the authors whose thrillers we find interesting.

We’ve read and reviewed a few books penned by him. Here is a list of some of them.

Fortunately, we also got a chance to have a small author interview with him. You can read it by following the link below:

So, when we came to know about his Unit 22 Thriller book series, we were curious to explore it.

Book Title : The 1st Assassin
A Unit 22 Thriller Unit 22 Thrillers
Author :
Published by : Anecdote Publication House ( 1 January 2023)
# of Pages : 300 (Paperback) 304; 1760 KB (Kindle EBook)
# of Chapters : 9
Purchase Link(s) :

Fortunately, the first book in the series – The 1st Assassin – was available as a part of Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program (as well as, at a very attractive price to purchase); so how can we give it a miss?!

From our team I got a chance to read this book and here are my uninfluenced views and reviews for the same.

Book Cover:

Being a gateway to the virtual world explored within, the cover page is responsible for making the first impression of the book it is associated with. We, human beings, are attracted towards beauty, by nature, and thus, despite believing in the fact that a book should not be judged by its cover, we also acknowledge its influence in many purchase and/or read decisions.

So, let us take a look at the cover page of The 1st Assassin.

The 1st Assassin: A Unit 22 Thriller By Mainak Dhar | Book Cover

The 1st Assassin: A Unit 22 Thriller By Mainak Dhar | Book Cover

As you can see, the word “1st” is seen through a sniper’s marker. This gesture sets the environment right. The background displays a remarkable building and the protagonist running towards it, represents the quest of finding the culprit and sabotage the terror plan. The golden spots adds to the impact.

Definitely, an attractive cover page.

Storyline:

Let us take a bird’s eye view of the book plot.

Major Aditya Sen is a former para commando who served special forces and conducted missions which officially were never happened. In one such operation he lost his buddies and he was barely survived. Though with the treatment, he got back his physical form, but his mental state is not yet what it used to be.

Wars leave the scars both physical and mental. The loss of your blood-brothers, especially when you are in-charge of team and thus responsible for the safety of its members, keep a troll on your soul. Those memories keep haunting you. Though, he is getting psychiatric treatment and there is a lot of improvement, he is not fully recovered yet, and probably will never be.

He is currently assigned a desk job and tries keeping his temper in control. But, by nature, he is a soldier. And, he don’t hesitate calling a spaded -a spade. No matter if he is talking to his subordinates, superiors or politicians.

The US president is due to visit India in near future. So, there is a team including Amy Khan, Donzel Bethune, and others is arrived in India, to make sure their president’s visit be safe and secure. While the security analysis is going on, based on a tip and lead received, IB and R&AW found that there could be a potential threat to the life of the US president.

While following one such trail, Aditya barely saved his life but his informant who could lead to the potential details about any such plan lost his life among a shootout. Eventually, the Indian special forces form a team to follow the things up and it should work closely with the US team. And, they should share important intel with each other.

Aditya was offered to lead it and eventually “Unit 22” has been re-formed.

On a personal front, Aditya’s mother was caught by cancer again after 7 years and there is an experimental drug that could have been tested on her on priority basis, if Aditya joins the force. He happily accepts the offer. His mother, a wife of a solider, a mother of a soldier, is a fighter in herself. She keeps motivating Aditya for the mission and their future together.

Is there really a conspiracy going on to kill the US president, or the team is simply over estimating the things? What is the real conspiracy? Will Aditya survive? Will he lose more buddies, relatives during the mission?

Well, you need to read the book to get the answers. Over the course, you will meet with Manoj Kumar Pandey (Minister of State for Home Affairs), Sean D’Silva, Salil Murthy, Srini Iyer, Doctor Mugdha Hadap, Gurung, Thapa, Mullah Azam, Amy Khan, Donzel Bethune, Ajay Pillai, Bin Azam, Ankit Sharma, Surinder Raina, Munaf Khan, Mahesh Shukla, Bharathi, Vihaan, Unni, Kishore, Bahadur, Pratap, Ryan Jameson, Arif Soleimani, DCP Niladri Banerjee, Major General Rathore, Charles Walker, and others. Of course, some of them have mere mentions and some have a very small role to play while others are available throughout the story.

Views and Reviews:

The pace of the book and the layered characters are the strongest attributes of the book.

Of course, it all work well, only if the story is captivating.

In those aspects, 1st Assassin proves to be a worthy choice.

The author doesn’t take much time to introduce you to the primary characteristics of the prominent characters. The meeting with a minister and Aditya’s behavior there, says a lot about the imperfect political structure and how it can be at loggerheads with true patriots. At the same time, it also elaborates how the intermediate bosses works as lubricants between these frictional particles so the entire machine run smoothly.

The commandoes, who actually put their life at risk in dangerous mission, are straight-forward by nature. And, even if they don’t agree with some political decisions, they goes in sync with the disciplinary measures of their respective agencies.

Remaining in tensed situations almost always, they develop dark humor and satirical mindset that offer them relief.

Quoting one such line from the book:

Here’s some free career advice- when the man who could fire you says something that makes you angry, don’t let him know you want to kill him.

The troll that takes on such bravehearts’ soul is the loss of their buddies.

I could live with that; I’d learned to live with a lot worse. For example, I had learned to live with myself. More or less, other than the nights when I used to wake up dreaming of dead buddies, wanting nothing more than to put a gun in my mouth and end it all.

In fact, the khookri, a knife like weapon that Aditya is given as a souvenir that he uses as a life-saving resource, belonged to Thapa. One of the buddies who was captured and brutally killed by the enemies. It is possibly one of the closest-to-heart possession of Aditya. They are not called buddies, just for the sake of it. They remain there with and within each other, even when they don’t exist physically anymore.

The author uses some unconventional words to elaborate day-to-day scenario that goes in sync with the persona of the respective character.

He rifled through the file in front of him.

See, how interesting the line became when the phrase “rifled through” is uses instead of “going through” or “reading” or similar ones. Here is another interesting example:

If looks could kill, Sean D’Silva was blowing holes in me with an RPG launcher.

Also, planning an operation or passing an order or judging a situation from within the safe, secure and comfortable office premises, is different than working actually on ground. Sometimes, you need to take spot-decisions which could have been debated later, but in that moment of judgment, that is the only way you can act. This significant fact is elaborated in the book at multiple places. For example, when Aditya had to just oversee a meeting between an informant and possible culprits, and the things changed on ground forces him to act.

The author says (through a character):

When a man in the line of work I had been in gets told off by his bosses, he takes it standing up like a man, not on his ass on a soft chair like a bureaucrat.

The author further elaborates:

That is the skill of people like him, a skill you and I will never learn. Take the credit when you can, but never take the hard decisions, get others to do so. If the decisions work out well, you can take credit for nudging others to look into it. If they don’t work out well, you can blame others who actually took the decision.

And, the protagonist keeps his mind open for ideas and even keep learning how to deal with the bureaucracy, because whether you like it or not, you need to deal with the stuff.

Maybe my stint in an office in Delhi had taught me something after all- how to push all the right buttons on a bureaucrat. Call him ‘sir’ to make him feel more important, and then make him worry about losing face in front of his bosses.

Because he learnt…

One where your enemy was often not the man shooting at you, but someone wearing a suit having coffee with you.

If you know how to present your point effectively, often few words are enough. You don’t need to write essays to prove your point. Here are some simple yet effective lines from the book.

If you can’t handle the heat, you shouldn’t be in the kitchen.”
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Irresistible force meets an immovable object.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
… in war, it’s the stupid who die first.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Sometimes you feel most empowered when you accept that you can’t change everything.

You might not have expected, but the book has some lines exploring psychological analysis of human behavior.

Remember the story of the genie in the lamp? Well, think of your body as a lamp or perhaps a bottle. When you lose control of yourself, what comes out is not a helpful genie, but a terrible rakshas.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Anger was like a flame that burned out of control, burning everything in its path, burning you. Rage was something you could hope to control and direct against the target you wanted to turn to ashes.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
… being a man who was trained to inflict violence on others did not make one a man who enjoyed it?

The beauty of parent-child relationship is explored quite nicely and I consider it a strong positive point of the book. Here are some lines in the same regards.

“You’re a soldier’s mother and a soldier’s wife. You made me brave all the times I wanted to give up, all the times I was scared. Now, you can’t give up on yourself.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
“Ma, it’s okay.” “It’s not okay if you’re not okay.” That is how mothers are, I guess, or how mine is. She was lying on a hospital bed, going through experimental medication for cancer, and had nearly been kidnapped and killed in the last couple of days. Yet, her biggest concern was whether I was feeling okay.

Of course, there are war and strategy related discussions in the book:

…my natural inclination was to go in hard and fast, but my officers had taught me that sometimes the best way to prepare for a strike was to launch a diversionary attack elsewhere.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
You are a true soldier in the sense that you’re focused on the mission, winning the here and now.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
“You think like a soldier, not a spy. They aren’t out for revenge. They want leverage over you.”
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
As much as the government hated to admit, it needed men like me. Some problems couldn’t be solved by motivational speeches, political rallies, or summits in air- conditioned rooms. Some problems needed to be solved by a well- placed bullet or a cut throat.

The book talks about army, terrorism, wars at various fronts and other such stuff. And, at the same time, the author conveys:

Some of us are lucky enough to have those who love us enough to heal those scars and prevent us from succumbing to those demons. Others are not. I had also learned that revenge didn’t heal scars, love did.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
If more people saw and smelled that, I suspect our leaders would be less trigger happy about starting wars they didn’t have to fight and die in.

And yes, the author talks about various areas of science (physics, chemistry, biology,..) like:

The tibia, or in common parlance, the shinbone, is an interesting bone. It looks unassuming, 30 to 40 centimeters long and between 1 and 2 millimeters wide, but the tibias carry almost eighty percent of the body’s weight.

And, then after such elaboration he says something like:

See, simple soldiers like me know some fancy biology too.

I liked these lines and they are found in the 2nd installment of the series as well!

And yes, the author mentions a famous book shop in Delhi 🙂

“Doesn’t matter where I am. Let’s meet at Bahrisons bookshop in Khan Market.”

There are some lines which could have been written better. Eg:

Why was someone like him in Delhi for the investigation?

Like many Indian authors, Mainak also uses words like “anyways” in the book. And, by now, I guess, it is widely used and the dictionaries are going to include it 🙂

The quotes must have given you a fair idea about the quality of writing in this book. And, now you can conclude the book with its share of highs and lows, matches your reading preferences or not.

Summary:

I found it a fantastic thriller that remains true to its genre. A book, definitely worth reading.

ThinkerViews Rating:

Around 8 stars out of 10.

Quick Purchase Links:

Over To You:

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