Voice of the Runes
When Souls Connect but Vengeance Speakss
Anjana Basu, Kolkata
The mysterious runes which are dotted over Scandinavia and in parts of Europe are the subject of Manjiri Prabhu’s next mystic thriller. She brings back her journalist Re Parkar from her previous book who has been invited to his alma mater Lund University to be honoured for his contribution and his arrival coincides with the death of Professor Heinz who is about to reveal a terrible secret that he has discovered through his rune studies. Heinz’ student, the pretty Magdalena, who is also deeply involved in runes gets caught up in the mystery and loses her heart to the handsome Parkar.
Prabhu takes the reader on the rune by rune solution of what looks like an impending doomsday or, as the Norsemen called it, Ragnarok. There are horrific symbols scattered across the college like skulls and beheaded sphinxes and as in the best traditions of Da Vinci Code, there is a race against the clock, literally because Lundagard has one of those amazing astronomical clocks created in the Middle Ages which seems to hold a clue. Prabhu also throws in Swedish words and handicrafts to add to the sense of place, showing that she has researched her subject deeply and explored the terrain before settling down to tell her story adding to the authenticity of the atmosphere. Prabhu also delves into the world of runes setting the context for each stone that she describes.
Voice of the Runes is a pleasant read with dollops of mystery and romance and proves that India can also turn out its own Dan Brown, with undercurrents of violence that titillates without being too obtrusive. There is also a hint of the rivalries that stalk the corridors of academia, ones that can occasionally rise to murderous heights down the generations. Prabhu has a surprise in store for her readers but keeps it tucked up her sleeve with a hint here and there – occasionally though her pacey style does flag a bit.