It Can’t Be You
By Prem Rao
Prem Rao’s debut novel – It Can’t Be You comes with a tag line – A Spiral Of Vengeance. It’s a psychological thriller and rightfully so it makes your grey cells race against time (as you rush to complete this interesting piece of work) to guess who the real killer is.
The story is about a certain Lt. Col. K. S. Belliappa, Indian Army (Retd.) and his mysterious death. His children, Shefali and Pritam, his second wife Elena, his loyal family retainer Bahadur, are all present in the house – the Roseneath Estate (Coorg, Karnataka) when his body is first spotted by Elena.
The very first line on the first page creates the suspense about the colonel’s death and intrigues you to read ahead. Over time, the chapters reveal the story behind each character and lead you to the climax of the spiral of vengeance triggered by Col. Belliappa.
Col. Belliappa is a very strong character. A meticulous army man with the strength and anger of a monster. His loyalty and patriotism for the country is unmatched. Just like Dinaz’s beauty and his Belli’s love for her. But the scars of the war (both mental and physical) combined with his possessiveness and jealousy, lead to many disrupts in their life and a sad/unexpected demise of Dinaz.
The saga is tightly spun to keep the readers from going astray. The characters are unique and bold and definitely relatable. The various institutions and regiments and various religions addressed in here make it quite an interesting and relatable read. Everything depicted in deep admiration and good faith.
The usual family fallouts –amongst children and parents; amongst spouses; amongst relatives; reveal the true Indian setting, which (strangely) does exist even today.
Shefali works in an advertising firm and is in love with Rashid, a Muslim guy, and plans on marrying him. As expected, her father is not in favor.
Pritam plans on being an architect, much against his father’s wish for him to join the Indian Army.
Elena, a graceful, sophisticated and charming young lady who always gets what she wants, is Belliappa’s second wife handling much of his business. Her beauty and charm and definitely her intelligence help her pave and bend the path as per her desire; which sometimes doesn’t appeal to the upright colonel.
They all seem to have a motive to get Col. Belliappa out of their way but who actually does the deed – is for the readers to find out for themselves.
The story begins with the death of Col. Belliappa; moves on to describe the various characters and their lives and finally comes back to the crime scene to reveal the killer – and closes with “the end of vengeance”.
Though this is a pure work of fiction, somewhere down the line, I felt as if it were a real story jotted down by an eye-witness who saw and read the minds of all the characters of the story. Yes, it reflects the very trait of a brilliant author! The instances and the details match up to reality to a great extent. The plot is definitely gripping and keeps you on the edge all the while.
Having met the author just once, years ago, while he was busy in his corporate world, he came across as quite a stern “dad” and an authoritative figure. But this story reveals an absolutely different side of his personality that lay hidden for years. A pleasant surprise!
Having turned to writing after almost 36 years of professional work as a Talent Management Specialist and an executive coach, his passion for spinning such a wonderful (and gripping) yarn makes him much worthy of respect and adoration!
Wonder what we have next in line? But whatever it is – I’m up for it!!!