Title: The Colossus
Author: Ranjini Iyer
“The pills extended lives, the locals said. But something in them choked life away, too. The pills were cursed. Samuel Rosen didn’t believe in curses. He was a scientist. And he was determined to unlock the secret this little pill had held for so very long.”
The Colossus is a thriller novel which centres on Max, a caterer whose life is turned upside-down when she begins to uncover the truth about the research her father carried out before he died. All too quickly she finds out that a powerful German pharmaceutical company, Berliner, are hell-bent on finding out about her late father’s research as well. Immersed in his work, and trying hard to decode it, Max and researcher Julian McIntosh must figure out the truth before Berliner does, but when she does discover what he found, would she rather have stayed ignorant to the truth?
I loved how Iyer weaved cultural and historical references into the plot of the novel. It made the plot more plausible, and also felt like I was learning something as I was reading – even if the main plot was fictional, it’s base and context was cemented in real events which I really enjoyed. One thing I will say though, is that Iyer wasn’t very smooth at subtly educating the reader on something they would need to know in order to understand the plot. For example, one character would just explain the story of Tutankhamen’s tomb to another character which didn’t make for a very delicate addition to the plot.
I did like how there were lots of short chapters is this book because it really help keep it fast-paced. As a thriller, it’s so important that the book is a page-turner, or you’ll just lose interest immediately, and seeing as I read this book in about three sittings, it’s safe to say it held my attention well. Plus, because there was a lot of action peppered throughout the book, this help it keep my attention too.
One aspect of the novel I was a little bothered by was the romance – I love romance in novels, and usually I’m always rooting for them, but in this one, because I liked the premise so much, I found myself wanting the romance bits to be over so we could get back to the mystery. Luckily, Iyer didn’t ever focus on it too much, but for me, it was just an unnecessary plot element.
Overall this novel was interesting, fast-paced, and enjoyable. Iyer did a good job of creating a believable plot, cemented in truth, while also embellishing with a fantastical thriller fiction as well. Her mystery The Colossus felt like a Dan Brown-esque novel and from someone who loves his writing, that’s a huge compliment! I would definitely love to read more of her work, and hopefully learn about another cultural/historical event in the world.