Blending spirituality, philosophy, suspense and engaging literature can be a tricky challenge for some authors, as it can lean too far in either direction – pedantic prose to promote a belief system or a convoluted narrative that doesn’t espouse a clear message. However, in Sattar Memon’s second novel, Soul’s Fury, the balance is surprisingly well done.
While the author has written a number of books in the past, the majority of these have been directly related to spirituality, healing through faith, or other alternative philosophies. That being said, his 2012 book The Ashram was another fictional narrative and features the same exciting protagonist, Dr. Jonathan Kingsley.
Kingsley’s spiritual side and insatiable curiosity is once again put on display in this novel when he is drawn into a mysterious series of deaths and bizarre behavior that seems linked to a strange ashram that was recently established in the United States. This is closely related to his experiences in Memon’s first book, when he traveled to India in order to help abused women at an ashram there. Soul’s Fury reads as a follow-up, but with a very different plot, although some of the characters do return, and the writing is just as sharp and descriptively stunning as the first Kingsley book.
Gauri, the woman Kingsley had fallen in love with during the first book, is once more back as a supporting character, and gets sucked back into a similar path of danger and manipulation. There is more to this new ashram than spiritual enlightenment – something called extreme meditation, an exploration of death itself – and it may be far more dangerous than anyone understands. Kingsley may be practicing as a physician, but he has a detective quality to him that can’t be denied, and since he and Gauri are the ones Reba (a woman who died early on in the novel) encountered in the woods, he is inextricably involved.
The suspense in the writing is palpable, and Memon does a great job of keeping things hidden from readers, pushing them forward and encouraging them to guess which twist might be coming next. This book dances on the edge of murder mystery and spiritual narrative, and the author’s passion for ethereal disciplines is clear, yet not overwhelming or heavy-handed. As it turns out, the mysterious events are, as always, based in the weakness and failings of human nature, rather than any sort of divine involvement, but the narrative does lend itself to spiritual reflection. The action eventually reaches a fever pitch, and as thrillers go, Memon knows how to spin a tale that readers won’t put down.
Memon’s writing is lyrical and engaging, forcing readers to invest in each of the characters, and the scenes are never rushed. Wasting words is clearly not something this author believes in, and while Soul’s Fury is quite long, there are very few sections of unnecessary description or dialogue. The writing is also carefully polished by a skilled editor, and the number of allusions betrays a deep level of research, making this an even more immersive read.
Kingsley is a continually exciting lead character, as well as one that could definitely carry future novels, so hopefully there is more in store for this compelling protagonist.
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