review by showhost, sept 2016.
If you loved Shantaram you will like this one (my opinion - not as good as Shantaram). It is a massive tome with over 800 pages and in hardback so no easy read when you are reading in bed. It was lovely to meet up with old friends like Didier, Abdullah, Karla and of course Shantaram himself.
Shantaram, for those who never read it, was based on a true story of an Australian who broke out of prison and ran to Bombay to hide. He ended up working and living in the slums and became a non qualified doctor to those slum dwellers & friend. They call him Lin. He made his money forging passports working for the mafia (the company). He had so many risky adventures, police brutality and gang violence plus a stint in Afghanistan that I was amazed he survived. He also sat in council with the very wise Khaderbhai.
In this sequel, Lin/Shantaram comes back from a stint away to find things have changed in the company which was Khaderbhai’s and not all to his liking, nor is the new leader Sanjay. Shantaram is living with Lisa but still in love with Karla whom he has not seen for 2 years. Karla has married Ranjit. The company is not being run with the same wisdom or fairmess of play. When a girl and her drug addicted boyfriend, who are travellers in India, buy some bad drugs, the boyfriend dies. Sharantam traces the bad stuff back to the company he works for and it starts to question his believe in what he is doing. There are also people being brought into the company who are not good people – one of them a big Irishman Concannon who puts a 24 hour contract out on Shantaram.
Karla comes back into his life through her husband who is worried for her safety because of his dodgy business dealings. He wants Shantaram to protect her from his enemies due to his shifty dealings with money.
Shantaram is sent away to Sri Lanka on a business deal. On his return his girlfriend Lisa is dead – verdict is overdose. Shantaram and those close to him do not believe it and they vow to find who was with her in his flat before she dies.
Hope starts to glimmer for Shantaram and Karla but it is a very tentative relationship. Karla wants him to give up his dodgy illegal business and join her in her ligit PI for lost loves business. Their paths continually cross and unwind.
There is an awful lot of ‘musing’ of gurus and wise men which pads out the book. I enjoyed these in the first book as there weren’t that many and I understood them but felt there was way too much in this sequel plus most of them I didn’t understand especially the pages on the spiritual talk with Idriss. But that aside (in fact I skipped some of these pages and didn’t miss a beat with the story) I really enjoyed the book when things/action happened and also enjoyed catching up with old characters again and meeting some new ones. You must read Shantaram first to appreciate this sequel