Hailed by critics and honored as a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, Season of the Monsoon, Paul Mann's first mystery set in the turbulent world of contemporary India, created a literary sensation. A bold, seductive series, the New York Times Book Review declared when The Ganja Coast, the second George Sansi mystery, appeared two years later. Now in The Burning Ghats, Paul Mann's Anglo-Indian hero returns for a triumphant third appearance in a spellbinding, intricately structured novel of political intrigue, corporate greed, and fierce passions.
India cherishes the river city of Varanasi as one of her most sacred places, for it is here on the burning ghats that the bodies of the devout dead are cremated and their ashes scattered over the Ganges. Yet it is at this blessed shrine that one of the most terrible human and ecological disasters of modern times takes place. As thousands of mourners bathe in the holy waters, a lethal chemical spill swirls down the river, literally consuming the flesh of all who come in contact with it. More than a thousand people die in agony, and thousands more are injured. In a nation still reeling from the poison gas disaster of Bhopal, a single question takes on hideous urgency: who is responsible for this outrage?
It is this question that ignites a personal crusade led by Rupe Seshan, the government's new minister for the environment and also one of the most ruthlessly ambitious, dangerously attractive women in India. Rupe knows that her political future hinges on moving swiftly and decisively, and so she places the Varanasi investigation in the hands of a shrewd and powerful friend--Bombay attorney George Sansi. The fact that George and Rupe had stopped just shy of becoming lovers years ago infuses a deep erotic undercurrent into their professional relationship.
As Sansi throws himself into the Varanasi case, he amasses more and more evidence implicating the invincible rich and unscrupulous magnate Madhuri Amlani and his Renown Industries in the chemical spill. Sansi braces for a vicious legal battle with Amlani--but the showdown in court is only the opening skirmish in an all-out war involving cover-ups, blackmail, and assassination at the highest levels of power. As he sees his allies destroyed and the governments authority undermined, George Sansi realizes that he alone has the power--and the knowledge--to topple Amlani. But can he use what he knows before Amlani crushes him?
In The Burning Ghats, Paul Mann captures the turmoil, the excitement, and the danger attending India's monumental struggle to transform itself into a major economic power. Written with grace and wit, mesmerizing in its suspense, imbued with the rich, erotic sensuousness of the Indian subcontinent, The Burning Ghats is at once a profound work of fiction and a terrifically compelling read.
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Published November 5, 1996
by Ballantine Books.
Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction.