The tale offers hints of the supernatural and a handful of action sequences, yet this is a science-minded procedural through and through. The climax is essentially a long lecture in a committee meeting, yet the revelations it provides and the tense politics surrounding the investigation provide a satisfying capstone to the mysteries Nathan has established. The denouement, though, is more explosive, boasting some shocking betrayals, though that proves less gripping than Kumar's dazzling use of scientific inquiry to guide a thorough, government-sponsored investigation of the Taj Mahal's true origins.
The action sequences are icing for a meaty narrative that, for all the conspiratorial twists and turns, stands as a tribute to the power and appeal of science and the pursuit of truth in the face of superstition and politics. Nathan’s extensive research into the origins of this palace of secrets, as well as fascinating Indian politics and history, distinguish this thoughtful page turner, lending welcome verisimilitude to the story’s mysteries and inventions.
Takeaway: Fans of procedural thrillers and archeological mysteries will be delighted by this tale of the Taj Mahal.
Great for fans of: John Shors's Beneath a Marble Sky, DJ Niko’s Sarah Weston series, Devika Cariapa’s India Through Archaeology: Excavating History.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A
WARNING- ADRENALINE SURGE ZONE AHEAD!
Well researched and well written! A gripping novel that u just can't put down- a welcome break from binge-watching streaming media!
[Reviewed in the United States on October 6, 2021. Verified Purchase]
Secrets and Mystery!
Vijay Kumar, an archaeologist is charged with discovering the mystery surrounding the Raaz Mahal. However, outside forces complicate matters turning the mystery deadly. Kumar is racing the clock and those wanting the secrets for themselves.
Author, Neal Nathan delivers an attention-holding mystery with intrigue, action, and well-developed characters. Graphic in his descriptions, Nathan creates a captivating mystery. The dialog is authentic, and the characters are well-developed allowing the story to flow effortlessly and smoothly.
The narrator, Joshua Paul Seeger delivers a striking performance. His voice is crystal clear, and his delivery is smooth. His tone reflected the mood of the story as well as being reflective of each character’s personality.
This is an intriguing mystery based on a well-known historical monument. Whether you enjoy creative fiction with historical references or just a good solid mystery, this is a book you should read.
There were no issues with the quality or production of this audiobook. The production was clear and well-done.
Disclaimer: This Audiobook was provided free of charge by the author, narrator, and/or publisher in exchange for a non-bias, honest review.
Copyright 2021, AudiobookReviewer, LLC
Spilling royal secrets
By DR. SUPANTHA BHATTACHARYA
Tagore had this to say about it “You know Shah Jahan, life and youth, wealth and glory, they all drift away in the current of time. You strove therefore, to perpetuate only the sorrow of your heart? Let the splendor of diamond, pearl and ruby vanish? Only let this one teardrop, this Taj Mahal, glisten spotlessly bright on the cheek of time, forever and ever.” Sir Edwin Arnold, the English poet, thought it to be “Not a piece of architecture, as other buildings are, but the proud passions of an emperor’s love wrought in living stones.” Shakeel Badayuni called it an everlasting and universal symbol of love while the iconoclastic Sahir Ludhianvi viewed it as a cruel example of exploitation and royal privilege rather than romantic glory. And now, Neal Nathan, in his edgy, fast-paced thriller – Raaz Mahal – has reimagined it as a mausoleum containing a heart-stopping mystery and subtitled it The Palace of Secrets.
The novel opens in Burhanpur, 400 years ago when Aliya Begum, also known as Arjumund Banu Begum or Mumtaz Mahal, the chief consort of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan dies during her fourteenth childbirth. Six months later, we are given hints of some remarkable secret being buried with her coffin on the banks of the Jamuna, in Agra.
The narrative then moves sixty years into the future and two grave-robbers are summarily executed for committing the unpardonable crime of vandalizing the queen’s tomb. This is followed by a leap into the 1960s when it is suggested that the secret buried in the grave is precarious enough for the then powers that were to ruthlessly eliminate anybody threatening its disclosure.
In the third part of the novel, we find ourselves in the present times. The Bureau of Archaeology (BoA) receives a strange petition under the Right-To-Information (RTI) Act. It demands that the bureau disclose authentic historical evidence for the legend of the Taj Mahal, India’s pride, and the architectural wonder of the world. The bureau instructs a brilliant but maverick archaeologist, Vijay Kumar, to explore the case. The more Vijay Kumar gets embroiled into the case, the more he discovers that the RTI case is not as uncomplicated as it appears to be. Inexplicable events begin to cast shadows over his investigation. There are baffling deaths and things acquire an international slant with the Interpol entering the picture. Vijay Kumar sets off on a pursuit across continents to discover the truth, but appearances are deceptive and he has no idea whom he can trust. He suspects he is the fall guy in a bizarre conspiracy spanning centuries, merely an insignificant pawn that can be easily sacrificed to keep lips closed. As the story hurtles towards a breathtaking finale, Vijay Kumar has to bring to bear all his skills not merely to survive but also to unearth the long-buried secret that could cause a national cataclysm.
Neal Nathan, who is an IT & management consultant, has crafted a desi version of the Dan Brown template, creating an absorbing mélange of history, myth, fiction along with a nonconformist protagonist to give readers a racy plot full of twists and turns and omg moments. Had the book been edited tighter and made just a wee bit more fat-free, it could have been right up there among the best of historical thrillers.
[The review was first published in The Hitavada on Feb 20, 2022]
Launched, the audiobook version of the 2021 debut historical thriller that unravels the secrets of the marble mausoleum
A thrilling novel of one of the world’s wonders”
— Thierry Sagnier, author of ‘Dope’.
FAIRFAX, VA, UNITED STATES, March 14, 2022 /EINPresswire.com/ -- Most of the people think of the famous Taj Mahal in India as the magnificent mausoleum in marble, a symbol of love, erected by Mughal emperor Shahjahan for his wife Mumtaz that took twenty-two years, twenty thousand laborers, and architects from far off places to build … so on and so forth.
But now, according to Dr. S. Bhattacharya in The Hitavada, “Neal Nathan, in his edgy, fast-paced thriller – Raaz Mahal – has reimagined it as a mausoleum containing a heart-stopping mystery, and subtitled it The Palace of Secrets … creating an absorbing mélange of history, myth, fiction along with a nonconformist protagonist to give readers a racy plot full of twists and turns and OMG moments.” 
Produced by ACX, the just-released audiobook of 'Raaz Mahal - The Palace of Secrets' has invited positive reactions from readers and reviewers alike. “A caper in the tradition of The da Vinci Code. An interesting take on a story we thought we already knew about the Taj Mahal,” commented one audiobook listener on Audible.com.  “The narrator, Joshua P. Seager delivers a striking performance,” says Charla White at Audiobookreviewer.com and adds, “Whether you enjoy creative fiction with historical references or just a good solid mystery, this is a book you should read.” 
The story unfolds in Agra, India - the city of the Taj Mahal - where the Bureau of Archaeology (BoA) receives a bizarre petition under the Right-To-Information (RTI) Act, demanding the bureau disclose authentic historical evidence for the legend of the World Heritage monument. The bureau dumps the case on Vijay Kumar, a brilliant but maverick archaeologist, who discovers that the RTI case is not as straightforward as it sounds. Mysterious deaths and an Interpol alert make matters worse. Vijay Kumar sets off on an international pursuit to discover the truth, where he can trust no one but himself.
The readers might wonder, has someone set up Vijay Kumar? Is he in danger? And above all, will he be able to unveil the truth behind the legend, or … will it forever remain a secret? And, when Chopra, Superintending Archaeologist in the story, asks the protagonist, “So, what do you think, Vijay? Is the current story of the Taj Mahal credible? … What is the real story?”, Vijay answers, “Sir, the evidence has spoken for itself!”
Neal Nathan — who has had a long career in Information Technology and Management consulting in the public sector, working for technology and consulting firms — has penned “a thrilling novel of one of the world’s wonders,” says Thierry Sagnier, author of ‘Dope’.
The 8-hour-long audiobook of ‘Raaz Mahal - The Palace of Secrets’ is available at Audible.com, Amazon, and Apple Books. Leading online retailers are offering paperback, eBook, or hardcover editions.
[Sources/  eHitavada.com  Audible.com  Audibookreviewer.com]
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