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“Why do you follow Aldo? What makes you believe in him?”

“We have no one else we can follow.” Cesare replied.

Hallmark of a classic is that it remains relevant across time. This book isn’t Daphne’s best, but it is startling in its eerie & hideous parallels with today’s India. See if you can spot’em.

Premise: The tale is narrated by Beo and largely fixated on Aldo. The story itself has inbuilt parallels between Gothic fantasy and modern Rome. Tourist guide Beo chances upon the murder of a tramp, who turns out to be his old nanny Martha. Seeking her murderer and filled with nostalgia, Beo returns to his hometown Ruffano, but incognito. Here, he meets a ghost resurrected from his childhood.

Aldo is a Professor. But demure, benign or modest? Not he! Aldo is a power monger, a megalomaniac with delusions of grandeur.

‘He who ceases to see anything great in God will find it nowhere. He must either deny it or create it.’

·         His dream – to recreate the chariot ride of the sinister Duke Claudio.

·         His game plan – ‘The proud shall be stripped, the haughty violated, the slanderer silenced and the viper die in his own venom.’

·         His arsenal: College students. He whips up the sentiments of hot blooded, myopic, restless student groups (Commerce vs Arts) to the point of creating mass hysteria, riots, mayhem, rape and murder.

·         His designs are veiled, except to Beo. Aldo uses his charisma and his eloquence to create a cult of berserk fanatics. For his grand finale, Aldo unleashes all his venom through his devoted followers.

Can Beo confront his childhood Hero?

Can Beo shake off the awe and see through Aldo’s maniacal plans?

Can Aldo fly like the mythical Falcon or will he succeed in scaling even higher heights?

Strengths: Daphne’s characters stay true to her narrative style. Just as in Rebecca, it is the muted, subdued, mediocre person who speaks about a more fascinating, riveting personality. It is usually the steady, plodding narrator who survives till the end. The other one lives shorter, but more vivid and vibrant, like a brief burst of flames.

The questions remain – Which one truly lived their life? Which person haunts your mind after that last page is turned? Will History keep repeating its themes until humanity understands?

Title: The Flight of the Falcon

Pages: 320

Price: Rs 355/-

Kindle price: 332/-

Genre: Psychological Thriller , Suspense, semi-Gothic