cover image The Mountain Shadow

The Mountain Shadow

Gregory David Roberts. Grove, $32.50 (880p) ISBN 978-0-8021-2445-6

Set mostly in modern Bombay, Roberts's sequel to Shantaram defies easy categorization, one of its many charms. The dashing hero Lin (short for Lindsay), an Australian fugitive, is worldly, two-fisted, rides a motorcycle, has a social conscience, quotes great writers and, as the book opens, struggles bravely to get over his lost love, Karla, who's now married to wealthy power broker Ranjit. Lin's working to forget Karla via a new girlfriend, Lisa, with bittersweet results. Lin works as a passport forger for the local crime syndicate. He narrates his interactions with many larger-than-life street types in an energetic and often salty first person. Roberts's cast of characters, while colorful, is also dauntingly large, and there's a sense of entering the story in the middle. A reader unfamiliar with the earlier novel will need some time to get grounded. To counterbalance, Roberts keeps the action moving and the narrative engaging. The sprawling and episodic plot involves minor scrapes with crime kingpins as well as local tensions between Iranian and Afghan emigres in the city. Sensing Lin's obsession with Karla, it is Lisa who engineers a reunion of the two ex-lovers. Violence ultimately shatters the love triangle, which is the strongest aspect of this strong novel. This series of robust, retro capers with contemporary trappings will have readers feverishly turning the pages. Agent: Joe Regal, Regal Hoffmann and Associates. (Oct.)