“The Big Fix” by Vikas Singh is an enthralling fictional book which discovers the murky world of match-fixing with the emergence of the T20 franchises. Nishad Pai Vaidya reviews the book and describes it as a must read for a cricket fan or any avid reader.
If anyone ever wanted intrigue and suspense combined with the India’s favourite sport — cricket — Vikas Singh’s The Big Fix is a fantastic read. It is an enthralling novel which focuses on cricket and throws light on things which may be away from the public eye. Although, a fictional account that highlights a web of lies in the murky backdrop of betting and spot-fixing, the reader is gripped by the style as it has a realistic tinge to it. It is entertaining and keeps you engaged throughout; letting the cat out of the bag in an almost unexpected finale.
Set in the fictional T20 league called Indian Champions Trophy (ICT), the story revolves around an experienced cricketer — Shaurya Chauhan — who is the captain of the franchise Capital Cavaliers. While his team is struggling to stay alive and qualify for the knock-outs, his own personal form has taken a severe hit. To make matters worse, the coach of the side, Howard Jensen, is found wounded and in serious condition in his hotel room. At this juncture, Shaurya has to not only bind his team together, but also ward off the fact that he is one of the suspects in Jensen’s assault.
As the story unfolds, one realises that the betting syndicate, too, has a role to play in the tournament. Mitakshara, a young female reporter is covering the whole story and helps the police bring the pieces together. Shaurya maintains his innocence even as he fights to find form. Will he prove his worth as a player and establish his credibility?
The good thing about this book is that it is written from the vantage points of different characters. That allows the reader to discover the different perspectives and how a particular individual reacts in an uncertain atmosphere. Shaurya dominates the book throughout and his character certainly underlines the tough life of a cricketer. The cricket fans are often oblivious to the difficulties faced by a cricketer with all the stardom, hype and attention. Through that, a cricketer can often cut a lonely figure in the midst of a large crowd. The fans and the media too can be unforgiving and suspicious at every hint of a problem.
The writer has done an excellent job in his description of the on-field action. Watching a game is one thing, but reading about it and feeling a part of the crowd requires great skill from the writer. Capital Cavalier’s encounters are well illustrated with the readers gripped almost as if they are watching the game on television.
Off the field, the law enforcement personnel and the bookies are engaged in a cat and mouse chase. But then, it also shows how difficult life can be for a cricketer, as he may find himself in a controversy for no apparent reason. In today’s world, he has to be more than careful about the people he even poses with for a minute or two. The book also paints a picture of the opulence of T20 leagues. The after-match parties and the like are well described and quite believable.
While the connections between the different plots are evident, one cannot guess the big fish and the small fry right until the climax. The suspense has been well-crafted and the revelations do stun you. The ending though is a bit too dramatic for the liking and almost looks like a movie script. Yet, it doesn’t take the sheen off a book that is new and one of the first of its kind. It should make an entertaining read not only for a cricket fan, but for any avid reader.
In the end, it does leave you with a few thought provoking questions. Get me?