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Amrit is a washed-up Calcutta journalist who doesn't even have the energy to be cynical. He stumbles across a photograph and becomes intrigued by the story behind it - which he believes might give him his big break, a story he could sell to foreign newsmagazines. This leads to a trek up to "the region", which remains unnamed throughout the book, but is an insurgent-ridden area of Northeast India close to the Burmese border. As he gets closer to the story, the details become increasingly blurred and murky, and his task begins to seem futile. The most striking thing about the book is the atmosphere - of corruption and compromise, failure and futility. The spirit of the story lives in the flickering light of a cheap, decaying hotel. The local administrative officer, far from his Keralan home, spends his evenings alone in his vast, dusty residence and travels to his chaotic office through streets which are deserted but for the soldiers who are there to put down the insurgency. This contrasts with the bright-futured image of India that some of the book's characters live in, or at least aspire to. This is a small part of the book - but since the main theme is the power of the image over the reality, you have to wonder whether Deb is making a wider point about the country. The thriller side of the story doesn't work so well - it's not entirely plausible, and it loses energy towards the end. But I would still highly recommend the book - and, since it was Deb's debut effort, I'll definitely try and get hold of his others.