South China Sea is an area of many disputes. 10 different countries lay claim over different sections of the water body, with China’s claim and dominance over the region dwarfing all others. China has also been building artificial islands and setting up military bases over disputed territories so as to exercise exclusive control over one of the busiest shipping routes in the world.
I took the above information from a Wikipedia page and that is exactly what Commodore PR Franklin seems to have done in his novel Mayhem in South China Sea. The novel drums up a scenario where, with the backing of United States, India sets about upsetting Chinese policy of dominance over the South China Sea. The novel claims to use Frankin’s knowledge of warfare and tactics but makes it read like an intelligence report.
The characters are superficial (with the protagonist even celebrating to have ‘trained’ his wife to his ways), the international politics as drab as a UN convention and the plot an imitation of the James Bond movies but doesn’t provide the necessary thrill.
A 200-page ode to PM Modi
The novel is based in a contemporary setting with the backdrop of Paris Climate Summit and the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and any guesses who was India’s prime minister during all this? *drumrolls* Narendra Modi!
Franklin, though, never names the prime minister, rather, just calls him by his designation. He doesn’t fail to mention how hard-working, tireless, overworked and selfless the prime minister is, characterising him as a flawless, perfect human being.
The Prime Minister of India was an exceptionally busy man and worked with a whirlwind fury and endless stamina, like a man possessed…The nation was fortunate to have him leading the country at this stage when the world was just recovering from a terrible recession. He was honest and sincere, and had great ambitions for the Indian nation and its people.
Why you should pick this up
If you’re bored of reading the regular Wikipedia page on China’s control over the South China Sea or tired of listening to your daily international news, you can pick this book up just to see if your reading is up to speed. Otherwise, the novel serves no purpose.