Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Book Review: The Mysterious Mr Jacob by John Zubrzycki

On the jacket:

The scandal that rocked the Raj when in 1891, a notorious curio-dealer from Simla offered to sell the world’s largest brilliant-cut diamond to the Nizam of Hyderabad. If the audacious deal came through, the merchant would have been set up for life. But the transaction went horribly wrong. The Nizam accused him of fraud, triggering a sensational trial in the Calcutta High Court that made headlines around the world. The dealer was Alexander Malcolm Jacob, a man of mysterious origins and colourful infamy. He was India’s most successful purveyor of precious stones and was rumoured to be ‘rich almost beyond the dreams of Aladdin’. Hailed as a celebrity in his own lifetime, he was the inspiration for the shadowy Lurgan Sahib in Rudyard Kipling’s Kim. A confidant of viceroys and maharajahs, he dabbled in magic and was a player in the Great Game. Yet he died in obscurity, carrying many of his secrets to his grave. In this meticulously researched account of Jacob’s life, John Zubrzycki reconstructs events through long-lost letters, court records and annotations on secret files, bringing us a riveting study of a man whose obituary in a leading daily fittingly described him as the most ‘romantic and arresting figure in our time’.


While I had heard a lot about John Zubrzycki's The Last Nizam, this was my first read by him. The synopsis, as you can read above, was pretty interesting. 

The story revolves around Alexander Jacob; and it's amazing how Zubrzycki has woven a gripping take around something he couldn't have researched much about. Going deep into history, the story is a well spun plot. The protagonist is slightly mysterious and the story also ends with a hint of mystery. 

My fingers are itching to type some spoilers, but I'l refrain. If you like reading about incidents to do with the past, or even if you just love good story telling, read The Mysterious Mr Jacob.

Rating: 5/5

[This review was for Random House IndiaThe opinions are strictly my own and not been written under any obligation.]

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