Lilah, Harry and their comrades and enemies return in the fifth installment of Jay Perin’s projected seven-book One Hundred Years of War series based on the Mahabharata.
The first four novels followed the Barrons, Kingsley and Sheppard families as they collaborated to dominate the world’s oil market. To that end, the three dynasties married Lilah Sheppard Barrons off to Brad, the eldest of five Kingsley brothers, although she was in love with Harry Sheppard. But Lilah’s independence led the Kingsley patriarch and his powerful stepbrother, Temple, to try to take her down. Their scheming forced Lilah and the Kingsley brothers to flee America.
This story opens in 1989, with the fugitives still hiding in Beijing. As Lilah escapes a perilous situation, she witnesses the famous “Tank Man” facing down the army in Tienanmen Square and, in a poignant scene, resolves to keep fighting.
On the run again, the group moves to Goa, living and working incognito in a resort. Never relinquishing their goal to return home and clear their names, they confront an old enemy while making a friend of the resort owner’s young daughter. Meanwhile, Harry finds himself falsely imprisoned for murder and cultivating an unlikely alliance. And a remorseful Temple tries to make things right, despite being unable to speak after an attempt on his life.
The series has always featured evocative settings, but Perin puts the varied locales to especially good use here. The Goa interlude, particularly, balances character development with an intriguing sense of place as Perin artfully depicts the exuberant, and often dangerous, atmosphere that results from the mix of hippies, gangsters and ordinary people who flock to the city.
As always, Perin’s strong but flawed characters should continue to inspire reader loyalty, and Temple’s rehabilitation is welcome and moving. Although a few scenes still feel overly talky, this problem is much improved from previous installments.
Fans of the series will likely find The Indian Defense the most rewarding installment yet.