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A doctor's paradigm of subtlety, watch out for the Kathmandu quickies and Kashmir is now a pageturner...

Why would anyone want to read the memoirs of an nri radiologist raised in Pedamuttevi village in Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh? Not for the uneventful life that led him to medical college and onwards to the US, and certainly not for the internal politics in the setting up of Hyderabad's premier Nizam's Institute of Medical Sciences, nor for the quaint mix of philosophy, spirituality and medical exposition for the layman. But Dr Kakarla Subbarao's A Doctor's Story of Life and Death has ensured him a place in the sparse annals of India's tell-all literature by his observations on NTR's second wife, "who wove her own web around him" and his "painful last days". It's only a paragraph in his rambling lifestory, but what a para! He suggests everything without actually saying it: the virility-enhancing steroids that NTR was reportedly taking, his virtual "imprisonment" by Lakshmi Parvathi and "the big hole" in his "consciousness" because of Lakshmi Parvathi's negligence.

Parvathi, of course, is outraged and has vowed to write another biography in revenge. But Dr Subbarao's ghost writer, Arun Tiwari, who has also written a biography of Dr A.P.J. Kalam, titled Wings of Fire, describes the doctor as "blunt, fearless and brutally factual".

Few Indians dare to bare all, but India has more than its share of quickies. Remember the Kandahar hijack which spawned no less than four books in quick succession. The author of one of the hijack quickies is at it again with the latest sensation: the royal murders in Kathmandu. Neelesh Misra's End of the Line: The Story of the Killing of the Royals in Nepal will be out in a record two months and offers, according to his publisher, Penguin, "for the first time the true story behind the massacre".

Move over, Cold War. For thriller writers all over the world, it's Kashmir that is the happening place in the new millennium. And as if to prove them right, veteran journalist Eric Margolis is out with a new book, War at the Top of the World, that contends that this neglected part of the world with 25 per cent of the world's population could be the next flashpoint for a nuclear war. More chilling than fiction.

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