LIES. AMBITION. FAMILY.
It’s a dark, smog-choked New Delhi winter. Indian American single mother Anjali Morgan juggles her job as a psychiatrist with caring for her autistic teenage son. She is in a long-standing affair with ambitious police commissioner Jatin Bhatt- an irresistible attraction that could destroy both their lives.
Jatin’s home life is falling apart: his handsome and charming son is not all he appears to be, and his wife has too much on her plate to pay attention to either husband or son. But Jatin refuses to listen to anyone, not even the sister to whom he us deeply attached.
Across the city there is a crime spree: slum women found stuffed in trash bags, faces and bodies disfigured by acid. And as events spiral out of control Anjali is horrifyingly at the centre of it all…
In a sordid world of poverty, misogyny, and political corruption, Jatin must make some hard choices. But what he unearths is only the tip of the iceberg. Together with Anjali he must confront old wounds and uncover long-held secrets before it is too late.
This is an absolutely gripping story, set in New Delhi, drawing you in from early on as the writer introduces you to the characters, each have many layers. This is an outstanding debut novel and I highly recommend it, not just a a crime/thriller/murder story. But for the underlying issues that are contained within the story.
Anjali Morgan is an Indo-American woman a Psychiatrist, she is also the single mother of Nikhil, was born with Autism. Anjali is trying her best to do what she believes is right for Nikhil. She has struggled growing up herself never being perfect in the eyes of her American mother, who hates her, and who she has had no contact with for some years. After her marriage had broken up, and her father had died, Anjali had moved to Delhi. She takes pride in her looks, as she saves some money for her Botox treatments, it seems very important to her how she must look perfect at all times. She has been having a complicated affair with the married Jatin Bhatt who is the Special Commisioner of Police, and also the brother of her best friend Maya.
Maya is a private detective running her own agency with the help of Pawal, who would love to join the police force, but his mother is against it. Maya has no idea that her best friend and brother are having an affair. She is close to her sister in law, and loves her nephew Varun, although she can see things in Varun that his mother and father do not see. Jatin thinks his son is such a good boy, but Varun is clever at manipulating both his mother and father, especially as neither seem to have time for him.
When some gruesome crimes start happening in the smog filled, cold city, involving drugs, rape, acid attacks, murder. Jatin initially keeps the investigation’s just between himself and a few officers he can trust, because this is a city with some corrupt officers, some of whom are higher up the chain than Jatin. His boss is his father in law! He hopes if he can solve this case it could lead to promotion.
There are a number of smaller characters introduced within the story, adding to the complexity, and depth of the story.
As events unravel things change for all of the characters in one way or another. As they all learn different lessons, and secrets are revealed. The rich have a way of hiding things and the poor suffer.
This is a compelling read, the trauma caused to someone attacked with acid, something that happens for real, more than we know, to women in parts of the world, by husbands or family members, the poverty, children left starving in the streets with no food, no home, no education, especially girls and young women, leaving them with little choice but to turn to prostitution, the lack of medical facilities, or the waiting to be seen in a free clinic. These issues are cleverly intertwined within the story as well as the way Anjali deals with Nikhil’s autism which is handled so well. A story of courage, acceptance of yourself as you are.
I liked the addition of some Hindu language and parts of poems, although I didn’t understand the bits that weren’t translated but picked up some bits. Which may even come in handy when I speak with my Hindu daughter in law.
I would like to thank the author for sending me an ecopy of this book in exchange for an honest, fair and unbiased review. All thoughts are my own.
For me this is definitely a 5⭐️ read, for a debut novel it is brilliantly written.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Damyanti Biswas lives in Singapore, and works with Delhi’s underprivileged children as Project Why, a charity that promotes education and social enhancement in underprivileged communities. Her short stories have been published in magazines in the US, UK, and Asia, and she helps edit the Forge Literary Magazine.