Name of book: Cut Like Wound
Author: Anita Nair
Goodreads synopsis: It is the first night of Ramadan. At Shivaji Nagar in the heart of Bangalore, a young male prostitute is killed and burnt alive. It would have stayed as yet another unsolved murder, but for Inspector Borei Gowda, the investigating officer. As bodies begin to pile up one after the other, and it becomes clear that a serial killer is on the prowl, Gowda recognizes a pattern in the killings which no one else does. Even as he negotiates serious mid-life blues, problems with his wife and son, an affair with an ex-girlfriend, and official apathy and ridicule, the killer moves in for the next victim…
Steeped in the lanes and atmosphere of the city of Bangalore, Cut Like Wound introduces to the reader a host of unforgettable characters and is a brutal psychological thriller unlike any in Indian fiction.
Given that Cut Like Wound was the first Anita Nair novel I have ever read, I really didn’t quite have a yardstick to measure her writing with as I am somebody who believes in comparing a book of an author with his/her body of work only. Therefore, this book was approached with quite an open mind, having accounted for the fact that I picked up this book primarily because I fell in love with the main protagonist Inspector Borei Gowda when I managed to read a free extract of the first chapter of this book online. Another important reason that drew me to this book was the fact that it was set in Bangalore, and I personally haven’t read too many books that have been set here in the familiar milieu of my ‘hometown’.
What strikes us first about the book is the fact that the characters are so well etched out. Starting with the main protagonist, Borei Gowda, a middle aged inspector of police who is currently bang in the middle of a mid-life crisis with his family staying away from him due to domestic reasons, no real friends to speak of, ridiculed in the entire police department for being an idealistic, honest-to-goodness kind of a cop, and going on to the other characters such as SI Santosh, Corporator ‘Caddy’ Ravi, Lady Urmila, Bhuvana, the author has managed to create a wonderful ensemble cast for this novel. And each one of them stand out in our minds long after we have put down the book.
The plot itself deals with the murders of a few unconnected people in Bangalore which happen to fall within the jurisdiction of Inspector Gowda. He is able to trace out a pattern in the seemingly unrelated murders and with the help of greenhorn newbie SI Santosh sets out to investigate these murders. Despite facing resistance from his superiors in the investigation of the ‘serial killer’, both Gowda and Santosh persist in their efforts and this forms the bulk of the novel.
At the other end of the spectrum, we also get a peek into the daily life of Corporator Ravikumar and his coterie which interestingly enough includes a group of eunuchs as well. In fact his household is run by Akka, a ‘mother figure’ to all the eunuchs in his coterie. Assisted by his brother Chikka, Ravi not only manages his official role but also seems to be dabbling in various other things on the side, remnants from his colorful and eventful past life as ‘Caddy Ravi’, a small time rowdy element.
We also have the plot of Bhuvana, the transgender running in parallel. Interspersed very closely with both Inspector Gowda’s investigation and Ravi’s daily goings on, the fact that Bhuvana is somebody who relies a lot on Akka for her activities is something that keeps readers hooked to her next move.
What is brilliant about this novel is the fact that all three narratives keep good pace while etching out the characters, the settings and the overall landscape of the plot in a relatively detailed fashion. The author has not succumbed to the trap of making the detailing dull, bland and boring and manages to keep the readers engaged even in something as mundane as Gowda suffering from a hangover after a particularly bad drinking binge on a night.
Another thing that works beautifully well is when the author uses a carefully constructed sleight of hand technique right at the very end of the book which ensures that the book ends beautifully well. In fact for somebody who is writing her very first crime thriller, Anita Nair uses this technique wonderfully to bring the proceedings to a close in this book.
In a nutshell, as the synopsis reads, this well and truly marks the wonderful debut of Anita Nair in the crime thriller genre and given that she is already in the middle of the next Borei Gowda novel, this promises to be a good series of books. Do read this book if you are a fan of well written crime thrillers, and enjoy it when authors invest a lot of their effort into making their characters memorable.
|Name||Cut Like Wound|