When college students across Mumbai are murdered one after another in gruesome ways, inspector Virkar from the crime branch is called in. As Virkar investigates, he stumbles upon a ruthless gang of young, tech-savvy miscreants who use social networking sites and the Internet for blackmail and sextortion. But how are the two cases linked? And who is the mastermind behind these killings?
As the case grows murkier, the computer-challenged Virkar finds himself greatly out of his depth, chasing a killer who always seems to be one step ahead and a group that soon trains its sights on him. He must race against time to unmask the gang and to find the murderer before his reputation is ruined forever. Thick with suspense and layered with grit, anti-social network brings to you inspector Virkar’s toughest case yet.
It had been a little more than a month since I had read a book, and for anybody who has been following me on goodreads or on this blog for a while now will know that this has been the longest time in 2014 that I have gone without reading a book and posting its review. I had been itching to get back to reading for a while now and therefore when The Tales Penseive sent me a mail asking me whether I would be interested in reading and putting up a review of Anti-Social Network by Piyush Jha, I immediately leapt up at the opportunity and grabbed it with both hands. Although they took their own sweet time in sending me the book itself, in hindsight, I can clearly say that the book was truly worth the wait.
I have had the pleasure of being part of the audience in one of the sessions that the author Piyush Jha participated in the Times Bangalore Lit Fest sometime in 2013 which was about writing books in the crime thriller genre and I have to say that I quite liked his personality and the way he presented himself and his thoughts on stage. And that was the first time that I heard about his Mumbaistan trilogy and had added the first two books (the third one was yet to be published then) to my to read list. However, as fate would have it, I ended up reading the third book first, but thankfully there are no ‘continuity’ issues with the trilogy and each book is a standalone one with just the main protagonist, Mumbai Crime Branch Inspector Virkar being the common thread between them.
The author has a writing style which is extremely contemporary but also strikes you as the style of somebody who has got a really good command over his narrative. Although he juggles the action between various characters and various places, the reader never gets lost in all the action that is happening, and trust me, there is quite a bit of action happening simultaneously all through the book. He keeps the pace quite taut and never lets unnecessary slackness creep its way into the narrative.
The crime itself in this book is quite hi-tech and extremely in tune with the times we live in. Although it deals with a series of murders, the motive behind them is quite different and that sets this book apart from other books in this genre. The fact that this background puts Inspector Virkar completely out of his elements and he has to take the help of a young junkie who doubles up as a junkie forms one of the endearing traits of this main protagonist. In fact, the chemistry between Virkar, student psychology counselor Naina Rai and Richard, the hacker forms quite an interesting thread througout the investigation.
What however took the cake for me was the unexpected twist at the very end of the book. How the author manages to introduce it, and then justify its inclusion in the narrative and unravels how it influenced the narrative was quite nice.
All in all, a nice quick read for all you lovers of the crime fiction genre. For sure, I am going to pick up the other two books in this trilogy and read them sometime soon and put up their reviews here.
This book has been reviewed as part of The Tales Pensieve Book Review program.