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All women, all disfigured in a similar manner. The only seeming connection between them besides the M.O are faded blue sequins found near their shallow graves.
Trigger Warning: This being the review of a crime thriller, there are mentions of violence, and may be triggering for survivors.
‘Endings are overrated.’
So begins the second novel by Damyanti Biswas, The Blue Bar. Set in Mumbai, the story revolves around Inspector Arnav Singh Rajput as he tries to unearth the culprit behind a string of corpses dug up over the years in remote areas across the city. All women, all disfigured in a similar manner. The only seeming connection between them besides the M.O are faded blue sequins found near their shallow graves.
What could have been decades old cold case, takes on a new skin when the latest victim is found before she could be buried. Amidst all this, troubled by a scarred childhood, Inspector Rajput worries the next recovered body could be someone he once loved— Tara, who had disappeared without a word fourteen years ago.
The Blue Bar is a mystery thriller involving a serial killer, grisly murders, and investigations which reveal more than our protagonist bargained for. Despite all that, what lays at its core is love— romantic, friendly, parental, and even the twisted, unforgivable kind.
Arnav’s search for the murderer is not without roadblocks, manifested through high profile figures such as businessmen, Bollywood personalities, corrupt bosses, and government officials. Trust and loyalty are tested at each step as the list of suspects keeps growing.
One of the best things about The Blue Bar, aside from its intricate and well-crafted plot, is the way the author weaves evocative images and transports the reader. ‘It all began with that midnight-colored saree, thick with dark-blue sequins, its endless sea of shimmering dots stitched by hands that must have cracked and bled over the months of needle in and out of taut cloth in some dingy, godforsaken hole in one of Mumbai’s stinking alleyways.’
Even throwaway musings of a character lend such great impact in helping us understand how they function. ‘Women did what they had to.’ The running analogies are a delight to read as well. ‘Somewhere in the city a real-life Ravan prowled, kidnapping women, torturing and killing them.’
On the darker side of things, the author holds back from being overly graphic in sensitive topics, lending enough to let the reader understand why and how things thus came to be. Trauma, loss and grief are abundant in almost every main character, protagonist or otherwise, and the way they deal with them is different for each. For Arnav, it is throwing himself into work and striving to make sure cases of injustices against women do not go unsolved. For another, it is the healing found in watching their child grow up. For yet another character at the forefront, they find themselves trapped and suffocated, no proper way to vent it out.
Based around Dussehra and Diwali celebrations, this ticking-clock story is paced in a way that keeps a reader hooked till the end, and keeps them guessing on who the culprit could be. I did have trouble pinpointing what year ‘Present Day’ referred to, but I count it as a small hiccup.
Let The Blue Bar lead you to and from haunted mangrove swamps to crowded city streets to Ravan Dahan to dance bars, and if you are like me, you might even take a moment to smile at the passing cameo of beautiful yellow orioles.
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Image source: shutterstock, and book cover Amazon
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Clumsy. Awkward. Straight-forward. A writer, in progress. A pencil sketch artist by hobby.
IG: @leesplash read more...
Women's Web is an open platform that publishes a diversity of views, individual posts do not necessarily represent the platform's views and opinions at all times.
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