Rating: 5 out of 5.

This thrilling read will keep you on the edge of your seat from the first page.

About the Book

On the dark streets of Mumbai, the paths of a missing dancer, a serial killer, and an inspector with a haunted past converge in an evocative thriller about lost love and murderous obsession.

After years of dancing in Mumbai’s bars, Tara Mondal was desperate for a new start. So when a client offered her a life-changing payout to indulge a harmless, if odd, fantasy, she accepted. The setup was simple: wear a blue-sequined saree, enter a crowded railway station, and escape from view in less than three minutes. It was the last time anyone saw Tara.

Thirteen years later, Tara’s lover, Inspector Arnav Singh Rajput, is still grappling with her disappearance as he faces a horrifying new crisis: on the city’s outskirts, women’s dismembered bodies are being unearthed from shallow graves. Very little links the murders, except a scattering of blue sequins and a decade’s worth of missing persons reports that correspond with major festivals.

Past and present blur as Arnav realizes he’s on the trail of a serial killer and that someone wants his investigation buried at any cost. Could the key to finding Tara and solving these murders be hidden in one of his cold cases? Or will the next body they recover be hers?

My Thoughts

I enjoyed this book so much with numerous twists and turns that kept me guessing. I haven’t read many – if any – books set in India, and I enjoyed this peek into a culture with which I am much less familiar. It was especially thrilling to experience the culture through the lens of a genre I always enjoy reading. Having read crime fiction from multiple countries now, it always makes it clear just how similar humans are across the world – both in good and bad ways. The peek behind the curtain into the mind of the suspect gave me intense Criminal Minds vibes, which is something that fans of that show and genre (like myself) will enjoy. And the gritty, police scene full of sexism and corruption will remind Western audiences of our all-too-familiar similarly broken system.

I thoroughly enjoyed the main characters of the novel, and the growth seen by all of them. Biswis’s characters were enjoyable, but also incredibly human. Even the villain had shades of grey that left me feeling strange at the end. The stark, Romeo and Juliet-type romance of the cop and the bar girl was a lovely, but often very frustrating experience. The author was exceptional at showing how complicated the human experience is and this is a beautiful exploration of how messy life can get.

This novel features multiple, alternating points-of-view and it was done exceptionally well. I always enjoy this story structure, and when it is done well it is a wonderful way to tell a story. I was on the edge of my seat, experiencing the emotions right alongside the main characters and waiting to find out what would happen. I can’t wait to find out more about the characters and see them grow in the next book. I look forward so much to reading more by this author. There is a whole book club’s worth of discussion about the treatment of women in this book, which I think is part of the author’s point. She touches on a lot of real, serious issues, making this a complex, gorgeous piece of social commentary. I can’t wait to see what she has to say in the next one.

I had the unique experience of reading this book in multiple formats, and it was great in all of them. I bought the ebook and audiobook in a pre-order campaign, which netted me a discount – with the audible/Kindle reading sync connection. When that works, it’s fantastic, allowing you to switch seamlessly between audio and ebook. But I also won a signed physical ARC as well. The narrator of the audiobook did a fabulous job and only added to the experience. I’ll also admit, since I’m not as familiar with Indian names, I wouldn’t have known how to pronounce most of them had I not had the audiobook at hand.

If you can handle the various content warnings, I highly recommend this book. And if you’re a listener, it’s a fantastic experience on audio, just make sure there aren’t any sensitive or little ears around when you’re listening.

Who’s It For?

Those who love crime-fiction, shows like Criminal Minds, and a fast-paced thriller will love this book. It is a fast-paced, edge-of-your seat thriller from start to finish, and a wonderful crime novel. But it’s not sensitive readers.

Content Warning: Sexual assault, graphic violence, child abuse, adult language, adult situations, kidnapping, serious crime, and more

About the Author

Damyanti Biswas is an author, blogger, animal-lover, and spiritualist.

Her Indian debut literary crime novel You Beneath Your Skin was an Amazon bestseller, and optioned for the screens by Endemol Shine. Her next novel, The Blue Bar, was published in Jan 2023 via Thomas & Mercer. It was a number one new release on Amazon, and Publisher’s Weekly, in their Starred review called it ‘an unforgettable, searing portrait of marginalized people struggling for survival’.

Her work has been published in Smokelong Quarterly, Ambit, Pembroke Review, Griffith review among many others in the US, UK, and Australia. She also serves as one of the editors of the The Forge literary magazine.

Be sure to follow Damyanti on Bookbub for the latest on sales and giveaways. Say hello on Twitter or Instagram : where she loves chatting about books, cake, and existential angst.