Rating: 5 out of 5.

I could not put this book down. I loved the first book in this series, and I loved this one even more. Biswas has absolutely outdone herself.

About the Book

A ritual murder at a Mumbai temple exposes the city’s dark secrets and ravages the personal life of a detective in this sequel to The Blue Bar.

Amid incessant rains pounding down on Mumbai, Senior Inspector Arnav Singh Rajput is called to a shocking crime scene. A male body is found dismembered on the steps of a Kaali temple. Drawn into his flesh are symbols of a tantra cult. The desecration of a body at a Hindu place of worship puts the city on edge and divides Arnav’s priorities: stopping a fanatic from killing again and caring for his wife who’s struggling through a challenging pregnancy.

Then video footage of the murder is uploaded onto the account of a Bollywood social media influencer, triggering twists in the investigation Arnav didn’t see coming. Caste systems at war. A priest under suspicion. And an anonymous threat that puts his wife’s welfare at risk. When more bodies are found, the savagery of the city begins to surface—and Arnav fears that no one is safe from a bigger storm brewing.

My Thoughts

This is the second time we’ve gone into the Mumbai police scene with Arnav and his crew. Last time, he almost lost the ones he loved, and his gritty, rule-following policing. This time around, he and the ones he loves are threatened again, including his soon-to-be-born child with his new wife. This is all set against the atmospheric backdrop of monsoon season flooding and grisly murders, making it an absolutely page-turning thrilling read.

Sometimes, when you read a sequel it is disappointing. But on a rare occasion, I enjoy the sequel more than the first and this is one of those. Following familiar characters is like checking in with old friends. Though I guess it would be more like a parasocial relationship, maybe we just won’t go there.

I always enjoy learning new things about different cultures in my reading, even when it’s reading for fun. I still haven’t read many books about Indian culture, but I have read some about the caste system. Being from the Southern United States, I am very familiar with one of the other big examples of people thinking they’re better than other people because of some arbitrary reason – chattel slavery. Learning more about that through school and personal education, references to India’s caste system are actually quite common. An unfortunate thing to have in common. But it was very interesting to see how it plays out in modern society and to get a more in-depth practical view of the caste system, rather than an academic textbook version.

I really loved the storyline for Arnav’s right-hand lady cop friend Sita in this book. She is a strong female character, and I felt like she grew a great deal in this story. I really hope to see more stories in this world and more of her especially.

I look forward to reading more by the author, including her first book which is on my far too long TBR list. She told me the other day that one has even been picked up as a television series (she said it on social media so I don’t think it’s a secret). I would absolutely love to see more of Arnav’s world.

Question of the Day

Halloween is coming up, so have you ever worn a wig for a costume or anything?

Who’s It For?

If you love thrilling, gritty police books that keep you turning the pages well into the night, this is absolutely the book for you.

Content Warnings: There are several topics covered in the book that some readers may find disturbing, including, but not limited to Pregnancy, Childbirth, Graphic Violence, Sexual Assault, Adult Situations, Adult Language, Police Corruption, Transphobia, Homophobia, Child Abuse, Domestic Abuse, Infidelity, Mistreatment of Differently Abled People, and more.

About the Author

Damyanti Biswas’s short fiction has been published at Smokelong, Ambit, Litro, Puerto del Sol, among others, and she’s the co-editor of The Forge literary magazine. She’s the author of YOU BENEATH YOUR SKIN, an Amazon-bestselling crime novel, which has been optioned for screens by Endemol Shine. Her next crime novel, The BLUE BAR was published by Thomas & Mercer, received a starred review on Publishers Weekly, and was one of 2023’s Most Anticipated Mysteries & Thrillers on Goodreads. Its sequel, THE BLUE MONSOON was released by Thomas & Mercer in October 2023.

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