Title: You Beneath Your Skin
Author: Damayanti Biswas
Price: 250 INR
Link to Purchase: You Beneath Your Skin
It’s a dark, smog-choked new Delhi winter. Indian American single mother Anjali Morgan juggles her job as a psychiatrist with caring for her autistic teenage son. She is in a long-standing affair with ambitious police commissioner Jatin Bhatt – An irresistible attraction that could destroy both their lives. Jatin’s home life is falling apart: his handsome and charming son is not all he appears to be, and his wife has too much on her plate to pay attention to either husband or son. But Jatin refuses to listen to anyone, not even the sister to whom he is deeply attached. Across the city, there is a crime spree: slum women found stuffed in trash bags, faces and bodies disfigured by acid. And as events spiral out of control Anjali is horrifyingly at the centre of it all … in a sordid world of poverty, misogyny, and political corruption, Jatin must make some hard choices. But what he unearths is only the tip of the iceberg. Together with Anjali he must confront old wounds and uncover long-held secrets before it is too late.
Alert: Potential Spoilers Ahead
As I read the book, I could see that the author has done a lot of research work before writing the book. She seems to have firsthand knowledge of police methods of solving a crime and the internal politics that plagues the Indian police departments. I could also make out that she has done a lot of research about how prostitution and the drug dens of India work. The characters of the parties involved are grey, and not black and white as in the case of many thrillers. The relationships between the characters are fleshed out well. Anjali’s relationship with her mother which is brought out to us in the form of flashbacks gives us a vivid idea about her mentally abusive childhood. The sacrifices she is willing to make for her son are touching. The book centres in a major way about how she is constantly thinking about helping her son avoid catastrophe. This brings out a mother’s love for her child vividly. Initially, when I started reading the book, I was going slow, but by the time I reached the 40th or 50th page, the book became quite unputdownable.
I read the first 40 to 50 pages on the first day I started the book and the suspense kept me awake for a long time that night. The next day I picked up the book, and I did not put down the book right till the time, I finished it. Damayanti avoids sensationalism throughout this book. If you are looking for a died in the wool thriller, this is not the book for you. On the other hand, if you want to read a book which reflects the true methods used by the police for solving a crime you will like this book. There are some very tender moments shown in the interactions between Anjali and Jatin. Another thing I loved about the book is the way Damayanti has peppered the book everywhere with Ghalib’s verses along with their English translations. These verses are real gems that add flavour to the book. The way Jatin remains steadfast in his love for Anjali is another thing that touched me to the core. And the way he involuntarily reveals his love for Anjali to his sister in a moment of agony is another thing that touched me.
And it would be remiss of me if I do not mention a bit about the ending. The ending left me feeling sad and slightly miserable. It is not what can be called an exactly unhappy ending but then it is not a fairy tale ending either. I well and truly wished it were different. But on reflection, I realized that Damayanti has selected an ending that mirrors real life. Ninety per cent of criminal cases in India end up this way. It is almost impossible in our country to stand up to the powerful and mighty. All in all, this is a wonderful book. I wish the ending had been a happy one, that is all.
Conclusion: A very big Yay! I simply loved this book every bit of the way. Please do read it if you are looking for a book that deals with crime in India in a realistic way.
Rating: I go with a 4.5/5 for Damayanti Biswas’s ‘You Beneath Your Skin’. I have deducted 0.5 points for the book because it made me feel sad at the end. 🙂
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