Book Review: The Blue Bar

What else could a story with a sleazy bar, the bar girls gyrating to loud vulgar music, some rich influential society honchos, some underworld hit-men, few dirty cops and a lone honest policeman trying to make a sense of it all, be other than a super thriller?

If the book happens to be written by Damyanti Biswas, who debuted with bloodcurdling story ‘You Beneath Your Skin’ in the world of crime fiction novels, then be assured that the thriller would be a story with a chilling murder or two with sudden twists and turns in the story.

Damyanti is an Indian author with numerous short stories to her credit and has been shortlisted for Bath Novel Awards. She is the co-editor of Forge Literary Magazine. Says Damyanti about her second novel, The Blue Bar, “The story idea developed from a prompt in a workshop, that required me to write about a character who was being watched. The image of a woman in blue sequined sari became the first few lines of the story.”

When dismembered female corpses began to appear at different locations pointing to mysterious disappearances of bar girls, inspector Arnav concludes that he needs to hunt down a serial killer before his next victim turns up slaughtered. But when another bar girl Tara, Arnav’s love interest from a decade ago, goes missing, the desperation to solve the case becomes personal. His investigations take him through secrets of rich and powerful. Arnav’s perceptions of friendship and loyalty are challenged along the way when he uncovers corruption in the ranks of his colleagues. As he finds more about piling dead bodies, he realizes there are bigger forces at play. While Arnav faces the dilemma of confronting friends and bosses, he needs to accept his own truth about his love and fears.

From shady dance bars to lavish bungalows of the rich, the story weaves its way through myriad emotions, brutal indifference, hate, unrequited love, revenge, abuse and lies. The twists in the story not only surprise but also hit hard.

As you read this book, it is apparent that a lot of research has gone into writing a engrossing story that brings alive the locales by describing the smells, the sights and the behaviors of characters. The story is set in Mumbai, a city where people migrate in search of dreams and aspirations.The grasping narration does justice in describing certain traits of Mumbai. It pulls you into the story making it feel all real, as if all the scenes are unfolding in front of you as you watch in horror.

A nail biting super paced well-written narration that leaves the reader with no time to think anything beyond reading the next page and then.  A great read for mystery readers.

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