I dig crime novels. As the cliché goes, I am Sherlocked. Since the time I read about him in a Doyle book. Though I would like to believe that there is a balance between the powers of good and evil, the soldiers of good are fighting a hard battle. Inspector Gowda in his first outing camped in my brain as one of the good knights with his penchant to flirt with evil while disengaging it and winning the battle. Unlike the encounter with Cut Like Wound, we see a changed Gowda who does not boot-kick his out of tune 500 CC bullet to perform but coaxes and cajoles it to follow his commands. I was surprised to see this change in behavior. Good to see Santosh back in action and Ratna is a refreshing addition to the wolf pack.
Anita eases you slowly and gets you ready for a shocking exposure to the worst forms of human greed and callousness. The child abduction menace is a reality that we choose to avoid, forget and hope never comes in context of our friends and family. Gowda however cannot, as he is thrust into the dark reality when Nandita, his maid Shanti’s daughter, goes missing. While Gowda is restrained in handling his superiors and grapples around to trace Nandita, he pulls enough strings to understand the complex network of kidnapping, child abuse, sexual exploitation, murder and the taste of pure hell.
The death of Sanjay, a prominent lawyer, in one of the growing gated communities is another bone in Gowda’s plate of Pasta. While the Tekedar deftly weaves his web in strengthening mysterious powers that work for him, Gowda finds solace in Urmila who brings color to his monotonous life and keeps him sane. Gowda can be himself with her as Urmila treats him like his bottle of Old Monk would do – without inhibitions or judging. Gowda and his team has to race against time as Nandita has been missing and the chances of getting her back grow dim by the day. The most intriguing character is that of Krishna who gets under your skin and stays there. Krishna thrusts his burning cigarette in to your arm while giving you a baby smile. While Anita calms down the story to make it palatable, you can still feel the skin on your face burning from the reality that is hidden behind a protected mask. Nandita is somehow pushed into this deepest of holes from where Gowda and his team has to rescue her before she is fed to the hungry ruthless men.
The police job is a thankless one as the personnel risks everything while being understaffed, underpaid and taken for granted. Drained physically, emotionally and financially, they still show up for work and as Gowda says, If not us, who? While sorting out his work pressures, crying Shanti, haunting face of Nandita and the child trafficking racket, Gowda’s life is in a mess with Mamatha who has an ace up her sleeve that we don’t know and his substance-abusing son who chooses to stay engrossed in his headphones like any other teenager blocking all parental guidance.
Chain of Custody is a narration of events that lead us through a maze of investigation where we cannot make out anything ahead of us and rely on Gowda’s intuition and experience to lead us through to the other side safely. The simplest hint, the glint of an eye, a sly escaped smile, a subtle gesture is enough to set him off. The pace is just right for the reader to comprehend the reality while Gajendra, Ratna, Urmila, Santosh keep it lively and quick. In this fast paced tale of chasing dark shadows, unmasking smiling assassins, restoring faith in humanity, Gowda has to keep up the pace to match the wit of evil which lurks in the day light to snatch your child from your arms and next stop is worse than death. While it is a dark story we have people like Moina who hopes for a better day despite all the wrong things in her life and Gowda who doesn’t give a rat’s ass about what you feel or does he? Will Gowda manage to outwit the ploys of the tekedar, Krishna and save Nandita is the million dollar question.
The book would rank right up the attic under the classic crime novels while I am ready for the next outing of Gowda. Anita Nair arrives riding pillion on Gowda’s bullet in style to claim her mantle in crime fiction. In all this conundrum of things, she manages to make him appreciate pasta, go for a jog, cut down of cigarettes, drink less, be nice and live up to match Mr. Right. Let us get that bullet serviced. Cheers to Gowda.
Pick up the book today if you want a dose of Borei and lot of action.