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by Avtar Singh
Akashic Books, June 2016
288 pages
ISBN: 1617753807

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

NECROPOLIS: A New Delhi Crime Novel by Avtar Singh is an intriguing mix of history, myth and the realities of contemporary New Delhi. The lead characters include Deputy Commissioner of Police Sajan Dayal and his clever but brutish sidekick Kapoor. The DCP and Kapoor soon include Smita Dhingra, a young woman who works in cyber-crime, in their trio.

The body of a young man with myriad tattoos and piercings is found with a necklace of human fingers around his neck. And there is a gang war going on in town between werewolves and vampires. Add to this the appearance of Razia, who seems to have lived for centuries and soon becomes the love interest of the DCP.

As the trio of detectives attempts to solve this crime and a number of subsequent ones, they are hindered by the corruption of the city and state governments, while the gangs, ghosts and finger collectors muddy the waters.

The DCP is a historian of Delhi, both old and New. He and his crew negotiate around the famous Mughal tombs, the seedy suburbs and what Dayal calls a giant Necropolis. Entire developments raised on what used to be graveyards. This is a pretty grim city, dark as any noir setting.

Necropolis is written for an Indian audience. Street language and cultural nuances remain unexplained. At times the North American reader will feel confused, even lost. The dialogue is often witty, the ironies amusing but hard to really understand. But if the reader does his/her research (thank heaven for Wikipedia), most of the story will come clear.

There is a reward for all the work. The ending brings the history, myth and politics together for an astonishing and satisfying ending. And for those who know New Delhi, even a bit, this will be great fun to read.

Susan Hoover is a playwright, independent producer and retired college English teacher. She lives in Nova Scotia.

Reviewed by Susan Hoover, May 2016

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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