Chain of Cus­tody

Gritty and graphic, this mys­tery probes sex­traf­fick­ing rings, with em­pa­thy to their vic­tims.

Foreword Reviews - - Reviews Adult Fiction - SONYA LOVY

Anita Nair Bit­ter Le­mon Press Soft­cover $14.95 (365pp) 978-1-908524-74-4

Anita Nair’s Chain of Cus­tody is a grip­ping mys­tery set against the back­drop of In­dia’s hus­tle-and-bus­tle cities and land­scapes.

When a thir­teen-year-old girl goes miss­ing in a busy market, it’s a race against the clock to re­cover her from a deadly crim­i­nal ring. And what does her dis­ap­pear­ance have to do with the mur­der of a nearby lawyer? Borei Gowda and his part­ner San­tosh must solve the dis­ap­pear­ance, and they hope to find her alive, be­fore she is sold or worse.

The novel im­me­di­ately in­tro­duces its lead char­ac­ter with all his vices, pre­sent­ing them in a way that makes him re­fresh­ingly hu­man. In­spec­tor Gowda is a com­pli­cated in­di­vid­ual. He is mar­ried, but he still feels an at­tach­ment to his mistress, his col­lege girl­friend, Ur­mila. He is morally com­plex, an adul­terer and a pes­simist. De­spite his con­tro­ver­sial pri­vate life, his heart is shown to be in the right place.

His in­ves­ti­ga­tion thrusts him into the dark and dis­turb­ing world of child sex traf­fick­ing, an un­der­ground but ex­tremely com­mon prob­lem that is of­ten pushed into the shad­ows. The book is less a mys­tery than an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into a mas­sive un­der­ground world, a sub­ject that rarely sees the light of day.

The novel is gritty. It does not shy away from dark themes and vi­o­lence, and is very much rooted in harsh re­al­i­ties. It oc­ca­sion­ally switches per­spec­tives to give voice to a young girl im­pris­oned in a brothel and forced to ser­vice its cus­tomers. Each char­ac­ter has his own strug­gles and de­mons, from young chil­dren liv­ing in poverty to the main char­ac­ter him­self. The in­ves­ti­ga­tion takes many sur­pris­ing turns, lead­ing to an omi­nous con­clu­sion.

Chain of Cus­tody is a graphic, sat­is­fy­ing read that delves into a con­tro­ver­sial sub­ject in a sym­pa­thetic and hu­mane way.

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