Publisher: Penguin India
Price: Rs. 250
It is an eerie, dark night in a deserted studio on the outskirts of Mumbai where Bollywood’s leading director Nikhil Kapoor dies of a powerful electric shock. Across the city, in a opulent hotel where she comes for a celebrity product endorsement, his wife and reigning diva Mallika Kapoor succumbs to a drug overdose. Police initially rule both deaths accidental, but have soon reason to re-think their assessment.
This happens as they learn the director, just two nights before his death, had made a shocking revelation. At a party of his friends – a leading actor, a diva-in-waiting, a hotshot producer, a fashion designer, socialite, his secretary and a doctor couple from his past, he disclosed that he knows among them is a killer, who will strike again.
As more murders, disguised as accidents, and attempts to kill follow, Mumbai police’s finest – the crime branch’s Special Case Squad, headed by the tough and determined Additional Commissioner of Police Meeta Kashyap, arrive on the scene. The investigation is entrusted to Senior Inspector Hossein Sheriyar Khan, nicknamed ‘Hoshiyar’ Khan after cracking the case of the murder of a leading industrialist – and later of the prime suspect.
But can he and his team find the lethal secrets in the victims and prospective victims’ past to forestall the fiendish designs of a cold-blooded killer and uncover the insidious conspiracy behind the murders? Are those threatened being honest at all? And above all, will their top boss, the petty, vindictive, and grandstanding Mumbai Police Commissioner T.L. Ghankar, who has considerable animus for Kashyap and her team, allow them to work unhindered?
This sets the stage for an absorbing crime story, with quite a few red herrings and twists (and a little bit of complicated motives), but more importantly, quite a bit of insight into workings of Bollywood and lives of its stars – but then it was to be expected from the author, who is a third generation scion of an illustrious film industry family, with his grandfather Jayant and father Amjad Khan being versatile actors, whose performances across the spectrum are still remembered and lauded.