Publisher : Penguin Books
Author : Ankush Saikia
A body has been recovered from a tandoor oven, A young accountant is missing with a suitcase full of cash and a city in the heady grip of T20 fever with the annual championship playing on. This provides a eye catching background for private detective Arjun Arora who works the streets of Delhi dealing with the shady underbelly of the capital city. Hired to track down a missing person, Arjun stumbles upon a gruesome murder where the suspects seem to be linked to something larger and more sinister.
Dead Meat : There's a butcher on the loose is a part noir and part detective story. Saikia takes time to set in the story in with numerous characters and it does ramble on a snail pace while introducing each of them. The sweat and smell of Delhi is interspersed, first at a superficial level and then almost forced into the narrative, just like how Delhi is with its residents. The author does not shy away in dealing with real people across various strata of society - there is an almost underlining of creating a class distinction between the haves and havenots of the society during the investigation.
There are portions of ultimate patience which you need to display as a reader because nothing really happens. The back story of Arjun's divorce and current fling provides nothing but cheap redemption to his personality. Arjun has a drinking problem and frankly, too much word space is given to this constant habit even while he is solving riddles to get to the killer. The plot points by the end are hazy and not all add up to the narrative. At over 400 pages, the narrative is way too long and leaves you exhausted as a reader feeling helpless just like Arjun being constantly stuck in traffic.
I am going with 3/5 for Dead Meat by Ankush Saikia. Much shorter in length and a bit fast paced, this could have been a great thriller set in Delhi. An opportunity not fully utilized.