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Sunday, July 14, 2013
The book was received as part of Reviewers Programme on The Tales Pensieve.

Compass Box Killer
Paperback: 240 pages 
Publisher: Rupa & Co
Publication date: July 1, 2013 
Language: English
Genre: Crime-thriller, Murder-mystery
Author Biography(via Amazon)

Piyush Jha is an acclaimed film director, ad filmmaker and the author of the bestselling novel, Mumbaistan. A student political leader at university, he pursued a career in advertising management after acquiring an MBA degree. Later, he switched tracks, first to make commercials for some of the country’s largest brands and then to write and direct feature films. His films include Chalo America, King of Bollywood and Sikandar.
He lives in his beloved Mumbai, where he can often be found walking the streets that inspire his stories.

Book Description

‘Akurle is just the first to die. To find out who is next, find me first.’

One muggy afternoon in Mumbai, a senior police officer is found murdered at his desk. When Inspector Virkar from the Crime Branch arrives at the scene, he finds a cryptic note that spills out of a student’s compass box. Then begins a series of killings and in each, a tell-tale compass box reveals more clues.
Accompanied by the attractive, ambitious TV reporter, Raashi Hunerwal, Virkar has to race against time to catch the Compass Box Killer before the bodies pile up. As the investigation shuttles from Mumbai to Khandala to Belgaum, Virkar is taken deep into a labyrinth of backroom deals that lead to shocking revelations about the ruthless killer’s motives.
Slick plot twists and high-adrenaline action mark the first of the Inspector Virkar Crime Thrillers—part of the Mumbaistan series. Tough, daring and relentless in his pursuit of justice, Inspector Virkar is a policeman one wishes every city had.

My review

This novel had everything I expected. First, the cover image was very inviting and another reason why I wanted to read this novel was the title which I found very different. I liked the sound of it. When I initially started  out reading novels, my favorite genres were Crime novels especially the medical thrillers. My addiction to these novels was such that I didn't like to shift to any other genre. My favorite authors in these genres-Robin Cook, Iris Johansen and Michael Connelly . As for this novel, my expectations grew even higher because of it's Indian origin. The main reason is I don't think there are really many crime novels published in India.

Compass Box Killer by Piyush Jha is a fantastic crime thriller with a lot of twists and turns which no one will ever forget because of it's uniqueness and an outstanding narrative by the author.It stars Police Inspector Virkar who must stop a  series of killings by a fiendishly clever killer before it is too late. The first victim is a senior police officer named,  Akurle,  who died after eating Vada Pav mixed with ricin,  a lethal poison extracted from Castor Beans. Each killing pattern is different, the only thing that doesn't change is,  he leaves a note of the next victim inside a compass box written in blood. Now Inspector Virkar must find the killer before he shatters another life.

Each time Inspector Virkar attempts to save the victims, he is taken by surprise because of the Super intelligent,  brilliant mind of the killer. The motive behind the killings was the one thing I least expected. All the victims seemed really nice with a clean background, but as the proverb saying goes "Do not judge a person by their appearance". I was also very excited and at the same time  thrilled  to know the fact , after he has killed three people, the killer doesn't know who his next victim is and silently seeks the help of Inspector Virkar to kill him. You can't help yourself from laughing out loud at this particular scene.

Thoughts on the novel

The pace of the novel in the beginning was a bit slow but will keep you engaging. There is a lot of repeating,  like for example, the details of food and drinking habits of Inspector Virkar were repeated again and again which I hated. What I  did like in the novel was the sudden turn out  of events by those people whom he trusted more, and later when he was thinking everything is going to end, he is betrayed by the one whom he had the most faith in.

This novel  gives a great insight of the media people and their quest for fame. There are some Marathi words which I initially mistook for hindi words because of my average knowledge of the language. If you don't know either of these language, you may well likely to laugh while reading those sentences.

On the whole, this is the kind of novel you won't be able to put  down. Even if you try to put it down, you can't help yourself from getting back into reading the novel again. This is a very compelling , quick entertaining read. It doesn't bore you and has the great potential of becoming  a blockbuster movie.

Rating 4/5

Excerpts from the novel

As he stood inside panting in relief, he heard the muted grunts of the two Dobermans as their bodies slammed against the old wood of the door. Before he could fully catch his breath, the light bulb above him was switched on with an unceremonious click.

Behind him, a voice said, 'You were lucky. They're trained to tear a man's arm off his body.'

Suddenly, the dogs began to bark loudly. Virkar turned around to see Reverend Anthony standing at the head of the staircase behind him, dressed in pajamas and a maroon, silk housecoat. Virkar wondered whether Reverend  Anthony had any other tricks up his sleeve apart from flesh-tearing attack dogs.

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