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Ashwin Sanghi’s latest is a gripping thriller wrought with romance and lust

James Patterson and Ashwin Sanghi team up again to dish another installment in the Private Series. Private Delhi, as is evident from the title, is set in the busy, dynamic and routinely quagmire capital city of India.
When two lascivious lovebirds, looking for a hidden patch of an abandoned garden to get into the act, accidentally fall into a basement structure, they open a hazardous Pandora’s Box. Huge barrels lining the structure were dissolving human remains in a nauseating solution and the count was, at first, eleven. The girl shrieks hysterically and runs down the road, drawing the attention of the neighbors and in turn, police, powerful businessmen and stuffed politicos in office. But there is one thread that connects these people and the incident: a sly, anonymous killer in a balaclava, obsessed with vital organs.
Both the authors are known for spinning taut crime thrillers and this installment doesn’t disappoint much. Keeping the contemporary and pertinent theme of organ harvesting and medical tourism at center, the story is weaved in short, succinct chapters, giving the reader the necessary kick to read this in one go. I, for one, did. At over 450 pages, this isn’t exactly a trim novel and as expected, a hoard of characters fight for page space. Santosh, the chief of Private Delhi office, of course, stands out. As the protagonist, he is a haggard but not a loser. Possessing the mannerism of an experienced soldier who waits for his time and then attacks like it is the most obvious thing to do, Santosh is tentative but sharp, overcoming his past demons with a steely determination and a bunch of good friends, who double up as colleagues too. The authors have donned their shrewd hats and imparted back-stories to the team which is in tune with the current times. A single mother, a gay, an alcoholic and the likes. Sanghi brings a distinct flavor of Delhi, infusing his chapters with the aromas of Paranthewali Gali and Red Fort, the whispers on metro trains and trailing cars on a foggy Ring Road.
What was a little unpalatable though was the desire to decode everything to the last bit, for the reader. Doing it in the penultimate or the final chapter is a mere must but to deploy this technique throughout the book was a little annoying, especially during the parts concerning the investigation. Thankfully, the pace overrode those agonizing drops by unleashing another murderous twist and setting my interest right back on track

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