Tag Archives: Underbelly

Murder in Mahim by Jerry Pinto

murder-in-mahim-by-jerry-pinto Title: Murder in Mahim
Author: Jerry Pinto
Publisher: Speaking Tiger
ISBN: 978-9385755293
Genre: Literary Fiction, Indian fiction, Crime fiction
Pages: 224
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4 Stars

Before I begin this review let me tell you that this book is very different from ‘Em and the Big Hoom’ by the same author. If you are going to pick up ‘Murder in Mahim’ thinking it will be like his earlier novel, then don’t. It is different and refreshingly so. I would also like to add that it moves beyond just being a murder mystery (in the loose sense of the word) and goes to explore other themes, which I thought was very-well managed and achieved.

Being a Bombay (Yes, to me it will always be that) boy, I could identify to most of what is there in the book, in fact, even all of it – from the glitzy and glamorous to the dark underbelly, nothing was new and everything was a reminiscence of a time gone-by. This is precisely what I love about Jerry Pinto’s books – the description, the eye for detail, the nuances of not only the characters, but also the city (which also happened in Em and the Big Hoom in large doses) and that to me is some superlative craft.

I didn’t think much of the story in this one, but the only reason I kept turning the pages is because I cared for some characters and the language which is par excellence. Jerry Pinto’s writing embroils you in it, it makes you think, and before you know it you are also a part of its world.

So what is the plot of this book? A young man is found dead in the toilet of Matunga road station, with his stomach ripped open. Peter D’Souza, a retired journalist becomes a part of this investigation with his friend Inspector Jende and that’s when the story begins. It is also a book about unspoken love, about Peter’s fear that his son might be involved in the killings (yes, there are more than one) and it is about the city that never sleeps – the one that comforts and the one that can also be mercilessly cruel.

This is all I have to say about the plot. Now to the writing – I was taken in like I have mentioned earlier, by the raw energy of the city pulsating throughout the book. The nuances are meticulously and most certainly effortlessly thrown in – from the Barista at Shivaji Park, to the beaches, to the stench of urine and sweat at railway station platforms, and Marine Drive included. Mumbai (I have to call it that now) has come alive in this book.

Jerry’s writing is peppered with humour, sorrow and lots of ironic moments in the book which make you guffaw a lot. There is this straight-forwardness to his prose and yet the characters are more complex than ever. From Peter’s wife Millie who plays a minor role and yet shines with her complexities to Leslie (my personal favourite character) and the various shades there are to him, each character is crafted with a lot of deftness and logic. At one point, I felt as though I was in Bombay of my college years – there is no timeline as such in the book which works very well to its advantage. ‘Murder in Mahim’ is relevant, topical, fast-paced, and a book that will grab you by your throat.

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Mumbai Confidential by Saurav Mohapatra and Vivek Shinde

Mumbai Confidential by Saurav Mohapatra and Vivek Shinde Title: Mumbai Confidential
Author: Saurav Mohapatra and Vivek Shinde
Publisher: Inked, Penguin
ISBN: 9780143333357
Genre: Graphic Novel
Pages: 144
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

What better way to depict the dark and gory underworld and cop politics of Mumbai, than through a graphic novel? The underbelly is fantastically done with shades of brown, black and grey. Sometimes it also may happen that some graphic novels fail to convey what they want to, but that is not the case with “Mumbai Confidential” by Saurav Mohapatra and Vivek Shinde.

The book is set in Mumbai (but of course). It is the story of a cop, rather an ex-cop, Arjun Kadam who had it all going for him, till it all fell apart – both personally and professionally. He is no longer the man he used to be. He is addicted to heroin. He somehow has no will to live. There is the ACP who used to be his mentor and still considers him to be his protégé. Another cop is after his life. To top it all, there is a hit and run and Kadam survives, but a young urchin loses her life and Kadam will do all it takes to bring her justice.

There is everything in this graphic novel. It is fast-paced, riveting and has Bollywood with doses of underworld and suspense. However, the personal tragedy that occurs with Kadam should have been brought out well in my opinion. It was too rushed. The illustrations are terrific. They bind you and make you spend time on every page than just flip them soon enough.

The blocks and the blurbs are uniquely done. There is an effort put here to tell a story, to see it through from start to finish in a well-coordinated manner. The graphics depict the city’s dark side brilliantly. Vivek Shinde’s art and Mohapatra’s storytelling goes hand in hand quite well, providing the reader with a rollercoaster of a ride, laced with delusion, despair and some hope.

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