Afternoon all. I’ve now got a review for you of You Beneath Your Skin by Damyanti Biswas. Set in India, this dark story of corruption, power, drugs, murder, acid attacks and the huge difference between social classes will keep you turning the pages….
‘Gripping…crime fiction with a difference. This is a novel full of layers and depth, focusing on class and corruption in India with compassion and complexity.’
LIES. AMBITION. FAMILY.
It’s a dark, smog-choked new Delhi winter. Indian American single mother Anjali Morgan juggles her job as a psychiatrist with caring for her autistic teenage son. She is in a long-standing affair with ambitious police commissioner Jatin Bhatt – an irresistible attraction that could destroy both their lives.
Jatin’s home life is falling apart: his handsome and charming son is not all he appears to be, and his wife has too much on her plate to pay attention to either husband or son. But Jatin refuses to listen to anyone, not even the sister to whom he is deeply attached.
Across the city there is a crime spree: slum women found stuffed in trash bags, faces and bodies disfigured by acid. And as events spiral out of control Anjali is horrifyingly at the centre of it all …
In a sordid world of poverty, misogyny, and political corruption, Jatin must make some hard choices. But what he unearths is only the tip of the iceberg. Together with Anjali he must confront old wounds and uncover long-held secrets before it is too late.
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This is a dark and gritty crime thriller set in Delhi and has so many depths to it. The plot is fantastic, with a number of storylines taking place which will keep you engrossed. First up is Anjali – a single Indian American mother she is doing the best she can to bring up her autistic son, Nikhil. But there are many challenges that the condition presents and she has to try with his doctors, to manage them in the right way. After a particularly violent attack, Anjali is struggling to work out what is best for her son.
But then she becomes victim to an unsuspecting attack on the streets on Delhi. Was she the intended victim though? Jatin is her lover and a police commissioner who is there to support her and find her attacker, but he has his own problems. Not only is he having an affair, miserable at home with his wife, but he’s also sucked into the corruption at work. But is it too late to get out?
And with the bodies of women being found murdered, raped and disfigured from acid attacks, Jatin must try to find the killer before it’s too late. He enlists the help of his sister, Maya and her private investigation agency, but what they start to uncover could be the end of their worlds as they know it…..
The story covers drug and prostitution rings; the levels of deprivation and crime within the Indian slums and what the people are forced to do to be able to live; brutal acid attacks and the lasting physical and psychological impacts to the victims; the complexity and challenges of autism; family, love, secrets and betrayal; corruption within the police force; and how those at the other end of the social classes, those with power, can brush even the worst crimes under the carpet. Some of the areas covered will stay with you long after you’ve finished this book.
In terms of characters, many of them are really relatable and you can experience and feel the pain, frustration and suffering that they feel; with some of them having to make tough decisions. Anjali is such a lovely woman, volunteering to help in the slums and taking in a small girl to keep her safe whilst her Mum is missing, and what happens to her is terrible. The author really allows you to get to know Anjali and go on her journey with her as she battles many things, past and present and finds out some shocking secrets. Jatin is deeply in love with Anjali, and struggles with what happens to her. And whilst trying to find her attacker, discovers something that changes his life forever.
Throughout the story there are parts that are written in Hindi – some with translation, some not. I believe many of them are in reference to poetry, which is something that Jatin resonates with. However, I did find these slightly challenging as put me off my flow a little. Although I wouldn’t let this deter you from this fantastic, dark and gritty story.
The author covers some hard hitting areas, but she does it with honesty and with sensitivity; with inspiration taken from the charity work that she is involved with. And because of this the profits from this book go towards Project WHY and Stop Acid Attacks, which I think is a lovely and commendable thing to do.
If you’re looking for a dark, gritty crime thriller with elements of police procedural, that covers many things that will get you thinking, has some fantastic twists and will keep you turning the pages, then you should check this out!
about the author
Damyanti Biswas lives in Singapore, and works with Delhi’s underprivileged children as part of Project Why, a charity that promotes education and social enhancement in underprivileged communities. Her short stories have been published in magazines in the US, UK, and Asia, and she helps edit the Forge Literary Magazine.
Her debut crime novel You Beneath Your Skin is an Amazon bestseller.
Massive thanks to Damyanti and the publisher for gifting me a copy of the book in return for an honest review. All views and opinions are my own.
Have a wonderful afternoon!