Book Review: Heads You Win

The Butcher of Benares

I finally succumbed to the temptation and grabbed the offer to have a Kindle Unlimited subscription for a year at Rs.1399/- (a limited-time offer that Amazon India is offering currently).   The first book that I decided to "borrow" was The Butcher of Benares by Mahendra Jakhar.

Hawa Singh is a police inspector from Delhi, who has come to Benares with his father, who wants to attain salvation by breathing his last in India's most sacred place.  Hawa has a bad past, including a bullet lodged in his brain, courtesy an encounter with a dacoit.   Benares is a place of dead, where bodies are burnt all the time.  But even there, a floating dead body of a foreigner with a cross stuck in her chest is a matter of concern.  Hawa happens to be in the vicinity of the crime scene and is called in for help since his exploits are known to the higher-ups.  

The death of the American lady also brings in an FBI agent, Ruby Malik.

Even as the investigation commences, there is another death - this time, the leader of the Aghoras.   Could it be the Nagas, who do not get along well with the Aghoras?  Victims continue to increases as Hawa Singh realises there is a cold-blooded serial killer out there, who announces the time of the next death through a horoscope.

The suspects are many, including the leader of Nagas and the new leader of Aghoras.  Could it also be the influential coal baron of the area?

It is a battle of wits between the seasoned cop and the killer, christened by the media as "the butcher".   Who has the last laugh?

A nicely written book by the author, the Butcher of Benares is fast-paced and easy to read.   The problem is the plot.  The author has thrown in pieces of Indian history - a temptation, which many of the new-age Indian authors cannot resist.  I thought I had heard the last of Brighu in Amish Tripathi's Shiva trilogy, but here we have Brighu Samhita, which seems to be containing secrets worth killing for!  But then why drag the Sepoy Mutiny into this?  As I understand, the author is a Bollywood screenplay writer - so I guess that explains!