Crime fiction is something that very much interests me when it comes to reading. I grew up reading them. Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew and Sherlock Holmes, they were my favorites to read, still are. Over the years, I’ve come to feel that there are certain important parts to any good crime fiction. I look for them in every crime fiction novel. So did Anti-social Network by Piyush Jha meet the mark?
The plotline of the novel feels interesting when you read the blurb. And it is even when you read the story. Tech-savvy students being murdered all over Mumbai, each of them missing a body part. The list for possible victims isn’t less by any stretch of the imagination, so it makes for a page turner.
The first important part in a good crime fiction is the detective. The character of Inspector Virkar fits. He’s smart and diligent, wants the criminal to be caught and takes whatever turns he feels right to solve the crime. He also seems to fall for women very easily, something that comes back to bite him in the bum, more often than not. His attraction to Hindi dialogue seems to have reduced a little in this novel as compared to the previous one.
The next important part is the suspect. A tough to catch, tough to understand suspect makes for an interesting chase, an intriguing battle of minds. In this book, the suspect is a teenage girl who doesn’t seem like a perfect fit for the slot, but whose presence seems to be in every crime scene, leading Virkar to go in that direction. Not the most interesting criminal, but one that fits the title maybe.
The last part is the motive. I didn’t quite get it completely, even after re-reading. So to me, it’s a blurry motive. The plot and motive to form the “group” together serve to suggest that it may not be wise to put every bit of oneself in the internet. The idea is one that is well worth following in this cyber crazy world.
Does ASN serve to thrill? No. Not very much. ASN is a novel that is definitely a page turner, but it doesn’t hold my attention as much as the previous novel, The Compass Box Killer. Such a detailed description of the first crime wasn’t necessary. It was almost turned into a horror scene. Perhaps the idea was to show that the killer means business, but this high description was followed by mostly nothing about the remaining murders. It kind of took the thrill out of the novel. Things like the love-angle screwing Virkar up in more ways than one were already explored in the Compass Box Killer, and it felt repetitive seeing it in this one as well.
If ASN is the first novel of the series that you are reading, I think you’ll enjoy it. But as the novel following Compass Box Killer, it doesn’t live up to its billing.
Title: Anti-social Network
Series: Inspector Virkar #2
Author: Piyush Jha
Genre: Crime Fiction
Publisher: Rupa Publications
Price: INR. 195
(1st August 2014)