Looking back over the years, I think thrillers would be the genre I have read most. For the most recent episode of our podcast, my friends and I had chosen Indian thrillers as the theme. This book, You Beneath Your Skin (YBYS) by Damyanti Biswas, was one we read for that podcast. It was one that I had been looking forward to reading since much before that as well.
YBYS is a crime thriller set in Delhi, and follows a few characters and their lives. The diversity of characters begins to stand out even as you read the first few chapters (the blurb gives it away too, but you don’t actually need it to see that). A psychiatrist, Anjali, with an autistic son. A police officer, Jatin, whose superior officer in the force is his father-in-law. His son who seems to be caught in society’s requirements of him. Jatin’s family life seems falling apart, and his life on the force is no walk in the park either. There’s a crime spree in the city, and the case that falls into his lap is right at the centre of it.
Overwhelming, that’s what this book is. There’s so much happening at that speed of a thriller novel that it does leave you somewhat breathless at the end of it all. Open the newspaper on any given day, more often than not you find a lot of news on crimes in the city. It’s horrifying to read that reality, so the storyline, so close to that reality, is equally horrifying to read (and that’s props to the author, not a flipside). The research for getting the storyline so real has to be immense, no doubt.
YBYS not only does justice to the crime part but also with the family drama, the backstories of the characters, the politics that somehow creep into investigations etc. To succeed, even Jatin has to resort to unusual measures, which added another dimension to the book. The characters are strong, each having strengths and weaknesses. Of the many characters, Anjali Morgan stands out as favorite, and her relationship with her son is one aspect of the book that leaves a mark on the reader.
The way the story is narrated makes emotions palpable. The one distraction, perhaps, is the Urdu lingo that’s there at few places. When it’s not easy to understand, it kind of becomes a small flipside, even if it gives some originality to the character or dialogue. The novel has more upsides than flipsides though.
Would I reread this thriller? I would. Not immediately, because it isn’t an easy read, but sometime down the line. The proceeds to the author also go to two non-profit organizations – Project Why, and Chaanv Foundation – so that’s another aspect worthy of appreciation. I definitely recommend this, and as I mention in my podcast, it is currently one of my top Indian thrillers.
Title: You Beneath Your Skin
Author: Damyanti Biswas
Genre: Crime Thriller
No. of Pages: 392
Publisher: Simon & Schuster India
Rating: 9 out of 10
I thank the author for providing me with a copy of the book to read and review. No other payment was taken for this review.