Member Reviews

What a fantastic novel! Anappara did a brilliant job of balancing the horrific events of multiple child snatchings with the narrator Jai’s bright voice, filled with child-like innocent for most of the book. I also appreciated how she did not feel the need to explicitly define all non-English words used throughout the book, allowing me to further enmesh myself in Jai’s world as I read.

Was this review helpful?

Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line was a "Did not finish" for me. I just could not connect with the characters to keep this story moving. I found it heartbreaking that most people did not even respond to the missing children, and horrifying the state of poverty most lived in. It was eye-opening to realize how many in India's slums live - and the precarious reality of many children there. Very disconcerting that so many children in India disappear without a trace on a daily basis - as more children began to disappear and excuses were made it made me feel like Jai and his friends were not going to find any answers, and instead were placing themselves in harm's way.

Was this review helpful?

Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara is an exception debut. The story is immersive, and Patrol is an exceptional story teller, her ability to write at a child’s POV and keep your attention, was masterfully done. I honestly can’t praise this book enough. Thank you, Random House for gifting me this DARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 4/5 stars

Was this review helpful?

Magnificent story telling! Set in one of India's city slums, housing Muslims and Hindus alike, children are disappearing. The atmosphere is described in perfect detail so the reader feels like they are there. The best part of this book though are the 3 friends (nine years-old) who decide they will investigate the disappearance of the children in the area they live. If you loved Behind the Beautiful Forevers you will love this book; great pair and compare. By far, my favorite book of 2020 so far. Starred review from Kirkus. 5.0/5.0

Was this review helpful?

“Do you know there are people who will make you their slaves? You’ll be locked up in the bathroom and let out only to clean the house. Or you’ll be taken across the border to Nepal and forced to make bricks in kilns where you won’t be able to breathe. Or you’ll be sold to criminal gangs that force children to snatch mobiles and wallets.” Hundreds of children go missing in India and some do not survive. The author of the book wanted to draw attention to these facts, but she also wanted to show the “resilience, cheerfulness and swagger” of the marginalized children that she had interviewed when she was a journalist. Those characteristics are captured in Jai, the 9 year old amateur detective, and his friends who try to track down why one if their schoolmates has disappeared. And he is not the only one who fails to return home. At least Jai tried to solve the mystery, which is more than can be said for the police, despite the bribes that they received from people who really couldn’t afford to pay them.

The mystery and detection part of this book was just ok for me. What I really liked about the book were the incredible details about life in a basti (poor area) of India. The author doesn’t bother to translate for non Indians so it’s like a disorienting immersion in the country - including the homes, jobs, food, schools, pay toilets and smog. For example: “Quarter runs a gang that beats up teachers and rents out fake parents to students when they get into trouble and the headmaster insists on meeting their ma-papas.”, “...he stops at a theka in Bhoot Bazaar to drink a quarter-peg of daru, which is how he got the name Quarter.” and “His nose learned to catch the weakest of smells from hours before – marigold garlands, sliced papayas served with a pinch of chaat powder on top, puris fried in oil — to guide his steps to the right or left in dark corners.”

The story is told primarily from Jai’s point of view, and he was a terrific child, but then there are also chapters from the point of view of each of the missing children. So, I liked the descriptions and the voices, but I’m just not that crazy about child detectives. Overall, I found the book both educational and moving.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

Was this review helpful?

Supposedly a book about children in the basti (slums) trying to find out what happened to their missing friend, it really is more of a stream-of-consciousness about the setting and thoughts of the inhabitants.

I kept wanting the book to get better. The writing style is so full of non-English words and sing-song prose that it is a bit hard to keep up.

Some parts are beautifully written, but then those parts are few and far between.

Overall I was wishing for more, and I only finished in order to give a full review.

If you want to read a book about social injustice in India, by all means take the time to read. However, I was able to glean the gist of the topic after the first few chapters, and I was left wanting a better resolution.

Was this review helpful?

For me, the vivid Indian setting was the star of this book. Anappara, a journalist, captures the myriad sights, sounds, smells—and complicated network of politics and power—in an impoverished Indian neighborhood.

This is a place that those in higher castes would prefer to pretend does not exist, where residents worry that reporting concerns to the police will result in punishment such as the bulldozing of their homes, where a crush of population means knowing others’ intimate secrets and they yours, where the stench of refuse mixes with the delicious tang of Indian food, which we luckily get to read about frequently.

It was difficult for me to get a handle on the tone of the book. Despite the mysterious disappearances of children that are at the heart of the story, this primarily felt young adult and light to me. It is told in young Jai’s point of view and primarily focuses on his outlandish ideas for becoming a detective (which are based on watching police shows), his youthful belief that he and a ragtag group of friends can quickly resolve the mystery, his often illogical and juvenile trains of thought, and his otherwise simple and age-appropriate concerns (Does he seem smart? How can he escape grown-up control and go where he wants, when he wants? Can he get away with clowning around in class? What’s the power dynamic between him and his two best friends?)

Late in the book, the tone takes what felt to me like an abruptly dark turn, and I felt a little jarred. The author’s note at the end outlines the often ignored life-and-death tragedies that inspired this work of fiction.

Random House and NetGalley provided me with a prepublication copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Was this review helpful?

Even poor children in India like watching television detectives. Nine-year-old Jai and his best friend Pari have their first case. Their classmate, Bahadur, turns up missing from their neighborhood. And he isn’t the only missing child. They investigate in the slums of India as the Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line.

It is interesting to read about a culture that is rarely depicted in books or films. In the afterword, the author states that “as many as 180 children are said to go missing in India each day.” Each day! Why isn’t something done? Are they victims of a gang of serial killers? Are they being harvested for their organs? Or are they now slaves in a faraway land? The underlying issue here overwhelms my thoughts on the book. However, the book is an eye-opener. It even addresses the Muslim Hindu racism currently being felt in India and Pakistan. My only complaint was that the ending was not quite as closed loop as I normally like. But for the intriguing setting, the book receives 4 stars from me! Note there is a glossary of the Indian words at the end that would have useful while reading the book.

Thanks to Random House and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Was this review helpful?

After Bahadur disappeared, Paresh is telling Quarter about the police constables who demanded gold and cash from all the ladies and hit Buffalo Baba with a baton when they asked for help to find Bahadur.
Jai, 9 years old who lives in the slums of India, likes to think he knows a lot about solving mysteries as he watches a lot of cop shows. He tells his friends, Pari and Faiz that he is going to solve the case and Faiz is going to be his assistant. He creates the Djinn Patrol.

Then another person disappears and another and yet the police don’t seem to care. Could it be a they are not real. Jai and the parents of the missing youths are the only ones that seem to be working on the case.

A great read and one that brings to light the lack of concern for the underprivileged by the police in the slums of India......and elsewhere?

Was this review helpful?

What you need to know about this book is…

It’s going to break your heart.

It starts out with the most innocent children on earth, living in a land of abject poverty and corruption. And despite all the evils of their world, these kids are just so funny and pure. And you think you’re going to get a story that’s a bit adventure, a bit coming of age, and a sprinkling of magic.

But, oh, this gets dark and tragic. I wish it hadn’t. I completely understand why it does – I was just unprepared after the set up to enter a world quite so real and horrifying.

It’s a well written book and, I think, a necessary book. It just wasn’t what I expected.

*ARC Provided via Net Galley

Was this review helpful?

Published by Random House on February 4, 2020

Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line is a grim novel, but it uses humor to ease the pain that readers who empathize with the main characters will necessarily feel. Life is a mix of joy and sorrow; both are represented here.

Two boys and a girl have disappeared from a slum. The police, having no incentive to look for them, label them as runaways. Parents fear that they have been snatched and sold into slave labor or to harvesters of kidneys. Jai’s friend Faiz believes they have been stolen by a djinn. At age nine, Jai is prepared to believe all those theories. He also knows one of the missing boys.

Having watched countless episodes of Police Patrol, Jai decides to solve the case. He expects success to be rewarded with a career as a detective (jasoos). His house is the present headquarters of the Jasoos Jai Agency, but only when Runu, his elder sister, is not present to break up the meetings he holds with his assistants, Faiz and Pari. Runu is a track star, although running track is her own version of running away. Eventually other children go missing, including two Muslim kids, sending the basti residents into a justified panic.

While calling attention to trafficking and forced labor of children in India, Deepa Anappara also focuses on other problems: divisions of religion and caste, nationalism, sexism, corruption, poverty, and judgmental gossip. The first girl who went missing is rumored to have worked in a brothel. Cheating wives and abusive husbands are among those who “disassemble her character with the viciousness of starved dogs chancing upon a scrawny bird.” They condemn her because her skirts are too short and she has been seen chatting with a Muslim boy, proof of her “utter moral failure.” The absence of evidence that she is a brothel worker does not discourage the gossip. Some people, Anappara suggests, enjoy the misfortune of others if it gives them an opportunity to gossip and condemn.

Other examples of hypocrisy fuel Anappara’s humor. It is widely believed that djinns have taken over an abandoned palace, but Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, and “maybe even Buddhists” join Muslims in leaving letters at the palace, filled with wishes they hope the djinns will grant. Some of the politicians “who became Union ministers only because they called us Muslims foreigners,” who “holler during rallies that Hindustan is only for Hindus, and that [Muslims] should go to Pakistan” sneak into the palace to leave their entreaties, first making sure no cameras can take pictures of them bowing to the djinns. Superstition has created the only place where all people are equal.

Jai’s family and other residents of the basti live in fear that the police will bring bulldozers and knock down their homes. They make regular payments to the police to keep their homes intact, but any trouble might provoke unwanted attention, spurring the government to demolish the slum. The police accept bribes to look for missing children but their only interest lies in protecting their own jobs, which means protecting the powerful. Jai’s father pretends not to worry because “Our basti has been here for years. We have identity cards, we have rights. We’re not Bangladeshis.” His mother argues that they only have rights two weeks before an election, the only time politicians pay attention to them.

The plot invites fear that Jai’s sister has been snatched, perhaps to avenge the beheading of a revered buffalo that lived in an alley near their home. Uncertainty about the fate of a missing child might be worse than certainty that the child is lost forever. Suspects are plentiful, as suspicion falls on anyone who has earned resentment, from bullies in the basti to prosperous hi-fi people who live in high-rise buildings, employing basti residents as servants.

In a sense, Djinn Patrol is a coming-of-age-early novel. Jai plays at being a detective, imagining he can use the skills he gleans from Police Patrol, but his imagination gives way to the harshness of reality by the time the story ends. He recognizes that crime reenactments are not stories, that losses viewed on television are not the same as losses experienced. He is not old enough to understand the words he hears from an older resident — the lucky are those who “grow old pretending they have some control over their lives, but even they will realize at some point that everything is uncertain, bound to disappear forever” — but it seems certain he will internalize the lesson.

Jai is a memorable character at the heart of a powerful story. The slow transition from humor to grim realism reminds readers that life is never as simple as we might wish it to be, and that it is wrong to turn away from the misfortune of others because they live in a different place, belong to a different religion, or live an impoverished life that they did not choose.


Was this review helpful?

Deepa Anappara has gifted readers with her outstanding debut novel, Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line, set in the slums of India. Currently a doctoral student in England, Anappara grew up in Southern India and has won journalism awards for her reports on the effects of poverty and religious violence on the education of Indian children.

In Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line, she draws upon her field of journalistic expertise to tell the haunting story of three young friends in the slums as they learn of the sudden disappearance, one by one, of other children living in their neighborhood. Jai, age 9, and friends Pari and Faiz ponder what may have happened to Bahadur, the stutterer, also their age. A fan of TV shows such as Police Patrol and Live Crime, Jai determines to find Bahadur. Jai believes he knows “loads about detectiving," and Police Patrol has taught him “exactly how to find someone missing.”

As more children from the neighborhood mysterious vanish, the three friends become more determined Have they run away as the uncaring police suggest? Have they been kidnapped? Have they been captured by an evil Djinn? Jai, Pari, and sometimes Faiz, who often must work, search ditches, rubbish yard, and Bhoot-bazaar for the missing children or for clues to their disappearance. Jai even steals his mother’s emergency money from a tin at home so he and Pari can take the Purple Line--the new subway line—to another city where they face danger and receive advice from street kids. The children start listing suspects.

Anappara paints a vivid picture of poverty juxtaposed with wealth in the “hi-fi” housing across the rubbish mounds. She dramatizes the police callousness, corruption, and threats, as the slum community desperately needs help. She introduces readers to ghosts and Djinn and to a sacred buffalo that lies unmoving in the alley “like a sage who has been meditating for hundreds and hundreds of years.” She shows how easy it is for one religion to blame another. She portrays harsh realities gradually eating away at innocent optimism. Most of all, she gives us a searing, but deeply touching, portrait of contemporary India through the eyes of its most vulnerable.

Was this review helpful?

Perhaps it’s the reporter’s instinct for detail that makes this debut book so riveting. As a journalist, Anappara saw a lot of poor neighborhoods desperate for the return of missing and most likely exploited children. In her creation of a young child as the protagonist in this story, she has created an observer not hindered by adult knowledge, one who sees the world through new eyes. Jai lives in a slum. He goes to school unwillingly, and for good reason—gangs, uncaring teachers and large classes. He‘s Hindi. One of his best friends is Muslim. His other best friend is a girl who excels in academics. His sister is involved in track and field at their school and hopes to be able to compete on the state level. As children disappear from the neighborhood, Jai and his two friends, become detectives hoping to discover what has happened to them. Local Hindis want to blame it on the Muslims, which turns out to be false, but puts undue pressure on the small Muslim population. As a children’s librarian, I’ve always been impressed by the unexpected, wise observations of children, and this book confirms my belief. Children can be keen observers of the word around them. Although the city is unnamed in the book, if you’ve read BEHIND THE BEAUTIFUL FOREVERS you are familiar with the corrupt police forces, the conditions of slums, and the challenges of survival. This book puts a clear picture in the reader’s mind of the toll it takes on children.

Was this review helpful?

It took me a while to get into this book, but knowing it was based on real events made me want to get to the end.

Children are disappearing from Indian Bastis. Is the the Djinn that are taking them? Or something more sinister?
Schools don't seem to care these children are missing, so the children who are left must work together along with their neighbours in the bastis to help find the missing.

I liked this book because most of it is told from the point of view of a child, but I found myself scanning over some parts as I lost interest. However, that could have just been me as I'm having trouble concentrating lately due to my anxiety and depression.

I definitely recommend this as a read to anyone like me who likes novels based in India!

Was this review helpful?

A depressing but interesting read, apparently kids in India just disappear all the time... like, ALL THE DAMN TIME. i don't know how accurate this story is compared to 2020 India, but kids (of some number) disappear in every country, and seeing this through the eyes of a child changes the story.
Well written overall, recommended.

Was this review helpful?

I know the conditions in India are terrible but this book was too depressing and and gave no hope for the future. While it may have realistic, I did not like it.

Was this review helpful?

Jai lives at the end of the Purple Line in a slum overshadowed by the HI FI buildings. His teenage sister loves to run, his mother works for a madam in one of the buildings, and his father works as well, which makes him luckier than many of his friends. He decides to investigate when one of his classmates goes missing- a big task for a 9 year old, but he ropes in Pari, a very smart girl, and Faiz. And then another child is gone and another. Although this suggests that Pari and Faiz are actively working with Jai, he's pretty much on his own most of the time as he works his way through the bazaar (and as a tea boy). There's religious tension, poverty, fear, and class differences. This flags a bit before picking up in the last 20 percent. It's notable for the light Anapara shines on conditions in India; it is not a feel good story. Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC. A worthy serious read.

Was this review helpful?

180 children go missing each day in India. Only 1 in 3 will ever be found. These are staggering statistics and the basis of this novel.

<img src=""/>

<b>Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line</b> is a coming of age novel set in the slums of an Indian city. Young Jai has a vivid imagination and a fascination with cop shows. When one of his classmates goes missing he enlists his two best friends, Pari and Faiz, into "detectivating" with him. As the three set about on their case we are introduced to the sights, sounds, and characters that fill the basti. Although this book shifts narrators to lend a voice to the victims as they go missing, it is told entirely from the perspective of children. Ranging in age from 5 to 16 you get to see how much they are neglected and overlooked, how much responsibility is placed in their small laps and the dangers they face as they try to navigate this world. You also get to see how they pass on knowledge through stories - <i>"Listen. This story may save your life."</i>

You're exposed to the corruption of the police force who are more concerned with collecting their hafta than looking for the lost. Police are not there to protect but to be feared. Parents are hesitant to report crimes. The threat of bulldozers demolishing their settlement is very real. You get to see how prejudice colors the investigation. Gender bias leads to adultification of female victims. Girls are mislabeled as older. Their sexual reputation becomes a focal point. Frictions between religious groups are exacerbated as rumor and innuendo lead to vigilante justice while the people wait for the police to respond.

Deepa Anappara has spent 11 years working as a journalist in India. Through her interviews with impoverished students she got to see their pluckiness in the face of adversity. She knew that she wanted to tell this story but felt that only a novel would give her the breadth to truly tell this story from their perspective.

<i>Special thanks to NetGalley, Random House Publishing Group and Deepa Anappara for advanced access to this book.</i>

Was this review helpful?


Nine year old Jai loves watching reality crime solving shows on TV and playing with his best friends Pari and Faiz in their crowded, impoverished basti at the end of the metro train purple line in India. When a classmate goes missing, Jai decides to put his detective skills to the test, with Pari and Faiz as his assistants. Together they draw up a long list of people to interview and investigate and places to visit and surveil. But what starts as a game becomes something much more sinister as more and more children disappear. With an indifferent police force, terrified parents, religious and cultural tensions, and the rumors of soul snatching djinns, Jai and his friends lives will never be the same again.

It’s a difficult story based on the very real life fact that as many as 180 children go missing in India each day. The author was a reporter in India for more than a decade and found that if these disappearances made the news at all, the focus was on the perpetrators of the crimes, not the victims. So Anappara set out to interview the children in the poorest areas, many of them working as scavengers in junkyards or begging by the sides of the busy streets. She was struck by how cheeky, funny, playful, and smart these kids were, that they were anything but victims. And she wanted to tell their story and perhaps try to figure out- How does one live with uncertainty each day? How do you find hope when you are told there is none?

I loved this book and found the writing with its vivid details of day to day life in an Indian slum and around the bustling marketplace to be absolutely transportive. I could smell the street food and sweets, feel the heaviness of breathing in the ever present smog that at times got so thick school was canceled for the children. While Jai and his friends are so young, I was able to see the world through their eyes, to watch what started as an adventure become something much more scary, to see the fear in their parents eyes and to try and head the warnings to stick together and come straight home after school but to also be buzzing with youthful energy and curiosity. It’s an incredibly rare talent to be able to write from a child’s point of view so well and Anappara does that here.

This was by far the best book I’ve read in a long time and already one of my all time favorites. Highly, highly recommended! Add this one to the top of your TBR!

Was this review helpful?

Very well written. Engrossing and stunning. If you're looking for a well told story that will give you all the feels this is the one. Make plenty of time because once you pick it up you won't want to put it down. Happy reading!

Was this review helpful?