Cover Image: The Blue Monsoon

The Blue Monsoon

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The Blue Monsoon was a powerful, complex procedural by Damyanti Biswas. It transported me to India and its culture and customs. The setting of this gritty, bleak, and suspenseful crime drama is the city of Mumbai during the season of torrential rain, with the potential for drenching the evidence at crime scenes, washing out roads, and interrupting phone connections. The relentless weather makes the complicated crime investigation even more difficult.

We are quickly introduced to numerous characters, some referred to by several names. The author has helpfully provided a list of characters and any alternate names at the beginning of the book. This is always awkward and time-consuming to navigate with a Kindle. I solved this by keeping the list open on my iPad while reading on my Kindle. This was only necessary briefly as the characters were so well-defined and distinct that there was no tendency to confuse them. There was also a helpful glossary of unfamiliar Indian words at the end of the book.

This was a gritty, compelling, and complicated tale of murder, police corruption, religious strife, politics, social hierarchy and stratification, vast wealth amidst extreme poverty, class differences, caste, bigotry and prejudice.

Senior Inspector Arnav Sing Rajput is a kind, honest, dedicated police officer. His high-caste position prevents him from fully understanding the plight of those born into the low caste. He regards any distinctions as a thing of the past. When a badly mutilated and castrated body of a man is found at a Hindu temple dedicated to Ma Kaali, Arnav investigates this shocking murder. A tantric symbol has been carved on the body. He must navigate a tangled web of secrets, greed, resentment, betrayal, revenge and depravity. He investigates with his trusted officer, Sita and by informers on the fringe of the law. There is a mole within the police department leaking police work, and a horrific photo of the victim at the temple is uploaded to the website of Chita Varli, a social influencer with many followers.

Sita is a female police officer with a low-caste background. As a woman in a male-dominated police force, she is ignored and undervalued, except by Arnav, who admires her work ethic. Their efforts lead them to dark, disturbing crimes involving child pornography and human trafficking. Highly positioned Officer Desai is manipulating evidence to protect his high-caste peers and may be taking bribes.

Arnav must work to solve the crimes, and two more bodies with similar mutilations are found near Hindu temples. He is dealing with issues in his private life. His wife Tara is seven months pregnant and in a wheelchair following a spinal injury. She is headstrong and bored and, against advice, starts volunteering at a charity for children. This is next to a wig factory that has become the focus of interest because of its connection to the victims and suspects.

Tara receives threatening messages and further injures herself on one of her outings. A Mafia don and his goons have come under suspicion. His girlfriend, Zoya, is Tara's best friend. Tara is back in hospital, and her doctor has disappeared. Also, among those under suspicion is the social influencer, Chita, the temple priest and his tantric nephew, the manager of the wig factory, and the leader of a political movement pressing for more rights for those of low caste. The case is solved in a complex and surprising conclusion I never anticipated. Will a connection be found among any of the suspects and/or the crimes driven by another individual?

It is recommended to any reader who enjoys challenging police procedurals and crime fiction within an informative cultural setting, a vivid sense of place and characters who come to life on the pages. I wish to thank NetGalley, the publisher and author of Damyanti Biswas, for an early copy of the book. I have already purchased and downloaded the previous book in the series. Publication is due on October 24th.

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I enjoyed the first book of this detective thriller series set in Mumbai when I read it earlier this year, and I've been looking forward to read the sequel. I do love a good story with an international setting, and it's not often that I get to armchair travel to India... Add a healthy dose of murder and a focus on personal developments in main character Arnav's life, and I was very excited to start reading The Blue Monsoon. I can't deny that it turned out to be a very solid sequel indeed!

There is no doubt that once again Mumbai is the star of the show. The Indian setting is what brought this series on my radar in the first place, and both books have more than delivered so far. There are so many vivid descriptions of both the city itself and the local culture and customs, and it really helped giving some insight in what life in Mumbai is like. There is a useful glossary in the back to help with the unfamiliar terms, and you will also find a complete list of characters you can fall back on if you don't exactly remember who everyone is and/or where they stand. I do recommend reading the books in order though, because you will be missing out on important character background otherwise.

The plot in The Blue Monsoon is both complex and intricate, and it was interesting to see everything slowly coming together. There is a lot of focus on politics and religion as well as Indian culture; while intriguing, I did feel it ended up overpowering the plot in points. In fact, I'm positive it ended up affecting the pace as well, and it took me a lot longer than expected to actually finish this story. Part of this might just have been the reading slump talking, but the pace did seem a lot slower than in the first book. I can't deny that this sequel goes out with a bang though, and things definitely speed up towards the ending.

It was great to meet up with main character Arnav again, and I really appreciated the focus on his personal life as well as the police investigation itself. This balance really enriched the plot and it gave everything that happened even more impact. There is no doubt that the case in The Blue Monsoon ended up hitting very close to home! That said, I could have done without the love triangle vibe and Sita pining for Arnav... It kind of put a damper on things for me, but then again I'm always allergic to love triangles.

If you are looking for a complex, vivid and well written detective thriller where the Mumbai setting really jumps off the page, I can recommend both Blue Mumbai books. Armchair travel and murder; what more can you ask for?

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Damyanti Biswas transports readers to Mumbai, India, during the middle of monsoon season in The Blue Monsoon , the second book in the Blue Mumbai police procedural series featuring Senior Inspector Arnav Singh Rajput. A ritual murder has occurred at a temple and Arnav is called to the shocking crime scene. When video footage of the murder is uploaded onto the account of a social media influencer, additional twists to the murder occur. On top of this, Arnav’s wife Tara is seven months pregnant and in a wheel chair due to a spinal cord injury. Sub-inspector Sita Naik is back in this novel as well to help with the investigation, but things don’t go smoothly. Anonymous threats and storms both inside the investigation and weather related are relentless.

The story is mainly from Arnav’s point of view. However, there are also chapters featuring Tara, Sita, and an unknown antagonist. The characters are well-defined and readers can easily relate to them.

The book is very atmospheric and easily transports readers to Mumbai in July. The author did a great job of portraying the city, its people, and the cultural lifestyles. A deeply involved plot with twists and turns and an ending that was startling combined with a terrific narrative made this an unforgettable read. One thing that I wish I had realized before I started the book is that there is a glossary of terms at the end of the book. That would have been helpful as I read it. Themes include murder, corruption, trust, class implications, religious differences, wealth differences, social hierarchy systems and stratification, prejudices, and much more.

Overall, this book was suspenseful and thought-provoking with an incredible setting and diverse characters. If you enjoy well-written crime thrillers and police procedurals with a strong lead character, then this may be the series for you. I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series as well as reading the earlier novel.

Thomas & Mercer and Damyanti Biswas provided a complimentary digital ARC of this novel via NetGalley. All opinions expressed in this review are my own. Publication date is currently set for October 24, 2023.

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What a good read that was. The second in the Blue Mumbai Series and I hadn’t read the previous book but this read well as a stand-alone. An engrossing read set in Mumbai and following Senior Inspector Arnav Singh Rajput as he deals with a shocking murder. I loved how his family and friends were integrated into the story and the explanation about the caste system that is clearly still so heavily ingrained in Indian culture. Fast paced and told from the POV’s of multiple characters this was a corker of a story.

Briefly, a body is discovered at a Kaali temple, badly mutilated, and Arnav is handed the case. Meanwhile his wife Tara is struggling with her lot in life, confined to a wheelchair and pregnant she is looking for something to occupy her time and she finds it in the shape of a charity. But as more bodies are found Arnav doesn’t know who to trust amongst his own team and his family and friends receive threats…

This is a dark and very gritty book with a number of upsetting and disturbing elements including mutilation, male and female abuse, gender and caste discrimination however, it is all dealt in an appropriate manner and isn’t gratuitous. The thing that I found most shocking was the fact that the caste system is still so prevalent. I’ve spent a bit of time in Mumbai, working, and I didn’t notice it at all. There were a lot of upsetting things I encountered but not this. I found the whole book very interesting and entertaining. Loved it.

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Damyanti Biswas owes me for a night of sleep that I will never be able to collect. I began reading The Blue Monsoon one evening, shortly before going to bed. I finished it around 2:30 the next morning. The frenetic pace of the plot, the fascinating twists, the fully-realized characters, and the epic conclusion deserve to be inhaled, drawn into your mind in one sitting, even if it takes you until the wee hours of the morning to finish.

Detective Arnav Singh Rajput is called to the scene of a vicious murder. A body, mutilated beyond recognition, has been left posed on the steps of a temple. The killer seemingly left no clues that might help the police find them. Arnav, though, is worried that this could spark a religious war between Muslims and Hindus. It would not be the first time that battles between the two populations had turned deadly, and it could easily happen again.

Meanwhile at home, his wife Tara is dealing with an unexpected pregnancy as well as her confinement to a wheelchair. In the first book of the series, she is critically injured and almost dies. Her recovery has been slow and difficult, and her legs cannot obey her wishes to move. Although she can’t feel any pain in her legs, being in a wheelchair in an apartment while pregnant is frustrating and depressing. Arnav helps as much as he can, hired caregivers and therapists come regularly, housekeepers take care of the cleaning, but Tara increasingly feels trapped.

Then, a few days later, another mutilated body on the steps of another temple. Arnav discovers this victim was well known to his family, and the possible threat becomes a real threat when texts from unknown numbers begin to come to Tara’s phone. But who is behind all of this? The Muslim gangster who has returned to Mumbai after fleeing the country? The Bollywood actress and social media influencer who had a video of the first victim posted to one of her accounts? A corrupt police officer? The priest, or his nephew? Someone else entirely? Arnav feels the pressure of raising a teenage daughter, anticipating a newborn, and trying to find a killer before the killer fulfills their threats against him and his family.

And both the city of Mumbai and a lingering torrential monsoon rain are characters as well. One lead takes them to a slum that lies in the shadow of expensive high-rises. Pouring rain creates chaos in the crime scenes and on traveling through the city. Mumbai’s diversity of religions, its disparity in incomes, its unspoken (and illegal) adherence to the caste system, all make the scenes come vividly to life. The smells of spices, the taste of the foods, the colors of saris, the choking pollution and open sewage defying legal attempts to clean things up and illegal attempts to cast poor people out, all come to light within this book. Someday I would love to travel to Mumbai, If I do, I may bring The Blue Monsoon to introduce me to this amazing city.

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I took a while to write this review because I've been having a tough time trying to reconcile my feelings about The Blue Monsoon. Where The Blue Bar was gripping and easy to love, ending on quite a hopeful note, this one picks up again two years later on a somewhat dreary note. And as the rains and flooding in Mumbai threaten Arnav's case, so does the dreariness sometimes overwhelm the reader.

When I say dreary, I don't mean that the story is slow in any way. It's quite as gripping as The
Blue Bar, maybe even more so because we already know, and are invested in, the main characters. In this one, Arnav is faced by how much he doesn't perceive or understand because he is a high caste man in Indian society; Tara is struggling with her lack of independence due to her high-risk pregnancy and injury; Sita is just trying to do her job without complicated relationships; and in the midst of it all, the deaths--dismembered men with tantric symbols carved in flesh--and threats keep coming. Links to influencers and hopeful politicians again push these cases into the limelight... and maybe there's a point where Arnav's weariness seeps through the narrative and makes everything feel too much, too bleak.

In many ways, The Blue Monsoon is a critique on the lingering caste system in India; but more than that, it attempts to show how privilege blinds one to injustices, how affirmative action policies don't quite solve anything (and sometimes makes them worse), and how gender (or rather, being female) exacerbates everything. It's not an easy read by any means, but then again, none of Biswas's books are.

Overall, the Blue Monsoon is a dark, gritty, crime procedural/thriller and probably should come with some trigger warnings. (Some gore, including castration; sexual abuse and harassment; difficult pregnancies; discrimination/slurs against transwomen)

Note: I received a digital ARC of this book from Thomas & Mercer via NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

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The Blue Monsoon, a follow-up to The Blue Bar, by Damyanti Biswas will grab you by the collar and take you deep into the world of grisly crimes—ritual mutilation, pornography, and human trafficking—through the waterlogged, relentlessly rain-slammed streets of Mumbai. This impeccably researched novel gives you fascinating and shocking insights into multiple worlds: the Mumbai police department, the caste system, religion, and the underworld. But what most compelled me to keep turning the pages (late into the night) are the characters. You can’t stop rooting for Senior Inspector Arnav Rajput, his wife Tara, and their daughter Pia. Damyanti coalesces the brutal with the tender, the savage with the poignant, with such masterful ease, that her people become your people (especially if you’ve lived with them through the first book). I found myself getting genuinely tense and hoping fervently that they’d surmount the odds that never stop stacking up against them.

Rain is a lieitmotif, a main character, so viscerally woven in, that you feel the dampness and slush seeping into you as you make your way through this pacy thriller.

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The Blue Monsoon has all the elements of a suspense novel that will keep you hooked till the end. It also touches upon ill practices, stereotypes and crimes on women that still exist in the society. The novel will take you on an emotional roller-coaster as Senior Inspector Arnav Singh Rajput, with Inspector Sita, tries to solve the gruesome murders by a serial killer.

This is the second book in Blue Mumbai series. I was glad to read about Arvav and Tara's life together and how they were navigating through challenges. It made me love Arnav's character even more.

At times I did get mad at Tara for some of her decisions. In fact her daughter sounded more mature than her. But I could also see why she felt trapped and frustrated.

The pages are filled with non stop action and as the story progressed it was becoming hard for me to decide on who the killer was.

The ending surprised me. I was taken aback when the villain was revealed and the way the scenes unfolded. What an intense dramatic ending to the story. I really enjoyed reading the book.

Thank you Netgallery and Thomas n mercer for the copy of the book.

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The Blue Monsoon by Damayanti Biswas is the second book of the series and sequel to The Blue Bar. Though I feel that it becomes more interesting to read this book after having read The Blue Bar, but the way the author introduces the characters, this book can also be read as a standalone. She has started the book with Characters Who Appear in The Blue Monsoon along with their brief descriptions and ended the book with a glossary of terms, notes and also bibliography.
This book starts two years after The Blue Bar, and Arnav Singh Rajput is now a Senior Inspector with Mumbai Police and is happily married to Tara. Pia, their daughter is fifteen and their second child is on the way.
Arnav has a different mystery to solve, that of a murder at a temple, the body is disfigured and it looks like a religious killing.
Almost everyone that he suspects has a motive for murder, if not a motive, there is something about them which makes Arnav think that this could be the culprit.
The book is fast paced with short chapters and points of view of multiple characters but not once was I confused as the author had mentioned the name of the character whose point of view was being mentioned.
The research that has gone into the book is visible in the detailed descriptions like Mumbai and its monsoon, police procedures, the police and their network of informers, social themes like trafficking and , the deep rooted caste system in India,
The book is a page-turner with all the components of drama, secrets, betrayals, trafficking, corruption, loyalty, revenge, and power. There are leaked videos of murder scenes on social media and there are influencers and gangsters. And above all family and the need to protect it.
As we reach the end of the book, it becomes more gripping and I just could not put the book down, because I really wanted to know who was doing it all.
A must read book for all especially those who love crime thrillers.

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This book is the sequel to The Blue Bar but can be read as a standalone.

During monsoon season, Mumbai's torrential downpours, flooded streets, and swamped rail tracks clog parts of the city to a standstill. This makes the job of the police even harder, and Senior Inspector Arnav Singh Rajput must navigate flash floods and slosh through waterlogged streets while investigating a heinous murder.

Rajput is called to the scene when a body is found in a Hindu temple dedicated to the goddess Ma Kaali. The murder victim is unrecognizable, with his face flayed by vicious slashes; the nose and ears sliced away; the eyes gouged out; and the genitals cut off. The body also has a tantric symbol, representing the vagina, drawn on his chest. To add to the desecration, gold jewelry - offered to the goddess by prosperous devotees - is missing from the temple safe.

Rajput's investigative team includes Inspector Jivan Desai - a high-caste man who resents Rajput's rapid rise in the police department; and Sub-inspector Sita Naik - a low-caste woman who has a secret crush on her boss. Caste differences cause severe discrimination in Indian society, though Rajput - who's high-caste himself - wrongly thinks all that bigotry is a thing of the past. Thus Rajput is taken aback when snobby Desai tries to manipulate evidence to protect his high-caste peers while scapegoating low-caste individuals.

As Rajput's team investigates the homicide in the temple, video footage of the crime scene is released on the website of social media influencer, activist, and former Bollywood actress Chitra Varli. Chitra insists she was hacked, but Rajput isn't convinced. The crime scene video, along with other clues, lead the police to look at a variety of suspects, including Chitra Varli; the priest at the Ma Kaali temple; a tantric practitioner; a thug who works for a Mumbai mafia don; the owner of a hair factory; and political activists trying to get low-caste candidates elected to government positions.

Additional murders raise the stakes, and Rajput's superior, Assistant Police Commissioner Atul Bapat puts pressure on Rajput to arrest the culprit.This is made more difficult by the fact that some police are corrupt; there's a mole in the police department; and someone is sending threatening texts in an attempt to derail the police inquiries.

Rajput also has a lot going on in his personal life. His beautiful, wheelchair-bound wife Tara - who was paralyzed by a bullet - is far along in a risky pregnancy. Despite her challenges, Tara wants to volunteer for a nonprofit that helps young girls. Rajput, however, wants Tara to stay home and be safe. Rajput is also concerned about his teenage daughter Pia, who suffers from PTSD because she was once abducted and terrorized.

Rajput asks a family friend called Vaeeni - who's been living in a slum since her deceased husband was exposed as a corrupt cop - to move into his house to help Tara and Pia, but Vaeeni is too proud to accept the offer.

The murder investigation is difficult and complex, and the lives of some police officers and civilians are put in serious jeopardy.

The book contains an interesting array of ancillary characters, including police informers; kinnar (biological men who identify as women) that bless weddings and births; a physiotherapist who's helping Tara regain mobility; a doctor who's monitoring Tara's pregnancy; a controversial political leader; and more.

The novel has a list of characters at the front, and at the back, a glossary of terms, and notes about The Blue Monsoon. The glossary is useful for understanding Indian words and phrases, such as chawl - a large tenement house; hafta - protection money paid to corrupt police; and laddoo - a nutritious snack for pregnant women. The notes, in turn, provide short primers about the Indian caste system, tantric practices, and kinnar or hijra (eunuchs and transgendered or intersex individuals), all of which are important to the story. I would encourage readers to peruse all these sections.

Mumbai during monsoon season provides a fine backdrop to this well-written thriller. I look forward to more books in the 'Blue Mumbai Thriller' series.

Thanks to Netgalley, Damyanti Biswas, and Thomas & Mercer for a copy of the book.

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I adored The Blue Bar and this sequel did not disappoint! The Mumbai setting, just as vividly written as in the first book, is now drenched in nonstop rain, relentless and problematic - I live in Ireland so I'm not unused to rain, but the deluge that provides the backdrop to The Blue Monsoon took rain to a whole new level!

It took me a few chapters to settle in, as there are a lot of characters to get to grips with, and I did wish I'd done a quick reread of The Blue Bar to recap (it's well over a year since I read that and my memory is rubbish!) but I was soon caught up in the story. I love the characters of Arnav and Tara, but as before, the supporting cast is excellent too, and the insight into police corruption is compelling reading. This book also added another cultural 'education' for me, in emphasising (and explaining) the Caste system and its hierarchies. The plot was as gritty and twisty and layered as that of The Blue Bar, and I hope there'll soon be a third to come in the series as I'm totally invested in this world!

(If there is, give me more of that delicious Indian Street food I salivated over in the first, please!)

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Damyanti Biswas does it again, we reunite with Inspector Arnav Singh Rajput hot on the trail of another serial killer, this time leaving bodies outside temples. Biswas manages to write a gritty, dark, crime thrillers but brightens up the themes with Bollywood and celebrities. Personally this makes it so much more interesting having so many facets intertwined together. Plus we learn more about Inspector Arnav and his lovely wife Tara, who is paralyzed. She is struggling with her abilities and facing serious emotional lows, though she has supports, she is struggling with being in a wheelchair and paralyzed. Love the detail, character growth and the grit.

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Solid crime thriller! Sped through this page-turning novel. The author has certainly done her research and is intimately acquainted with Mumbai, a city with its own character and power dynamics. Recommend this book to those who love crime thrillers and police procedurals.

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A gritty, rewarding read just like its prequel

Tara and Arnav are happy to be together but they are still reeling from the events of the previous book. Life is finally coming back to normalcy and they have a reason to be optimistic for the future. But it takes on a threatening hue when Arnav finds himself dealing with a mutilated body in a temple. It carries overtones of casteism, hitting it closer to home for Arnav.

A bit of a slow burn, this sequel demands some patience before the story takes off. Biswas takes her time to lay out the plot but once it picks up pace, it turns into a page turning frenzy to race towards the conclusion.

Once again Biswas turns the city into a character. The spirit of Mumbai permeates through the story this time in the form of its characteristic raging monsoon. Add it to an action packed plot and well drawn characters and the reader is in for a nail biting ride of guessing the who and the why.

The Blue Monsoon is not an easy read. It deals with some dark themes, laced with characters facing the challenges of living in a poverty stricken environment and oppressors who inhabit that setting. The Kinnar community finds representation here and it is a testimony to Biswas' skill that it is woven with sensitivity. The characters are all drawn well with a distinct eye even peripheral ones like Kamble.

Like mentioned before, it is a tough read but if like me, you enjoy a thriller with substance, then this is it.

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I had been asked by a friend of the author to read this second book in the series (I have not read the first book)..

The story is interesting from a cultural standpoint. Personally I had a difficult time with the slower pace/ rambling storyline and found my mind wandering more often than not. The ending held my attention as did the author's notes.

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The Blue Monsoon takes readers on an exhilarating journey through the inundated streets of Mumbai. Damyanti Biswas unveils a different facet of this vibrant and opulent city—one that resides in chawls and grapples with divisions of caste, class, and religion. The second book in the Blue Monsoon Series is a continuation of the characters' lives from the initial book. While it can certainly be enjoyed as a standalone, those familiar with the preceding book will find it easier to connect with the storyline.

The shocking story has a rich atmospheric quality. Visualizing the waterlogged streets, dimly lit chawls, and narrow alleys is effortless even for readers unfamiliar with Mumbai.
As in the prequel, the characters are thoughtfully developed. The multiple narratives enrich the story, adding complexity and enhancing its intrigue. The antagonist's point of view, written in italics as in the prior book, was captivating and kept me engrossed.

The Blue Monsoon is a worthwhile read, aficionados of crime and thriller genres will undoubtedly find it enjoyable.
CW – Murders, dismemberment, child pornography, physical, psychological and sexual abuse.

Rating 4.25/5

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This is my first taste of Damyanti Biswas's Indian Blue Mumbai series, an eye opening picture of Mumbai, gritty, dark and bleak with insights into the complexities of the culture, traditions, and policing. Then there is the personal in terms of the marriage of Senior Inspector Arnav Singh Rajput and his wheelchair bound wife, Tara, heavily pregnant, and chafing at the challenges and loss of agency she faces. There is a troubling backstory that the couple have undergone and it includes Arnav only recently forming a relationship with his 15 year old daughter, Pia. Tara has the economic security she has never previously had, but feels ill at ease with it, despite the advantages it brings. Amidst the background of heavy monsoon rains and floods, Arnav and Tara are to be plunged into a harrowing nightmare.

A mafia boss, bhai, Rahsool Mohsin has returned to the city with his girlfriend, Tara's bestfriend Zoya, and a gruesome dismembered and castrated unidentifiable body is discoved at a Kaali temple, with the potential to incite riots. Arnav, a police officer with integrity, is surrounded by a corrupt force, who attempt to sabotage and derail the investigation, leaving him with the lower caste Sub-Inspector Sita Naik, a woman, the only officer he can rely on. To help him in the twistiest of cases, he calls on his khabri, an essential shadowy team of informers drawn from the small town criminals on the fringes of society. Tara, in the meantime, is hellbent on getting involved with a non-profit and visiting the Remy Virgin Hair Factory, despite the dangers to her health and unborn child. With more murders with the same MO, intense media focus, dealing with a powerful social media influencer, problematic caste based issues, and threats to his family, Arnav finds himself pushed to the very edges of his limits.

Readers are likely to find this informative if they are unfamiliar with India and all that it can encompass, including the problems and barriers women and those from the lower castes face, the exploitation, the violence and brutality, and the poverty, with the privileged being blind to this. Sita had to get married to be a police officer, she is so often sidelined, there is no toilet at the station for her, and she is forced to tread carefully around the male officers and their egos to be able to do her job, it is perhaps no surprise that she is attracted to Arnav and envies the choices and lifestyle he has. This is a terrific crime read, but it is not without its flaws, I found the narrative heavy going at times and there was a little too much repetition. Other than this, this is a fascinating and thought provoking novel that I would recommend to readers looking for something different, and would appreciate a disturbing piece of multilayered, crime fiction with its appealing, human protagonists, who feel all too real. Many thanks to the publisher for an ARC.

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Intrigued by the title, the cover, and that it is set in India, I enjoyed learning more about the culture, caste system, religions and practices. I found the first chapter – entirely in italics – somewhat disconcerting in that I couldn’t really grasp why. I have no problem reading italics but I know that many readers give up when there are long tracts.
I haven’t read the first in the series and the many characters introduced and threaded throughout are perhaps daunting – happily there is list at the beginning. The first few chapters were rather slow, after the ritual killing and dismemberment in a temple. The pace picks up and a pretty gritty tale ensues – police corruption, disloyalty, family honour, Indian mafia, more murders, child trafficking and porno films, life for the unclean and impoverished – with the weather as an atmospheric backdrop to the perseverance and diligence of the dedicated Arnav and Sita. I’d stay home!
There are one or two surprises in the denouement, some perhaps too neat, and quickly dispensed. Overall, it is written well, an interesting and engaging thriller.

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Detective Arnav Singh Rajput is facing one of the biggest challenges of his career. And it comes at a time when his personal life is already facing some challenges.

His wife Tara is in a fragile state, recovering from a coma and dealing with a difficult pregnancy. Arnav knows that he has to make her wellbeing a priority, and support her as required.

But that is easier said than done when he is dealing with a violent crime - which may be followed by more of the same - and unseen forces with hidden agendas which could unleash chaos on the city.

A man's mutilated corpse is found at the Kali temple after a grisly ritualistic murder. The monsoon season brings an added dimension of difficulty wrt the preservation of evidence etc. Soon afterwards, a video of the killing is uploaded on a social influencer's feed. What does it all mean?

Part of the answer lies in the well-known but rarely acknowledged manner in which the caste system permeates every aspect of Indian life, both directly and indirectly. But as Arnav Singh Rajput can testify, figuring it all out is anything but straightforward.

This is a gritty story about the darker side of an already dark city. A good follow up to Blue Bar, it brings alive the tensions, textures and contradictions of everyday life in what has affectionately been dubbed the Maximum City. Well worth a read.

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Hi and welcome to my review of The Blue Monsoon!

I had a great time with The Blue Bar last year so I was looking forward to diving into this sequel, heading back to Mumbai and finding out what my favourite Indian police inspector and his family had been up to. For the record, I do think The Blue Monsoon could be read as a standalone, although it probably packs a bigger punch if you’ve read its predecessor.

As I said last year, it was the setting that drew me to this series. If you want to visit India without actually getting on a plane, this is the way to go about it. I felt like I was actually there (although I was glad I wasn’t: I don’t like regular rain if I have to go out in it so I probably wouldn’t fare well in a monsoon 😅) I fully expected to be immersed in the setting, to practically feel the damp and smell the rain, and I wasn’t disappointed. An unexpected treat was the fact that it almost became a bit of a locked room situation since due to the rains and floods, communication was down at a crucial time. The story is inextricably bound to the country it’s set in. Not just the monsoon, but the caste system and its repercussions, the kinnar, … It makes for a lush story that enlightens and enriches its reader, without ever sounding pedantic.

The Blue Monsoon includes a character list, and I and my brain fog did have to refer to it a couple of times. So yes, I did get turned around every once in a while, especially at first, and it did require my full attention, but then I got settled in and reading became effortless.

The Blue Monsoon is an intricately woven police procedural and it’s only at the end, when it all comes together, that I realised just how meticulously plotted it is and just how big a punch it packs. It’s not just about the cases either, emotion is never far off. The Blue Monsoon is a tale of revenge and betrayal. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer, but how can you tell who is friend and who is foe?

I had a great time with The Blue Monsoon, and if you’re in the market for a police procedural off the beaten track then you should definitely check this one out.

The Blue Monsoon is out on 24 October in digital formats, audio and paperback.

Many thanks to the author for sending me a widget, to Thomas & Mercer and to NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

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