It was only in February that I read Anita Nair’s Alphabet Soup for Lovers, which was quite a memorable one. In her recently released Chain of Custody , the second of her Inspector Gowda novels after Cut Like Wound, she portrays the city of Bengaluru ridden with corruption, violence and child trafficking.
Inspector Gowda is shown to be a maverick in his investigation methods, passion for his Royal Enfield and for the women in his life. Along with his assistants Santhosh and Ratna, he sets out to solve the case of a missing girl Nandita, his maid’s daughter.
A young girl Rekha is coerced into being an escort to a rich man by her boyfriend Sid. She lies to her family and discovers herself to be in danger when this rich doctor is found murdered the next day. She breaks down completely without having a soul to breath her troubles to.
Nandita goes to school and on her way back visits a church. She is kidnapped by child traffickers and brought to a brothel. There are others, both boys and girls, molested and killed by their abusers. She cries for help and there comes an angel in the form of a stranger.
An MLA is found to be a paragon of virtue as he had married his handicapped girlfriend. The two are an ideal couple but she finds out his secret phone conversations and interest in young girls. She decides to take action and searches all his files to find out who he really is.
Connecting these three parallel stories is the city of Bengaluru, where anything is possible according to Inspector Gowda. His case is solved in a gestalt moment when his son brings in a friend Suraj who happens to be Rekha’s brother.
The novel portrays a disgusting world of child trafficking , where children around the age of twelve are nabbed in clear daylight and later finished off after being sexually exploited. Written in a very racy style, the book keeps the reader on edge and is a good read a la the stories of Feluda, our good old Indian Sherlock Holmes.