LIES. AMBITION. FAMILY.
It’s a dark, smog-choked new Delhi winter. Indian American single mother Anjali Morgan juggles her job as a psychiatrist with caring for her autistic teenage son. She is in a long-standing affair with ambitious police commissioner Jatin Bhatt – an irresistible attraction that could destroy both their lives.
Jatin’s home life is falling apart: his handsome and charming son is not all he appears to be, and his wife has too much on her plate to pay attention to either husband or son. But Jatin refuses to listen to anyone, not even the sister to whom he is deeply attached.
Across the city, there is a crime spree: slum women found stuffed in trash bags, faces, and bodies disfigured by acid. And as events spiral out of control Anjali is horrifyingly at the center of it all …
In a sordid world of poverty, misogyny, and political corruption, Jatin must make some hard choices. But what he unearths is only the tip of the iceberg. Together with Anjali he must confront old wounds and uncover long-held secrets before it is too late.
A little about Damyanti first:
Damyanti Biswas lives in Singapore and works with Delhi’s underprivileged children as part of Project Why, a charity that promotes education and social enhancement in underprivileged communities. Her short stories have been published in magazines in the US, UK, and Asia, and she helps edit the Forge Literary Magazine. Her debut crime novel You Beneath Your Skin has been optioned for the screen by Endemol Shine.
Elkin Hardcoves’ Review: 4.7-Stars
One of the greatest pleasures of being a reviewer with this group is that it allows me to obtain, via the medium of reading, not only a greater opportunity to meet authors I might not have otherwise have encountered, but also enriches my understanding of cultures as well. While I had some knowledge of India from reading other books, and some understanding of its culture, this work broadened that understanding considerably.
The book has a number of particularly good descriptive passages of life in India, particularly in Delhi. I’m impressed by the amount of research that Damyanti Biswas must have engaged in, in order to bring us into the upper echelons of the police force, into the medical world, as well as taking us to the slums and to the comfortable homes of the well-off. There are numerous Hindi phrases sprinkled through the narrative, but I found this to be a good feature, even though there were a few times I had difficulty understanding them. Things are taking place in India, after all, and these phrases enhance that setting and contribute to the overall milieu the author is trying to capture. In any case, they are most of the time gently blended with an English clarification. Thus, while the reader might have some difficulty always being sure whom is whom, since different honorifics are sometimes employed, with a little patients one can quickly comprehend who is speaking and who is being spoken to, barring of course, one isn’t from India, and not intimately aware of language and customs.
Having said all that, I enjoyed the character development and the easy flow of the narrative, especially the completely natural dialogue, which is always a “make or break” ingredient for me as a reader. The intricacies of the plot are nicely handled and well stitched together.
The story’s underlying message is about violence against women, which sadly is universal to the human condition. Given this, there are times when the work might be a little difficult to read, but is no less educational, as it presents a rather candid look at the occurrence. I’m glad that I had the opportunity to read this book, as it provides a useful exemplar of the occurrence here-to-fore mentioned, and as a tool for discussing it among friends and acquaintances, which is one of the finest elements of literature.
Sherry Terry’s Review: 4.9-Stars
Most reviews for a book are more or less a re-telling of the story. I don’t like to do that. I like to speak on how the book reads.
The biggest reason I wanted to review You Beneath Your Skin is that the book is written by an author from India, about people who live there, and today’s culture. I was impressed with the back cover blurb and the “look inside” option on Amazon which meant I had to read this book.
What a wonderful look Damyanti has given me into the lives, politics, societal classing, and law-enforcement of a place I feel I do not know much about. The writing flowed well with lots of great description to put me into the story of a single woman and her autistic son. I feel I was given a unique look into New Delhi and India that I will not get anywhere else.
You Beneath Your Skin by Damyanti Biswas keeps on giving from the first word until the last. The beginning is a slow burn and takes a little while to get started, but once the acid murders start in the slums, the book takes off and I couldn’t put it down. There is a wee bit of violence against women, but I thought while graphic, it is done well and advances the plot of the story.
I feel the author did a splendid job of showing who the characters are and the lives they live. The characters take you on a wild ride of discovery and looking deep within themselves. Overall, this is a must-read if you like books in general, and for sure if you enjoy crime thrillers and want to learn more about the people of India.
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