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Sunday, Dec 05, 2021
Outlook.com
Book Review

Jai And His Band Of Sleuths

A sharply-styled debut pursues a mystery in a smoggy slum, carried along on small feet

Jai And His Band Of Sleuths
Jai And His Band Of Sleuths
outlookindia.com
2020-03-06T11:44:30+05:30

The influences seep up as you read—Slumdog Millionaire of course, with its toilet lines, Kalpana Swaminathan’s chilling Greenlight and the real-life Moninder Singh Pandher’s murder house. Deepa Anappara’s Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line opens in the familiar territory of a basti. There, the mothers work in upper-class houses while the fathers scrape together a living. The story opens in the house of Jai and his Runu Di in a city which one puts down as Delhi because of the smog. They have a television on which Jai gets to hear exciting news like the disappearance of the police commissioner’s cat. He goes to a government school with his friend Pari and Faiz but his mind is on anything but studies.

Then, children start to vanish in ones and twos, starting with a boy called Bahadur. It is a fact that murders and disappearances occur in Indian slums where there are eyes in every corner and where gangs proliferate. Jai fancies himself as a detective and he organises his two friends in an attempt to find Bahadur when the police are UNI­­nterested. He removes money from his mother’s Parachute coc­­onut oil tin for a ride on the Purple Line metro to gather inf­ormation and finds himself a Sunday job at a teastall to repay it.

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