Welcome to the Sunday Book Review. I recently interviewed Damyanti Biswas in my Q and A Author Interview Series and today I’m delighted to share my review of this intense crime thriller inspired by the criminal atrocities and corruption happening to women in New Delhi. You Beneath Your Skin is a powerful and emotionally gripping read.
About the Author
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.
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 centre 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 gripping tale of murder, corruption and power and their terrifying effects in New Delhi. Highly recommended.’
– Alice Clark-Platts, bestselling author of THE FLOWER GIRLS
‘Suspenseful and sensitive, with characters negotiating serious issues of society, this crime novel will keep you awake at night!’
– Jo Furniss, bestselling author of ALL THE LITTLE CHILDREN and THE TRAILING SPOUSE
‘Gripping…crime fiction with a difference. This is a novel full of layers and depth, focusing on class and corruption in India with compassion and complexity.’
– Sanjida Kay, Author of psychological thrillers, BONE BY BONE, THE STOLEN CHILD
‘Beautiful writing, strong characters and a story that will stay with me for a long time. Set in New Delhi, this novel tackles important issues as well as providing a tension-filled read.’
– Jacqueline Ward, Bestselling author of PERFECT TEN
An intelligent page-turner that mixes a thrilling murder case with a profound psychological and sociological study of contemporary India. As I turned the pages, my pleasure was exceeded only by my desire for more. Seldom has a novel, let alone a debut novel, so expertly captured both the sprawling details of its complex setting and the intimate emotional turns of its characters’ inner lives with such precision, depth, and insight.
On the one hand a thrilling examination of politics colliding with police work in the lurid underworld of South Asian sex trafficking; on another an intriguing exploration of present-day New Delhi in all its teeming, multicultural complexity; and on still another an intimate examination of its characters’ struggles for connection, safety, and meaning, this impressive first novel signals the emergence of a major new talent.
—David Corbett, award-winning author of THE ART OF CHARACTER
My 5 Star Review:
Harrowing, yet, addictive!
I’ll preface this review by saying that the title is more than appropriate, and a pun so to speak, as the characters unfold and reveal who they really are and of course, the faces of the victims burnt by acid – You Beneath Your Skin.
This book has a host of characters involved in this gripping, hard-hitting crime story complete with street crime, organized crime, corruption at the highest level of police, and of course, the central characters: Anjali, an American/Indian, divorced psychiatrist living in New Delhi with her good friend Maya (who happens to be the sister of the police commissioner Jatin Bhatt – who also happens to be Anjali’s long-time lover and the son-in-law of Mehra, the chief of police who Jatin aspires to take over for one day) and Anjali’s autistic and troublesome young son Nikkil.
The nucleus of the story involves Anjali who becomes centrally involved in a huge case of corruption and murders against impoverished women where the heinous act of throwing acid in their faces, disfiguring them and many murdered left for trash in bags becomes the central investigation. With Jatin at the helm of this investigation, we are brought into the world of criminal acts and Jatin’s heroic decision to take on a huge case to strengthen his resume and in doing so uncovers the perpetrators, and is forced to make one of the biggest decisions of his life when he discovers who the perps of this crime were.
The storyline takes us into a multitude of sins with crime, corruption, filthy politics, secrets and affairs. While the crimes and investigations are taking place we are laser focused on Anjali and her life, the past she ran away from and her own fight for survival and the coming out of her secret affair with Jatin. This book is a deep exploration of the human condition taking place in a male dominated society, capturing a whirlwind of emotions. Highly recommended read!
24 thoughts on “Sunday Book Review – You Beneath Your Skin by Damyanti Biswas”
A superb review for this book, Debby.
Thanks so much Robbie 🙂
Ooh, this one sounds interesting! Thanks for another recommendation, Debby. x
Pleasure Stevie. 🙂 x
I’m hooked – in fact I’ve just popped throught the ether to download ‘You Beneath Your Skin’ to my Kindle. New Delhi is on my mind as it has been in the news this week with the dangerous pollution levels. I haven’t actually been to India, so my knowledge comes from Indians I’ve known and worked with and people who have visited. As with any city, tourists, unless they get lost, can’t see all the layers of any city and India’s cities are bigger, livelier and more complex than most.
Hi Janet. Yes, I was reading about that air pollution this week too. It seems every country has their issues, Damyanti has done wonderful job with this book tuning us into some of the culture and goings on in the city. I’m sure you will enjoy! 🙂
wonderful review; sounds like a book worth reading!
Thanks Jim. A captivating read. 🙂
Wonderful review Debby and congratulations Damyanti,,, sounds like a compelling read. ♥
Thanks so much Sally. It really was! Really! 🙂 ❤
Great review, Deb. Thanks for sharing. I have heard of this book and it sounds intriguing. I believe sales proceeds also go toward victim support.
Yes, I didn’t mention it here, but it was mentioned in my interview last week with Damyanti here. 🙂
Like the review, but not sure my intestinal fortitude is up to the emotional strings the book would pull.
Emotional strings for sure – thankfully, not a gory book 🙂
What a good review of a book that seems hard-hitting, intense, and a must-read. Do you know the author, Debby? As others say here, New Delhi has been in the news regarding their pollution. Sounds like there’s a lot of other kinds of political and social “pollution” in the area, also.
Hi Pam, yes, I know Damyanti as a writing friend and I interviewed her and her book here last week. 🙂 It seems every country has their share of woes these days. 🙂 x
Thanks for the recommendation, Debby. It sounds like a must read, and one, unfortunately, based on a hard reality. I’ll check it out.
My pleasure to pass one on to you Olga! I will look out for your review of this book too! ❤
Thanks for the review, Debby! I’ve been seeing and reading a lot about Damyanti and her new book throughout the web. It sounds fascinating and shocking at the same time and she sure seems to have packed a lot into the narrative – with layered characters, a gripping setting, and the dark and dangerous premise of the story. I saved her sample chapter from your interview last week to read whenever I have an extra moment. 🙂
I have been to India and New Delhi – it was my first trip outside Europe when I was 20 or so – and can imagine the complications the characters deal with and the surroundings the story happens in…
So glad to enlighten you Liesbet. Yes, it’s a deep book that will keep your turning the pages. 🙂
What a terrific review for Damyanti’s book, Debby! Congratulations to Damyanti.
Thanks so much Michelle. I hope it tempted you. ❤
A superb read … I’m late – but please everyone buy this book to support the charities – but give yourself an incredible read at the same time … Debby you have it: Harrowing, yet Addictive …. so so true. Congratulations Damyanti – cheers to one and all – Hilary
Thanks so much Hilary. You’re not late. The post is evergreen and thanks for adding to the conversation. It was quite a powerful read for sure. ❤