We’re delighted to be sharing Elena’s thoughts on A Cut-Like Wound by Anita Nair on the Random Things tour.
Borei Gowda is a police inspector in Bangalore. He’s middle-aged, unfit, his career has stalled and his marriage is falling apart. Disillusioned and resigned to his lot in life, his world is shaken up by the brutal murders of a series of male prostitutes. The only clues he has is that a pearl earring was left at the scene of one of the murders and that the victims are all killed in the same gruesome way.
At the same time, Borei gets back in touch with an old flame who is visiting Bangalore for a few months and, as his wife works as a doctor and has moved away with his son who is studying for a medical degree, he battles with temptation and the lure of adultery. His son visits from medical school for a few days and it’s clear that he would like to be a better father. His life is a mess, his character complex.
Santosh is tasked with being his partner in the case. Inexperienced and willing to learn from the great Gowda, he tries to help him solve the mystery of the murders, despite being incredibly difficult to work for.
Meanwhile there is a young man who habitually dresses as a woman. Beautiful and mysterious she becomes Bhuvana – luring men to their death.
This story was spellbinding. The descriptions of India are rich and evocative and I could smell the perfume and spices and see all the glorious colours within the fabric of life in Bangalore.
Bhuvana is such an interesting character in that we are given clues as to her real identity from the start and I was desperate for Borei to discover who she is. The descriptions of the city’s many transvestites and sadness of the prejudice they have to endure touched me and was a stark contrast to Bhuvana’s brutality.
Borei is a lovable car-crash of a character, whose human characteristics are endearing. I disagreed with some of his questionable choices but as the story built up and the walls closed in on Bhuvana his brilliance in solving crimes shone through all of that. I loved Santosh’s role as his comedy sidekick.
A Cut-Like Wound is a slick, addictive and brilliantly written crime novel that draws you in tightly and doesn’t let you go until the very last page. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the series.
Anita Nair lives in Bangalore and is a prize winning, internationally acclaimed author, playwright, essayist, lecturer and literary personality. Her novel Ladies Coupe, first published ten years ago, is a feminist classic published in thirty languages all over the world. The Daily Telegraph called it ‘one of the most important feminist novels to come out of India’. The movie adaptation of her previous book, Lessons in Forgetting, has just won the Indian national award for the best feature film in English language. The Lilac House, another novel was critically acclaimed. Twitter : @anitanairauthor