Sunaina Luthra/Harsimran Kaur  ON  Dec 22, 2022, IN BOOK REVIEW, BLACK RIVER By NILANJANA S. ROY-FICTION

Rating: 4/5

Teetarpur isa quintessential village—basking in the glory of its inconspicuousness; astretch of a few hoursfrom the capital city of Delhiensconced around the Aravalli range. The village through the years has maintained its sunny disposition despite life’s vicissitudes, cocooned in the sapphire of its anonymity.

While Teetarpur rejoices in oblivion of its sanctified pleasurable discretions, a disinterring tragedy coils it, a de trop siphoning rage and reprisals.The brutal murder of eight year old Munia insolently presses hard on the incongruity of life; killing in the name of what? How can innocence be corrugated to the contretemps of human proclivities?The answers are ambiguous and so are the villagers embroiled in the insurmountable grief. The village not only loses Munia but the tranquility and beholding of human spirit.

Recriminations are hidden in the potholes of our brains, just need a fire cracker to level it up, bursting to conquer. The murder acts as one protuberating vast media attention, thronging the streets to unfold the despicable noose around the neck. Suspicion and incendiary minds gallop to uncover the bitter monstrosity giving it a communal aspect when an itinerant Muslim in the largely Hindu village is thought to be at the scene of the crime. Justice is no more functional de rigueur but a coup de grace to soil communal fervor.

Case becomes murkier when Sub-Inspector Ombir Singh along with Constable Bhim Singh discovers a body of a whore, Bachni, along the river canal behind Chand’s fields.Chand is the anguished father who runs pillar to post to get justice for her daughter. During investigation Ombir learns from Bachni’s confidant Chunchun that she was involved in child trade. Munia could have been the next slaughter of their despicable ambitions.

Meanwhile, in the rough by lanes of Bright Diary Colony runs a parallel plot. Chand’s old companions Rabia and Badshah Miyan who stood by Chand during his tough times struggle for their identity. Communal hatred engulfed their lives forcing them to leave the place they call ‘Home’.

The story spoofs ahead to find the killer of Munia and Bachni.

Is there a deep connect between surreptitious killing of both?

Is the person who killed Bachni and Munia same?

Was Munia raped before killing?

Will Rabia and Badshah Miyan find a solution to their conundrum?

The book ‘The Black River’ by Nilanjana S. Roy presents the readers a human tale full of compassion and empathy. The multiple events unfolded binds the story like a tight screw nut with unpredictable manoeuvres. The readers will be glued to the book till the time they decipher the real motive behind Munia’s killing.

Take away

‘The Black River’ is a fast-paced thriller. The book projects modern India battling corruption, religious tolerance, child prostitution and prejudice. On the contrary, it highlightsan important relationship – friendship, cultivated through hardships and forged into a strong alliance.

A Captivating crime novel!!!

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