A melancholy cop’s obsessions are just the tip of the iceberg as he leads a two-fisted team determined to clean up Mumbai’s mean streets.
The four men who make up the title team originally meet at police headquarters outside Pune, India. Sharpshooting Karan, who narrates much of the novel in grim, hard-boiled prose, leads the squad, which also includes Munna, Tapas, and Kumaran. Any notion Karan might have of serving the greater good is obliterated after a few months as the quartet is turned into contract killers for the police. Several chapters resemble short stories devoted to the assassination of individual crime figures. As the squad settles into its nasty business, Karan’s loyal wife, Nandini, seeing a coarsening in her husband, worries about this new assignment. Pregnancy makes her more guarded but no less worried. Karan’s boss, Ranvir Pratap, the compulsive larger-than-life character who put the squad together, is under constant administrative fire that prompts him to construct a hilarious set of “Criteria” for the hiring of squad members. Karan’s demeanor and his resulting reputation may stem from the fact that he has Asperger’s syndrome, a condition that entitles him (and us) to be treated to a pedantic explanation of the syndrome as well as an amusing 48-question survey. Can this crack team keep from cracking up as they rack up the kills?
Kumar’s (Virgin Gingelly, 2013, etc.) style, blunt but often by turns poetic and droll, is arresting even as his idiosyncratic plot roams far and wide, switching perspectives and pursuing twisty subplots with vigor. As unusual as it is compelling, this entry lays the groundwork for an entertaining series.