Putting Inspector Gowda at par with world’s best fictional detectives, Chain of Custody by Anita Nair is a book which is heart pacing and full of dark stories from the underbelly of Bengaluru. Among top companies and tower-like structures, a gutter of crime flows under the city. And Inspector Gowda is the one who now has to solve a case so tricky that he and his team can’t ever see the finishing line.
Chain of Custody is set in Neelgubbi, a rural district of Bengaluru which is now being developed into a city. Along with development, the people can see crime go up day by day, slowly engulfing the town and filling the FIR register of the station. Inspector Borei Gowda is living away from his family in Neelgubbi with his college sweetheart Urmila, an extramarital affair that Gowda tries best to hide from his colleagues and friends, something that keeps him sane.
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The Chain of Custody opens to Inspector Gowda investigating the murder of Dr. Rathore, a lawyer by profession who is found brutally murdered near his apartment compound. Parallel to this, nine days before Gowda got to know that his maid’s daughter, Nandini never returned home from school. Gowda and his team are working and running against time to find the Nandini, but will they be able to??
On the other end of Chain of Custody is Moina, a girl kidnapped from Bangladesh and forced to submit to multiple “customers”, to Krishna, who has no qualms about exploiting children (he is, after all, just doing what had been done to him as a boy). And a girl Rekha, who is being persuaded by her boyfriend to perform some services for him.
With Gowda’s personal life on the verge of collapsing, his Deputy Santosh back and in love with a lady constable, and the gang of constables Gajendra and Byrappa who are witty and wise when time requires being, Gowda now has to manage a lot. Because this is not just a simple disappearance of Nandini, this is a web of lies and Bengaluru’s underbelly, waters which Gowda and his team have never tested before. A Chain of missing Nandini, murdered Rathore, Moina, and Krishna, will Gowda be able to intercept this chain before it gets too late?
Chain of Custody is a crime fiction that will leave you shocked and in awe of the protagonist, Borei Gowda. A man who is constantly juggling his professional goals and personal life, but doesn’t let it come between his hunting of criminals. The center line of the book, child trafficking is something that is not easy on the eyes or on the mind. But if you are reading it in Anita Nair’s words, you understand the situation well and approach it practically.
Now, If I speak about Inspector Gowda, I am in sheer love with him after reading Chain of Custody. An Inspector of grit and wit, sidelined by bosses and politicians for being too intrusive and asking about things that one should not ask. He is not a hero, he is one out of thousand policemen who try to be as true as they can towards their duty. Gowda deals with red tape, barks orders, massage the ego of bosses and politicians and deal with bad office space to get things moving in the city. He is not a typical Police Inspector, he is one of the few who fight for what is right. And that’s deeply refreshing to see in Chain of Custody.
Another brilliant thing about Chain of Custody is that Nair doesn’t shy away from writing the truth. She doesn’t show you rainbows and ponies, she shows you children being pushed into the sex trade and recounting their horrific stories. Children who are working in shops and roadsides, who feel that one can of coke/Pepsi can make their world a happy place, even if for just a few minutes. She makes the reader aware that even after being rescued, these children might never have a normal life again. And some of them may even grow up to inflict the same pain that they felt.
All in all, Chain of Custody is a book that you will thoroughly enjoy while cringing at some places. A book that shows you a different side of Bengaluru, something that is not discussed openly. An absolutely terrific read, something that you should not miss.