For me, a crime fiction is only brilliant if it keeps you on the edge of your chair or gives you a spine-tingling sensation. The Pound of Flesh by Mukul Deva is just that book. Revolving around organ harvesting racket based in Delhi, the book is written with such twists that you won’t be able to stop at just one chapter.
From the very first page you witness the horrors of this racket in Pound Of Flesh, when Santosh Kumar, looking like a driver and waiting for his friend Dr. Amit at the Delhi Airport sees Pamela waiting near Rent-a-car booth. One look at Pamela and he decides that she is his next victim for a honey trap racket that he runs for a well-known businessman and politician, Harpal Singh. Dr. Amit helps him organ harvesting at his farmhouse, a lucrative business that helps in disposing of girls who create trouble.
Pamela, on the other hand, is waiting for her friend Jasmine’s driver, Jagjit Singh. Santosh Kumar aka SK takes one step towards Pamela and she thinks that he’s Jagjit Singh only. It takes only a few minutes for SK to take Pamela and her bags into his Mercedes, along with the Doctor Amit, who he claims lives nearby the place where Pamela is to be dropped.
What happens next is the core of Pound of Flesh, a gruesome kidnapping, and a farm house full of foreign girls. Some of them kidnapped and kept there for organ harvesting or to help SK flourish his honey trap business. But then, every crime fiction has a hero, and Pound of Flesh’s hero is Ravinder Gill. A retired Police officer, Pamela was Ravinder Gill’s guest only. And when he and his daughter Jasmine realize that Pamela is missing, they start searching for her from the very place she was taken.
And from that point onward begins a maze of lies, corrupt police officials, politicians with a dark past and well-known criminals like SK, who are well known to remove people from the face of the earth. A plot so thick and twisted that it makes Pound of Flesh one of the best books in Indian crime fiction.
Every year, about 1 million people are trafficked across borders. Human tracking and illicit organ trading are the fastest growing, most lucrative business in the world. Just the illegal organ trade gets three to four billion dollars of profit annually. The atrocities that you read in Pound of Flesh surprise you even more, that even in the National Capital, organ trafficking is a flourishing trade. Many go missing in the crowd, and police is a weak link that we witness in Pound of Flesh as well. You may try your best to cooperate with them with all facts and figures, but hardly there are any police officers left who genuinely like to help people in such cases.
The Pound of Flesh throws light on such an issue which people are aware of, but do not see openly. Organ harvesting racket is a dark hidden world and their onwers like SK roam around freely amongst us. A striking thing about Mukul Deva’s writing is that he is bold in his approach and is not hesitant sharing the dark sides of this trade in Pound of Flesh. His writing is to the point, maintaining a fine balance of twists to keep the reader engaged. The plotting and placement of events is perfect.
Speaking of story-line, there is hardly anything missing. From the very beginning, it turned out to be spine-tingling crime fiction, that doesn’t let you stop at all. A complete page turner, the twists are such that will keep you on the edge of your reading chair. Even when Ravinder feels that he is close to finding Pamela, something comes up that jilts the Gill family. The climax of Pound of Flesh is something that could’ve been better, but what Deva has written is not half as bad. Also, the book could’ve done with a little less pages. In the end losses are such that you won’t see them coming.
All in all, Pound of Flesh makes up for a brilliant crime fiction read, something that all kind of readers can pick and devour into.