You Beneath Your Skin is the first trad.published novel by Damyanti Biswas. Anyone who has been blogging for any length of time has probably come across Damyanti, one of the most generous and ‘pay-it-forward’ people around.
I had the pleasure of being one of her minions in the A to Z Challenge several years ago, and was delighted to volunteer to review her book.
And A to Z fans should note that an announcement about this year’s challenge is imminent.
You Beneath Your Skin
It’s a dark, smog-choked new Delhi winter. Indian American single mother Anjali Morgan juggles her job as a psychiatrist with caring for her autistic teenage son. She is in a long-standing affair with ambitious police commissioner Jatin Bhatt – an irresistible attraction that could destroy both their lives.
Jatin’s home life is falling apart: his handsome and charming son is not all he appears to be, and his wife has too much on her plate to pay attention to either husband or son. But Jatin refuses to listen to anyone, not even the sister to whom he is deeply attached.
Across the city there is a crime spree: slum women found stuffed in trash bags, faces and bodies disfigured by acid. And as events spiral out of control Anjali is horrifyingly at the centre of it all …
In a sordid world of poverty, misogyny, and political corruption, Jatin must make some hard choices. But what he unearths is only the tip of the iceberg. Together with Anjali he must confront old wounds and uncover long-held secrets before it is too late. [goodreads]
Damyanti Biswas writes incredible short fiction on her blog. This is her first major venture into a novel, and boy, what a novel. Set in a large city in India, the characters leap from the page, and most of them scare me silly. Some of this is for their health, safety or other form of welfare, others simply scare me for my own welfare.
The storyline twists around an investigation into what appears to be serial murders of faceless women. That’s literally faceless; their features have been obliterated with sulphuric acid. The one found in the jurisdiction of Jatin is traced to a local slum. Those of you who have read about life in such slums can imagine the filth and the poverty all too well. If not, see my review of Behind the Beautiful Forevers.
You Beneath Your Skin has an incredibly twisted plot that covers many levels of Indian society and the problems each character has in staying one step ahead of their own ruin. The writing is rich and powerful even when talking about the poor and powerless.