Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line

Deepa Anappara. Random House, $27 (352p) ISBN 978-0-593-12919-7
Anappara’s witty, resonant debut tracks a series of child disappearances from an Indian slum through the eyes of a nine-year-old boy. Jai lives with his friends Pari and Faiz in a slum next to a rubbish dump and the crowded Bhoot Bazaar, part of an unnamed city constantly beset by smog. An opening tale of a local benevolent ghost named Mental introduces the children’s shared magical thinking. When Jai and his friends learn that one of their classmates, Bahadur, has been missing for several days, Jai, a fan of police shows, decides that he and his friends will do their own detective work and find Bahadur since the police show little interest in the matter. Jai’s carefree nature lends a lighthearted tone to an increasingly grim tale as more children disappear and his team of sleuths find evidence pointing to a serial killer. His quest is aided by Pari’s voracious reading habits, which make her the better detective, and Faiz’s Muslim faith, which helps them stay on course when his community is blamed for the kidnappings. Interspersed with the trio’s investigation are single chapters devoted to each of the disappeared children. The prose perfectly captures all the characters’ youthful voices, complete with some Hindi and Urdu terms, whose meanings, if not immediately obvious, become clear with repetition. Anappara’s complex and moving tale showcases a strong talent. (Feb.)
Reviewed on : 11/20/2019
Release date: 02/04/2020
Genre: Fiction
Hardcover - 352 pages - 978-0-7710-0170-3
Paperback - 400 pages - 978-0-593-20706-2
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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