Birds of Prey - Archana Sarat
“A person who does not protect a child doesn’t deserve to live.”
The cover speaks volumes... a fluffy white bird that sits on a fragile branch, unaware of the sharp black talons that hover over it, the threat clearly perceptible against a blood-red background. You are all set to delve into a tale that is stark and unvarnished, but ‘Birds of Prey’, published by Readomania, is more gritty and raw than your wildest expectations.
At one level, the book is a fast-paced thriller that digs into the underbelly of the city of Mumbai. Ex-ACP Anton Pinto, who is living a life of sedate retirement “fishing, eating, drinking”, is unwillingly dragged into a high-profile case that points to the disappearance of men from wealthy families. He promises his wife that he would only assist in the case, and not involve himself in the actual ground work.
However, even before he knows it, he is in the thick of things, starting his investigation from the prestigious Prism International School, which has forty schools under its banner. Startling facts come to light, as the disappearances continue, and he traces an inexplicable connection between them and a strange, old lady with a limp.
Slowly the facts are dug up as Anton speaks to various people, piecing together a story of child abuse, incest, horrific brutality and immense suffering, a story that wrings the heart and leaves the reader with a deep ache.
Archana Sarat is a superb chronicler. She tells her story simply, but graphically, and that is where the second layer of the story emerges, a layer that horrifies the reader, a story that is played out in many a home under the nose of the authorities. Her characters live and breathe, and remain in the readers’ minds even after they shut the book.
Verdict: A book that, once read, can never be ignored, or forgotten!