Nair achieves a pleasing restraint in the key passages, and nowhere does this show more than in a tense climax, which leaves a few things unsaid and doesn’t try too hard to tie up every loose strand….I also found this book consistently interesting as a commentary on the lives of the sexually marginalised, on the blurring of gender expectations, and the emotional baggage carried by both men and women in a world of role-playing and self-presentation. The inhabitants of the society depicted here – one that includes posh malls as well as seedy underbellies and much in between – are, to varying degrees, struggling with gender roles and perceptions…n his own way, he [Gowda] is nearly as marginalised as some of the more extreme cases he encounters, and if this book leads to a full-fledged series (as the “Introducing Inspector Gowda” on the cover implies it will) much of its pleasure should come from watching this man patrol the mean streets of his city, dealing with his own urban alienation as well as those of his quarries – and perhaps in wondering how thin that line between mild unrest and full-blown psychosis really is.

Sunday Guardian

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