Lead Review (Hot Stage)

  • Book: Hot Stage
  • Location: Bangalore (Bengaluru)
  • Author: Anita Nair

Review Author: tripfiction



This novel is set in 2012 and really resonates today, particularly with its backdrop of growing Hindu nationalism. The novel is populated with a variety of colourful characters and wonderfully evokes the setting. The Sunday Times (16 June 2024) states the author “almost has a Dickensian ability to handle a huge cast of characters”. This is the third novel in the Inspector Gowda series, who is now Assistant Commissioner of police. His elevation is a double-edged sword because there is an expectation that he will toe the line (in his own words, a sop to shut him up). He has a bit of a complicated domestic life but which police officer in crime fiction doesn’t?

As the novel opens, we meet Professor Mudgood, a curmudgeonly older man, an outspoken critic of right-wing forces and certain aspects of the political establishment, who is soon found dead. Is this a politically motivated crime?

Gowda’s investigations lead him into a shadowy netherworld that is evocatively brought to life. The narrative feels very particular about life and setting and I can only imagine that the author captures the feel of Bengalaru very well.

There is, as detailed early on in this review, a wealth of characters to absorb but the number is manageable.

The novel can be read as a standalone. The previous novels in the series are A Cut-Like Wound and Chain of Custody

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