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From the gorgeous cover to the last page, this book is definitely a gripper. All the necessary elements for a psychological thriller are here: vulnerable, desperate women, an overworked police force with hints of corruption in high places, the glamour of the movie business, at least two crime bosses, and a seriously troubled killer. Add to that the intriguing setting of Mumbai, India. The book does not shy away from the dirt and poverty of the city, in contrast to the luxuries enjoyed by the wealthy. As the bodies of murdered women are uncovered, the reader is given harrowing peeks into the mind of the murderer. Interwoven with these are the personal stories of bar dancer Tara and police inspector Arnav. Action scenes are humanized by elements of guilt, shame, regret, and broken trust. I was keen to find out what happened next and read the book quickly. At times it was a bit of a blur, as the characters raced from one place to another, almost always using cell phones to communicate and gather evidence. The primary characters are well-developed and sympathetic. Enough is revealed about the secondary characters that they are distinct and memorable. I was particularly impressed by journalist (and Arnav's sometime girlfriend) Nandini, and his police colleague Tukaram. A character named Bilal is also intriguing and surprisingly sympathetic, given his relationship to the murderer. Clues are scattered throughout the book, prompting me to formulate theories as I read about the identity of the killer. The ending includes a few shocking revelations and is both heart-wrenching and satisfying.
A huge thank you to the author for reaching out and providing me with an eARC!
The first chapter was enough to captivate me and sweep me away into the muggy swamps and slums and through the crowds and the dark streets of the busiest city in India, Mumbai.
Amongst powerful elite film stars and businessmen, corrupt police officers, dangerous mafia dons, and shady government ministers, detective Arnav Singh Rajput finds himself in the middle of murder mysteries that ties the underworld, police officials, the film industry, and a strip club together. With a serial killer on the loose and cold cases coming to light, Arnav can’t help but let his mind wander to fourteen years ago when he last saw the love of his life, Tara, a young, troubled girl who worked at the strip club. She was last seen at a train station wearing a blue sequinned saree, a piece of material prominent as evidence in the recent murders Arnav is investigating.
I grew up watching Bollywood films of all genres. The Blue Bar felt like a cinematic, action and thriller-packed Indian murder mystery movie, which enhanced my reading experience to a whole new level! The vivid descriptions of criminal investigations and the underworld, the explicit settings, brilliant plotting, and character depth were written so well!
Beyond the writing lies the fleshed-out characters of Arnav and Tara. I loved young Arnav and young Tara even though with the glimpses into the past. The characters of Arnav and Tara, fourteen years later, felt like everything had changed, but their relationship and connection remained the same. I loved how they fit together so perfectly while having individual character development!
The ending felt overly fast-paced and rushed, especially after all the drama faded away, and things with the murder mystery were explained too quickly. The Blue Bar was definitely not the end of it, and despite being super excited for the sequel, I wish the ending was fleshed out and detailed more. It felt like a time jump, and certain things were skipped or ignored.
Nonetheless, I thoroughly enjoyed The Blue Bar, and I absolutely loved the fact it had short chapters! I can’t wait to see what Damyanti Biswas comes up with in the sequel!
This book is an atmospheric and wild ride. I loved the dual perspective and seeing the story from multiple viewpoints, including the serial killer themselves. I loved that it highlighted the corruption in the city, from officers on the police force, celebrities, and political figures. I loved the thread of romance throughout. And most of all I loved the setting in Mumbai. I felt like I was there in the streets, the homes, eating the food. Definitively check this one out! Thank you to the author for an ARC copy.
This book is an in-depth and complex work of art. That's not to say it's a difficult read; it certainly isn't. But there are so many layers of it, all of which I love and have studied - or wished to study - in various 'lives' I've led. It is first and foremost a captivating noir mystery. It is also a provocative love story, between man and woman, between close friends, between mother and daughter. There are parallels and there are paradoxes. There are smoothly woven, subtle comparisons and then eye-blinking contrasts. It has hints of the exotic and then slaps of the downright shocking - the first in worlds some may wish to travel, and the latter in worlds most may never wish to see, but should have to. And Damyanti Biswas makes us. Because we shouldn't go through a life anywhere on this planet sticking our heads in the sand. The ending in particular had such symbolic ironies that I found myself catching my breath. This piece of literature could be studied in any high school or university classroom, anywhere around the globe, in any language. The Blue Bar is entertaining, educational and engrossing. I feel richer and a little more mature for having read it.
This was different from other books that I usually read. It was a mix of romance, thriller, and police procedural, so that definitely kept things interesting. And y’all, I was actually so invested in the romance. Arnav and Tara’s relationship was so much fun to read about. It had a bit of a star-crossed lovers vibe and I loved that!
I would say my favourite part of the story was the POV of the killer (yeah, yeah, there’s something wrong with me). It was just so creepy to read from his perspective and not know who he could be.
I did find that the story was a bit slow at times, and I struggled to keep track of all the characters. But there were also many moments where there was so much happening and I was glued to the pages. I also loved the amount of detail, and the writing was very well done!
I received this book for free as part of an Instagram book tour.
This was a well thought out tale of murder corruption, and mayhem. The characters are well developed, yet I was confused about the actual murderer til the last minute...as was intended. I was ready for the end long before it came. I imagine this is because the thoughts of the killer were a bit too crazy and gruesome. I read through to the finale and was glad to find some peace.
At first it was difficult for me to understand the India slang. Some of the characters have similar names. I guess it would be hard for someone in another country to understand American slang names. I did figure out who the bad guy was and deeper dive you understand why he is so evil. Corruption is in all countries. The book interested me because I was to learn more about other countries.
Blue sequins. fetishes. ar girls with a golden heart. cops with conscience. All clash in a racy thriller. Narrative is tight and fluent. The book flips back and forth between 1st person narratives from differing povs, which is always a tightrope toughie for any author. Damyanti does well. Female protagonist is a well rounded persona as she ages well and matures across the pages. Male cop is a tad too Bollywood stereotype to be fully believable or relatable. That aside, it's a well written, well paced, well plotted crime thriller. Go for it.
What struck me after I read through the entire book was that the author has written a fictional crime drama about serial killings just the way such crimes would unfold in real life. I think the author has done a lot of research about how serial killings occur in real life and how the police force investigates them usually. The narration is racy and fast paced. Both the male and female protagonists as well as the other characters are very real. Another thing is the story is based in Mumbai and the author has a very accurate idea of the layout of the city. The only problem is in certain places the narrative becomes confusing and difficult to follow. The reader has to be alert and make sure not to lose sight of several parallel threads running through the story. Nevertheless it is a very entertaining read and I enjoyed reading the book thoroughly.