Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Clockwork Killer

The Clockwork Killer
By Dibyajyoti Sarma

During the first half of 1979, there was a serial killer at work in Delhi, not that many realised there was a method behind these random murders. Six people were already dead when a young officer, Prasant Mishra, was given the case, and for the first, he saw a pattern – though the victims were of different age and gender and from different locality, there was one thing in common. They were all killed in the homes, and their bodies were found in their beds, placed in the perfect imitation of the Sleeping Buddha. Finally, the case was solved. They found a doctor who confessed to the murders.

In 2008, now retired, Mishra gets a book deal to write a narrative about the killer. He accepts the deal, digs up old files, and meticulously reconstructs the case, killing by killing. However, he is no writer. So, he asks his daughter, a student of clinical psychology, to give him a second opinion. Dhristi reads the manuscript and announces that her father’s investigation was all wrong. The doctor was not the killer and the killer had a grand plan, which he could not complete. “How did you catch the doctor?” She asks her father. “Someone tipped us,” the father answers. That was it. The person who tipped the police was the real series killer.

It was not so. A despaired Mishra decides not to publish the book. Soon, he receives a visitor from Bombay, Dr Apoorva Bhatnagar, who knows about the manuscript and also the fact that alleged serial killer is still on the loose. He wants Mishra to take up the investigation; he would pay, off course. Mishra says no. However, why the good doctor is so interested in the serial killer? It is because Dr Bhatnagar thinks the serial killer was his friend, who has since gone missing. It was he, Dr Bhatnagar, who had made that anonymous call about a doctor.

Though Mishra is against it, Dhristi takes up the case. But how do you find a man who has methodically erased his existence? What she finds are a series of random clues which will takes her to the gullies and bylanes of Delhi, to a prison in Nashik, to a village in Sambalpur in Odisha, and finally to Twang in Arunachal Pradesh, on the way meeting a host of broken characters, a woman with a past, a mad lover and a Good Samaritan. Will Dhristi find the killer, and what will she do when she finds him? Revenge? Retribution?

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