The Blue Bar

by Chandra Sundeep
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The Blue Bar by Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas’s The Blue Bar is a well-researched and brilliantly written crime thriller set in the city that never sleeps, yes, Mumbai. It is fast-paced, filled with exciting twists and turns, and highly engaging.

The narration starts in 2002, at a busy railway station in Bandra. Tara, a struggling bar dancer, receives a huge payout for performing an odd act. As per the client’s instructions – she has to wear a blue sequined saree, wait at the crowded station, and disappear in less than three minutes. She fulfills her client’s whimsical fantasy, only to be never seen again!

The actual story starts in the present time when a series of murders have rocked the beautiful city. A serial killer is on the prowl. Dead bodies are discovered in various places, sending the Mumbai police into overdrive to solve the case. At the helm of investigations is Inspector Arnav Singh Rajput, Tara’s lover. As the investigations proceed, Arnav gets deeply entangled in the case.

Biswas takes us on a rollercoaster ride as we come to terms with Tara’s disappearance, witness the dangerous underworld from close quarters, visit the glitzy bars filled with glamorous bar dancers, take a sneak peek into Bollywood, and shudder as serial killings and unexpected twists are revealed.

The varied narration (four different narrators) helped me understand the perspectives of all the involved characters. The pacing is excellent and there was not a single moment when I wasn’t glued to the device. Biswas builds and maintains the suspense perfectly. The story is highly visual; right from the mangrove swamps, bars, streets, murders, police procedures, and corruption, to the romance between the leading pair.

There are various supporting characters in this thrilling saga, and they all play their role to perfection.

The ending, however, felt a tad bit rushed. I would have loved to see the direction Arnav, Tara, and Pia’s life takes.

Biswas deals with love, loss, betrayal, crime, death, abuse, and despair with equal ease. That’s definitely commendable! Also, the murder scenes aren’t too graphic in portrayal.

What I really loved about the story is the Indian setting and its raw, honest portrayal. The story is highly Indian in appeal. Indian culture, festivals, customs, and even food are intricately woven into the narration. Despite being almost 3000 miles away from Mumbai, I felt as if I had been physically transported there. My zero knowledge of the city’s topography did not deter me from exploring it. In fact, the author brought the city alive with her authentic, descriptive writing.

Though I have mixed feelings about the translation of lyrics, spelling and factual errors like Malayali music (yeah, that’s not a thing. People from Kerala are called Malayalis, and the music is definitely known as Malayalam) I understand it benefits a wider reader base.

The Blue Bar is a gripping thriller and an immersive read. Excellent pacing, strong plot, and enhanced delivery make it an unforgettable and unputdownable read.

Thanks to Thomas & Mercer via NetGalley for the opportunity to read an ARC of this novel. All opinions expressed are my own.

Wordsopedia Rating 4.4

 

Title: The Blue Bar Author: Damyanti Biswas
Publisher: Thomas and Mercer Publication date: 1st January 2023
Genre: Fiction—Crime Thriller Format: eBook
ASIN‏ : ‎ B09NKMQ9RK No. of Pages: 396

Buy your copy here on Amazon

About the author

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is coeditor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Damyanti is also a supporter of Project WHY, a program that provides quality education to underprivileged children in New Delhi. Apart from being a novelist, Damyanti is an avid reader of true crime, a blogger, and an animal lover. Her ambition has always been to live in a home with more books than any other item, and she continues to work toward that.

Get in touch with the author on her website.

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