Title: The Lost Woman of Santacruz
Author: Vijay Medtia
Publisher: Leadstart publishing
Genre: Crime Fiction, Mystery Thriller
First Publication: 2021
Book Summary: The Lost Woman of Santacruz by Vijay Medtia
Mid-July, Inspector Ajay Shaktawat is called to a house. A retired Deputy Commissioner of Police has been beaten to death. A young man is barely alive besides him. Both are the victims of shocking cruelty.
The intense investigation leads to a woman missing from Santacruz, Mumbai. At the same time, a crazed cop killer terrorises Mumbai. No one understands the connection or motive. Inspector Shaktawat must battle against time and the increasing body count of retired officers if he’s to succeed. Now with time running short, a tough Special Branch officer from Delhi monitors his activities.
Meanwhile, Shaktawat’s life is in shambles: his wife has left him four
months ago along with his two teenage children. He’s struggling to win her back. His mother, a robust seventy year-old, barely tolerates him. Loneliness has cut into his life. He works tirelessly, has gained weight and drinks most nights away. Will he be able to get his life back on track?
Will Shaktawat catch the elusive murderer before he strikes again?
Book Review: The Lost Woman of Santacruz by Vijay Medtia
This is first book in the ‘Police Inspector Ajay Shaktawat’ series and it is a winner! The crime that is the basis of this novel involves the brutal murders of retired officers and a missing woman from Santacruz, Mumbai. The story begins with a murder of a retired Deputy Commissioner of Police. The case was handed over to Inspector Ajay Shaktawat who becomes obsess over the case as no clues present meaningful information that helps him to solve the mystery. Time plays a central role in ‘The Lost Woman of Santacruz’ as the body count of retired officers is increasing.
The interest part for me was the police procedure part of the process. We are exposed to the humdrum nature of police work as the inspector Shaktawar waits patiently for any kind of new clue that will spur more action. Author Vijay Medtia managed to build the tension as Ajay Shaktawat is running out of resources and time, comes up with a desperate plan to try and catch his suspect. Inspector Shaktawat operates off of intuition, and so he makes leaps of logic without proof. The book felt very authentic and the writing was crisp and clean.
I liked the realistic depiction of an overworked and stressed police inspector with an unsatisfying home life patiently working his way through an investigation. The reality of long stretches of time, the deliberate treatment of procedural details that, instead of being tedious, give a heightened sense of reality and show the painstaking tenacity of the police at work. Solving the crime takes determination. There are many times in the investigation where the work is not glamourous. Whittling down long lists of suspects, relying on witness reports long after the murder took place, engaging in long-term surveillance with no obvious outcome. Ajay Shaktawat survives these challenges through solidarity and dedication.
The plot is very simple, yet so difficult to solve. The writing style is really good and engaging. First of all there is a ton of dialogue, much of it in the form of interrogation and provides information that help to move the case forward. The backstory, monitoring of the progress by a Special Branch officer, the increasing body count and the family dynamics of Inspector Ajay Shaktawat put the reader in the same emotional state as inspector Shaktawat. This is something that is really great, especially since this crime takes long to solve and requires some great investigative work (remember the plot is set in 90’s with no such things as the internet or digital technology!).
The Lost Woman of Santacruz is an entertaining, fast-paced and captivating murder mystery packed with action. The suspense was maintained throughout the book, and the constant discoveries and twists made the plot interesting. Addictive writing style and mind blowing characterization made this an excellent reading experience. Highly recommended.