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Preface

My name is Kasthuri Kumar and I am twenty-eight years old—or thereabouts anyway. For reasons that many Thirumalas, Tilotammas and Bisheshwaris will understand, I like to be addressed either by my surname or my self-shortened moniker, Katie.

Contrary to what my first name might suggest, my ancestry is north Indian. My parents were both sensible, middle-class bureaucrats, the choice of my name being their one rash act. When they were posted in Kerala, my mother had patronised a local eponymous artist and recklessly promised her that she would name her daughter after her. And she did.

I recently (voluntarily) resigned my commission from the Indian Police Service (IPS) following some (minor) medical problems. After my retirement I came to Bombay with a vague but strong desire to do something creative, exciting even. Not as in adrenaline pumping-dodging-Maoists’-bullets exciting, but something stimulating. And if it involved a bit of fame and glamour, well, so much the better.

In Bombay, I camped out with my best friend, Marie Banerjee, while I figured out what to do with my life. It was Marie who inadvertently got me started on my present career. While I was shacked up with her, one of her uncles had some procedural problems renewing his arms licence. I, having wielded a weapon all my professional life, and having routinely dealt with such issues, was able to help him out.

Which gave Marie the idea that that’s what I could do with my life—and incidentally put my experience in the police to good use—private detecting. Now, that’s not exactly what I had in mind, but it would have to do till I figured out what it was that I actually wanted to do.

Actually, I think I wanted to be a famous doctor, or a scientist. Although it is probably too late for either, I still have fantasies about receiving the Nobel Prize. I’m not sure what the breakthrough discovery is, other than the hazy notion that it might be in the field of astrophysics. Perhaps some advanced work on string theory? What I am pretty sure about, is that I’m wearing a shimmering red gown by Valentino with black Fendi peep toes.

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