BANGALORE: At ten-thirty nothing much had changed, except for the arrival of two more cars and the formation of an unruly crowd around the dead body. Maids, cooks and constables stood at the back while the front of the arc was covered by wives and sons of policemen and the policemen themselves. The Mission Row Police Housing Complex, having established that the dead girl was not one of its residents, was having an exciting time. Bikram Chatterjee, Pradip Nag and Rafat Khan, the three officers who had witnessed the fall, stood some distance away with the officer-in-charge of the Hare Street thana, Jamini Prasad Sengupta, in whose jurisdiction the housing complex lay. Pradip Nag stared morosely at the crowd, Rafat Khan alternated between scratching his head and shaking it. Bikram said nothing. There was a mournful look in his grey eyes as he contemplated what lay ahead. Unnatural death, here in his own apartment block! As the first television van screeched to a halt and a familiar journalist stepped out with a news-hungry look in his eyes, Bikram shuddered and stepped back involuntarily. ‘Look, Jumper, it’s your jurisdiction, you’d better do the briefing for the press. Leave me out of it, at least for now.’ Jamini Prasad Sengupta, ‘Jumper’ to his colleagues, smiled mirthlessly. ‘It will go to Crime Branch for sure. Unknown girl found in police housing, up on the rooftop and then down in the car park, dead due to a fall. Was it murder, suicide or an accident? Who was the mystery girl? What are the games that policemen play? Rich and juicy, just the way the Breaking News likes it. But I’ll spare you this one since you’ve just returned from an early morning raid. You’d better dash up to your flat if you don’t want to be caught!’
Bikram did as he was told and tried running up but it was more a limp than a dash, because he had expended all his energy on the last terrific sprint seconds after the girl fell, bounding up the narrow paan-stained ill-kept stairs to the rooftop. There had been no one on the rooftop. Near the edge of the parapet he had found a pair of slippers, dainty-looking flats, placed neatly by its former wearer if it was suicide, or by the killer, if it was murder. At the thought of the carefully placed slippers before the fatal plunge, Bikram began to feel sick.
He rang his doorbell and waited. His cook was a clever man. When he opened the door five seconds later, it was first in a slit and then pulled open wider after verifying that Bikram was alone. Bikram handed him his cell phone.
‘Charge this. Where is she?’ ‘In your bedroom, sir. She wanted to wait in the office room but I said that wouldn’t be safe . . . ’
In the bedroom the beautiful actress Shona Chowdhury, Bikram’s girlfriend, was standing by the curtained window, looking out. She didn’t turn around when Bikram entered.
Bikram walked over to the window and stood beside her, and for a while the two looked down in silence. They could see a blob, and a crowd around the blob, and reporters with microphones and coils of wire jostling with cameramen.
Bikram reached out and touched her hand. It was ice-cold. Of course, he thought, how silly of me. She’s not used to death.
(Excerpted from The Final Report with permission from Penguin Metro Reads)
ABOUT THE BOOK
When a young girl falls to her death from the Mission Row Police Housing Complex, home to DSP Bikram Chatterjee, Crime Branch goes into a tizzy. Who is she? Is it murder or suicide? And, most importantly, how did she manage to climb up to the roof without being noticed? As DSP Bikram grapples with death in his own backyard, elsewhere in the city, two young criminals explore a new modus operandi, while there is a sudden spurt in wildlife poaching and the theft of antiques. The deeper he investigates, the more questions he is confronted with. Are all these crimes connected? This time DSP Bikram has more on his hands than he can handle because it’s not just the crime—he wants to sort out his personal life as well. The third and final book in the series, The Final Report is an engrossing read.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Monabi Mitra was born in Calcutta. She was educated at Loreto House, Presidency College and Jadavpur University. She teaches English at Scottish Church College, Calcutta. As the wife of an Indian Police Service officer, she has developed a keen interest in police procedures. This has led to the writing of the DSP Bikram series.