Sunday, December 6, 2015

TMCRA - Work in Progress

It's December and I hope to leave 2015 with a bang. I'm back to work on my romantic suspense based in Mumbai's sex trade. While the setting and topic for the novel is heavy and heartbreaking, my research into police procedurals and Mumbai's legal system is fascinating. Eye-opening. It's amazing that from seeming chaos there is eventual order.

Here's a snippet from TMCRA. I'm quite fond of the title of the book already, though I suspect I'll need to change it. Anyway, that's a poll for another day. 

Shankara tore after them. She wanted to call PJ and report the kidnapping. Okay, maybe kidnapping was taking it a bit too far considering the kidnapee had gotten into the car of her own volition. But something didn’t seem kosher, and Shankara’s gut was doing summersaults.

She scooter-stalked the Land Rover. Luckily, it wasn’t going fast because of the traffic, and she managed to keep it in sight from a couple of cars back and to the left. One-handed, she fished her phone out of her pocket and speed-dialed PJ. The inspector’s phone was engaged. Cha! What a nuisance. She speed-dialed Sarika next, her near, dear and longstanding colleague. Rather, she tried to. Sarika’s phone kept ringing, nonstop, like it was on call waiting or being intentionally ignored. Typical. Sarika had a new man in her life, and spent every waking minute either flirting with him on the phone or screwing him for real.

Frustrated, Shankara dropped the phone into the slot between the handlebars. She’d text Sarika later. Hopefully, a text might get through her colleague’s romantic haze to the emergency at hand. The SUV passed Mumbai Central Station, heading north toward Saat Rasta. The road had opened up, the traffic moving faster now. Shankara grabbed the handles of the scooter with both hands and revved up, fearing she’d lose them. She passed the lane that led to her home, barely sparing it a glance.

Where the hell were they headed? To a hotel? Maybe a private flat the man used for his assignations? An empty office, perhaps, she guessed wildly, as they drove into Lower Parel. Blocks of residential and office complexes, a five-star hotel and two shopping malls flew by on the left, while rundown shops and closed-down mills lined the right. Half the buildings were new and competing for the “architectural marvel” prize, the other half old, dark and unhappy-looking. Then, just as she prepared to take the flyover, the Land Rover switched lanes and turned onto a dingy side street. Shankara paused at its mouth for a few seconds before following. No other cars buffered her from the Land Rover now. If the man looked into the rearview mirror, he would spot her. The streetlights were dim, but they were there. She rolled forward cautiously, staying on the shadowy side. The lane was narrow, walled on both sides and stinking to high heaven. Beyond the walls on the right, rose the aluminum and tar roofs of a slum. A dense border of trees jutted out above the wall on her left. All along that wall were signs that cited the area was private property and trespassers would be prosecuted.

About halfway down the lane, the Land Rover stopped, a gate opened, and it drove through. The gate closed behind it. 

“Now what?” Shankara murmured, peering through the iron bars of the gate, careful to use the wall as a shield in case of security guards or CCTV cameras. It was an old mill complex. A few rundown buildings sprouted out of the overgrown vegetation. Though there was a clear road leading through the center of the property, lined with trees on either side. She switched on the map app on her phone, a dot blinked on and she googled the address. 

~ Excerpt TMCRA © Falguni Kothari

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