In a city in the throes of a bloody war, Superintendent Farooq Reshi sets out on a dangerous mission when Inspector Zahir of the Special Operations Group goes missing. Read an excerpt from this explosive thriller set in Srinagar, available now on the Juggernaut app:

PARADISE Villa, its loving but unimaginative owners had named the house when they built it, three floors of oak and glass set off a glade in the Bagh-e-Nishat, looking over the Dal Lake. It had burned well, turning to charcoal long before Superintendent of Police Farooq Reshi arrived. The Border Security Force had ringed it off before dawn, when they’d been called in by the Special Operations Group. For a few desultory hours, the men inside had exchanged fire. Then, the formalities over, the BSF had called in its secret weapon, a fire truck modified to spew petrol.

The body of the man who’d run out screaming God’s name as he burned lay a few metres from the steps leading up to the villa, his assault rifle still by his side. His was the only body that could be recognized as human: charred, the back of the head blown off by a bullet that had entered where the left eye had been, but human, nonetheless.

Farooq climbed up what remained of the stairs gingerly, taking care to protect his shoes from the great heaving sludge of ash and water that had formed when the fire service arrived and killed the flames. He would have to walk over the great carpeted corridor leading to the director general’s office later today; it would do no good at all to plant on it evidence of the messiness of war.

The second body looked like an amateur chef’s first attempt at steak, charred in parts, but cooked perfect pink elsewhere. The man it had once been had hidden himself in the second-floor bathroom, firing out as the flames built up, soaking himself in cold water in a desperate effort to make it last as long as possible.

Farooq’s wireless set came to life, calling out to ‘Whiskey 1’ to ask what was going on. His call sign had been thought up by some smart cunt at the police control room, in homage to the superintendent of police’s epic drunks.

Inspector Zahir should have been here to take the call, Farooq noted, irritated. His lieutenant should have tramped up this staircase half a dozen times by now, beating a trail through the filth for his master to follow. His cellphone had been turned off all morning. Even the constables didn’t seem to have a clue where the inspector was.


Read The Garden of Iblis by Praveen Swami exclusively on the Juggernaut app.



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