The Compass Box Killer

Image Courtesy: Internet
Image Courtesy: Internet

This book is a crime thriller, set in the by-lanes of Mumbai. One muggy afternoon, a senior police officer is found murdered at his desk. When Inspector Virkar from the Crime Branch arrives at the scene, he finds a cryptic note that spills out of a tudent’s compass box. Then begins a series of killings and in each, a telltale compass box reveals more clues.

Accompanied by the attractive, ambitious TV reporter, Raashi Hunerwal, Virkar has to race against time to catch the Compass Box Killer before the bodies pile up. As the investigation shuttles from Mumbai to Khandala to Belgaum, Virkar is taken deep into a labyrinth of backroom deals that lead to shocking revelations about the ruthless killer’s motives.

Slick plot twists and high-adrenaline action mark the first of the Inspector Virkar crime Thrillers—part of the Mumbaistan series. Tough, daring and relentless in his pursuit of justice, Inspector Virkar is a policeman one wishes every city had.

Plot Summary

The blurb says it all! Inspector Vikram is assigned to investigate the murder case of a senior police official who is found dead at his desk. What the coroner tries to close as an open and shut case due to food poisoning,  takes on a different turn as Virkar discovers an old and worn out compass box with a clue to the killers next victim. From here on the search for the killer who has been coined “The Compass Box Killer”, is a game of cat and mouse that Virkar has to win (with very little support from the crime branch and exaggerated supported from beautiful TV reporter Raashi) in order to protect the lives of high-profile citizens of Mumbai.

  • Does Virkar succeed?
  • How are the victims connected?
  • Is Raashi everything that she seems to be?
  • What is the motive of the “The Compass Box Killer”?

My thoughts

Personally, I loved reading this book. It has all the elements that could make a great Bollywood masala entertainer which I guess is only normal given the authors background! In fact I could draw comparisons to the Hindi  movie “Baazigar” 🙂 once I finished reading this book which can essentially be termed as a classic tale of revenge with the usual elements of such a saga like:

  • A  crime reeking with sleaze

  • A coverup

  • An affected party who decides its time for payback and

  • An intelligent police officer who tries to discover the truth

I felt that the motive and the identity of the killer was predictable and the details were given away a bit too prematurely. It would have been more fun, if the author had led the readers stew a bit. But I guess, this is agreeable considering that the book was a short read [234 pages]. I loved the way the life and personality of Inspector Virkar has been portrayed; who cannot love a no-nonsense cop, a young and modern one at that, with a passion to go beyond the call of duty? In times like these when we still see cops who look like they have never run on a treadmill leave alone a thief or just seem clueless and disinterested, makes the idea of an inspector like Virkar tick.

I could not get how someone like Virkar, easily falls for a woman like Raashi, when she never comes across as sincere from her very first meeting with the inspector. It is quite obvious to the reader that she comes across as someone who would do anything to get her 30 minutes of fame and is probably hanging around with Virkar only to extract the details of the high-profile murder case.

The “the compass box killer” makes a close to perfect anti-hero to Inspector Virkars act. **Probable Spoiler ALert Begins** What was great about the plot was the fact that at some point in time, both Virkar and  the killer seemed to be bouncing ideas off each other in terms of discovering the identity of the last victim.The emotions that the killer goes through,the reasoning behind his revenge saga and the history of his relationship with his mentor seem pretty flat!**Probable Spoiler ALert Ends** The manner in which the plot ends lets me believe that the compass box killer may make an appearance in other books of the Mumbaistan series.

The book is a page turner for the most part, has an interesting cover with a catch line and an even better blurb. The author has tried to model his characters based on some popular American crime shows like Law and Order, CSI and the like..He also succeeds to a certain extent but then fails to retain the mysteriousness of the characters or the plot which  makes for more gripping drama as far as crime fiction is concerned.

I know I am repeating this but I felt like I was a reading a movie rather than watching one!  A good read if you are a sucker for crime fiction like I am!

About the Author

Piyush Jha is an acclaimed film director, ad filmmaker and a first-time novelist. A student political leader at university, he pursued a career in advertising management later acquiring an MBA degree. Later, he switched tracks, first to make commercials for some of the country’s largest brands, and then write and direct feature films. His films include Chalo America, King of Bollywood and Sikandar. He lives in his beloved Mumbai, where he can often be found walking the streets that inspire his stories.

The book was received as part of Reviewers Programme on The Tales Pensieve.


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