Mayuresh Didolkar’s ‘The Dark Road’ Is A Tale Of Passion, Power And Politics
Excerpt from Mayuresh Didolkar’s The Dark Road, a novel tracing the investigation of the mysterious death of a young marathoner.
‘A young woman is found murdered at a campsite, and a retired police officer is called out of retirement to spearhead the investigation.
Was the young woman murdered as part of a political vendetta?
Or did the violent past of her family come back to haunt her again?’
Mayuresh wrote the first draft of this novel in 2015, his own novel writing month where he wrote the 78000 word first draft in exactly thirty days. After spending nearly a year finding a publisher, he pitched the story to Juggernaut Publications and after a three month assessment period, Juggernaut commissioned the book in last August.
Prior to ‘The Dark Road’, Mayuresh wrote and self-published another novel titled ‘Kumbhpur Rising’ in 2014. Set in coastal Maharashtra, the story is about a group of zombies who take over a sleepy little village during a political uprising.
Mayuresh describes ‘The Dark Road’ as ‘part whodunit part tale of doomed romance set against the turbulent backdrop of modern politics and urban terrorism’. A young woman is found murdered at a campsite and a retired police officer is called out of retirement to spearhead the investigation. Was the young woman murdered as part of a political vendetta? Or did the violent past of her family come back to haunt her again?’
Here is an excerpt:
When you work as a private detective, being courteous to police officers is a reflex action. When they call to ask for a meeting, you change your schedule and present yourself. When they call and ask if they can come and see you, you say yes. Always.
That doesn’t mean you are not allowed to show incredulity, though. So, when Assistant Commissioner of Police Aseem Raja told me about the murder, I allowed my natural reaction to show itself. We were seated in my small but comfortable office in a commercial complex near Pune Railway Station. I had a nameplate on my table that read ‘Mrs Prasanna Killedar – ACP. Retd’ for old times’ sake.
‘Where was this woman found?’ I asked.
‘More of a girl really; she was just twenty-three. She was found in Bandoghat. A camping and commune site about twenty kilometres north of Kolhapur. I’m not sure what municipal limits it falls under,’ Aseem said.
‘And you think she was killed here and dumped there?’ I asked. I was thinking, Why is he talking to me about a murder that is not even in his jurisdiction?
‘Nope. She was camping there. Alone. She was murdered about twenty feet from her tent. Possibly attacked as she went there to relieve herself.’
‘Okay, first up I want to know why the rural police are not investigating this. And why you, from the Pune police? If I remember right, you were transferred to some VIP security detail around 15 August?’ I may have taken retirement from the department ten years ago but I still have my sources.
‘As of last night, I have been transferred back to the crime branch and assigned this case.’
Aseem paused for effect. We both smiled at each other and while I fiddled with my rapidly greying hair, he waited patiently for me to respond.
‘Okay, ACP Raja, give. Who was this girl?’
‘Her name is Sanjyot Pathak. Single. She was an avid trekker and runner. Worked at some design boutique.’
‘Parents had money?’
‘Not a lot. Father works as an engineer with Larsen & Toubro in Navi Mumbai. Mom is a social worker and homemaker.’
‘So this case got transferred to the city police and had a well-known officer transferred to it because?’
‘Because Rajeev, Sanjyot’s father, used to work for Siddharth Pandit. The families are close.’
Siddharth Pandit’s name would explain why the police department was falling over backwards to solve this case. But I still did not understand why he would put this kind of weight behind a friend’s daughter, however close they might be.
Aseem pre-empted my question. ‘This is the second tragedy for the family, Prasanna. Sanjyot’s elder sister, Amruta, ran away one night five years ago after a fight with her parents and has not been seen since. They think some predator got to her. Sanjyot was all the family had, and now she’s gone. The parents are crazy with grief.’
And Siddharth Pandit was promising them revenge for their youngest. I nodded in understanding. I knew that kind of person. And that kind worried me a lot.
Excerpted with the permission of the publisher, The Dark Road by Mayuresh Didolkar will be released on 1 June 2017 as a digital imprint by Juggernaut Publications.
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