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#India #Romance#RomanticSuspense#Passion#Bestseller#KindleUnlimited#VikramRana#VikramRanaMysterySeries




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#India #Romance#RomanticSuspense#Passion#Bestseller#KindleUnlimited#VikramRana#VikramRanaMysterySeries

A STANDALONE suspense story of the BESTSELLING series—The Vikram Rana Mysteries

#Blurb: Fading superstar of the Bengali film industry Ryan Gomez is poisoned to death while shooting for a film in the pretty hill town of Darjeeling. Sheila Dhar, the film’s beautiful female lead with whom Ryan had recently broken his engagement is the chief suspect. Sheila attempts suicide and is shifted to a hospital in Kolkata for treatment. The CID, Kolkata, takes over the investigation and the film crew is allowed to move back to the “City of Joy”.
Though revenge for the broken engagement seems the obvious motive for the murder, there are several others who had reason to wish Ryan dead. Powerful film producer Rustom, the love of whose life ended up becoming Ryan’s first wife. Screenplay writer Allan, who was in danger of being fired from the production house thanks to a public tiff with Ryan. Acclaimed film director Paddy, who was in love with Sheila. Sheila’s mother, Jaya, who was strongly opposed to her marrying Ryan. The family of Ryan’s first wife, who bear a deep grudge against him.
There are suspects galore, but the murderer has not reckoned with the tenacity of Vikram Rana.
The shooting was taking place in a large bungalow called ‘The Forest View House’, located on Nehru Road. It was a huge, red-tiled wooden bungalow, surrounded by beautiful gardens. Beyond the garden was a forest of ferns, birches, orchids, oaks, chestnuts and firs. Visible in the background were the tall, majestic mountains. One could see the Kanchenjunga in the north, glinting silver in the midmorning. One couldn’t help but appreciate the aesthetic sense of the person who had designed the bungalow. It was beautiful.
Veena said, ‘This is the hero Dinesh Kumar’s house. His real name is Ryan Gomez. He inherited this house after his wife, Sophia’s death.’
‘Oh. You are a walking encyclopedia of the Bengali film industry!’ Vikram said.
‘I do keep track of happenings, because Sheila is a part of this industry.’
Before Vikram could respond, they heard footsteps coming to the drawing room where they were seated.
Sheila came in with her mother. She was elaborately made up. She probably had been getting ready for the shoot. Jaya said, ‘Look, Sheila! See who’s come to visit you.’

Behind the Scenes – Now available in Amazon


Dear friends and followers of my work,

I am happy to announce that my book, Behind the Scenes – A Vikram Rana Mystery , is now available in Amazon!

This is the third book in the Vikram Rana Mystery Series.

Behind the Scenes is #1 in Amazon Best Sellers – Romantic Category Section. I could not have asked for a better Birthday Gift.Thank you dear readers for making this possible. 

Link is below.

Behind the Scenes – A Vikram Rana Mystery

This is a book about love, and the desire to find inner peace. It is a book about break ups and departures, love that resembles obsession and that deep, transformative power of true love. Spiced up with suspense , I am sure that you will love this book.

The book is set in Darjeeling and Kolkata and is special tribute to the “City of Joy” and it’s wonderful people as well.

Enjoy!!! 🙂


Behind the Scenes – A New Vikram Rana Mystery

Blurb – Behind the Scenes

Fading superstar of the Bengali film industry Ryan Gomez is poisoned to death while shooting for a film in the pretty hill town of Darjeeling. Sheila Dhar, the film’s beautiful female lead with whom Ryan had recently broken his engagement is the chief suspect. Sheila attempts suicide and is shifted to a hospital in Kolkata for treatment. The CID, Kolkata, takes over the investigation and the film crew is allowed to move back to the “City of Joy”.

Though revenge for the broken engagement seems the obvious motive for the murder, there are several others who had reason to wish Ryan dead. Powerful film producer Rustom, the love of whose life ended up becoming Ryan’s first wife.  Screenplay writer Allan, who was in danger of being fired from the production house thanks to a public tiff with Ryan. Acclaimed film director Paddy, who was in love with Sheila. Sheila’s mother, Jaya, who was strongly opposed to her marrying Ryan. The family of Ryan’s first wife, who bear a deep grudge against him.

There are suspects galore, but the murderer has not reckoned with the tenacity of Vikram Rana.

Behind the Scenes

Behind the Scenes……A New Vikram Rana Mystery


‘Ryan, you are a master of these kinds of scenes, so we should be able to close this in one take,’ Paddy, the director, said.

He had just outlined the scene in which Ryan would be standing before a mirror and delivering an angst-ridden monologue on the pains and ironies of life.

‘Yes… yes… can we just get the shot done?  My stomach ache seems to be getting worse.’ Ryan grimaced in pain. ‘At least emoting the scene won’t be a problem. It will be my most natural acting.’

The film shooting was taking place in the drawing room of a, sprawling bungalow in Darjeeling. The camera had been fixed to capture a drunken Bengali gentleman or bhodrolok, being played by Ryan Gomez, more popularly known as Dinesh Kumar.  The female lead, Sheila Dhar was seated nearby, ready for the next shot which involved both of them. Jaya, Sheila’s mother, said, ‘Sheila, I have some Ayurvedic medicine which helped me when I had similar trouble a week back. Can’t we give him a bit of that?’

Sheila said, ‘Well, it can’t harm him…..’

Olivia, a character artist in the film, said to Ryan, ‘You should just take a Fumedil . It’s very effective.’

Jaya said, ‘No, no, this Ayurvedic medicine is very good, it works wonders for me.’

Ryan looked at Jaya and said politely, ‘Thanks… I’ll try it.’

Jaya hurried out of the room to get the medicine.

The shooting was about to begin by the time she came back, and Ryan had taken his place on the set. She put down the glass of medicine on a table beside Ryan’s empty chair. She said to Sheila in an undertone, ‘I am going to the curio shop. Make sure he drinks the medicine.’

Sheila nodded and Jaya left the set.

Ryan started to speak, and then stumbled and doubled over with a sudden spasm of pain. Paddy shouted, ‘Cut. Cut… Are you okay, Ryan?’

Ryan muttered, ‘Dear God, this pain is killing me.’

Sheila handed the glass of medicine to Ryan. ‘Drink this. You might feel better.’

Ryan drank the medicine in one gulp and grimaced. ‘Everything tastes so foul today!’

The producer, Rusty, called out to Ryan, ‘We can cancel the shoot if you are not up to it.’

‘No… it’s fine,’ Ryan said, irritably. ‘I will be okay after some rest. Can we just get this shot over with?’

The shooting resumed. This time the scene was approved. Ryan breathed a sigh of relief.

Paddy looked at his watch. ‘Oh, it’s already lunch time! Let’s do the second scene after lunch. Please hurry up, folks. We are already behind schedule.’

Ryan grunted his agreement. ‘I think I will skip lunch. I will rest for some time. Call me once you are ready for the second scene.’

Rusty said, ‘Sure Ryan. Do you want me to help you to your room?’

‘No, no, I am fine. Don’t treat me like some helpless old codger. You know I can’t stand fuss!’ Ryan snapped. He staggered towards his bedroom, with the film crew looking on in helpless silence.

After the lunch break, the cameras were checked. The same room would be used for the next scene. Sheila was in her chair, looking slightly annoyed, as she waited for the shooting to resume. Paddy sent the assistant director, Bala, to inform Ryan that the shooting was about to resume.

Bala came back looking nervous. He approached Paddy and said, hesitantly, ‘I knocked on the door, but Ryan sir is not responding.’

Concerned, Paddy, Sheila, Olivia and Rusty rushed to Ryan’s bedroom. As he still did not respond, they tried to open the door. It was not locked. They entered the room to find Ryan lying inert on the bed. Sheila rushed to the bed and shook the unresponsive figure, ‘Ryan, wake up. Please wake up.’ By this time some more crew members had entered the bedroom.

Rusty said tersely to the assistant director, ‘Bala, send for Dr. Gupta immediately! He lives right next door. All of you, clear out! Let the poor man get some air. Move…. move.’

All the crew members trooped out and Bala ran out to fetch the doctor. Only Sheila, Olivia, Paddy and Rusty remained.

Rusty glared at Sheila and said harshly, ‘What medicine did your mother give Ryan? Why is he not responding? And where is Jayaji?’

Sheila looked up from the bed, fear and confusion writ large on her face. ‘What are you saying? It was just some Ayurvedic medicine for stomach ailments. My mother takes it. Why would my mother cause him any harm?’

Dr. Gupta rushed in at that moment. Rusty turned towards him and said, ‘Ryan was unwell since the morning. Now he is not responding. Please do something!’

Dr. Gupta took Ryan’s pulse. After a moment, he shook his head. ‘I am afraid nothing can be done. He is dead.’

Sheila screamed. ‘No, Ryan! You can’t leave me. Please…, oh please, come back.’

As Rusty looked on confused and helpless, the doctor said sharply, ‘I know Ryan’s medical history.  He had no major health problems. His death is certainly very sudden. I am afraid that I cannot issue a death certificate. The police should be called.’

Sheila wept, her head on Ryan’s chest. Nobody stepped up to comfort her. Instead, all eyes were fixed on her

Questioningly? Accusingly? Warningly?

Life is beautiful – A short story

‘Triiing,’ the alarm rings. I wake up slowly. Then I suddenly remember little Aditya sleeping in his bedroom. I hurry into his room to see his face in repose and a feeling of deep love and contentment washes over me.
More than a decade back, when I was in my twenties, I came to Delhi for my first job. This was the first time I had moved out of the comfort of my home and the big city had made me feel lonely. This was when I met Abhishek.
Abhishek was a successful executive with a bright future. He knew I was young, unsure and inexperienced. He took me under his wings, guiding me and mentoring me. Whenever I was in trouble, I knew that I could rely on him to bail me out.
It started innocently enough. There were some tight deadlines in our project. So the two of us sometimes used to stay back late in office. On such occasions, we often ended up having dinner together and talking about our work. One day, I was explaining a particular piece of code I had written, when he smiled at me. I paused in the middle of the explanation I was making to ask him, ‘What are you smiling about?’
He replied casually, ‘Talking to you makes me smile.’
I was pleased by what he said. But at the same time misgivings assailed me. Our relationship was moving towards something beyond normal friendship between colleagues. Was he just playing with me and trying to get me to fall for him? But in a strange way, even though I knew that it was not a good idea, I could not help falling more and more in love with Abhishek and I pushed aside these negative thoughts.
A year passed like this. The performance appraisals happened and then one day he called me to a meeting room and said, ‘You have been promoted.’
‘What can I say? I am overwhelmed.’ I said joyfully.
‘Let us celebrate – have dinner with me,’ he said.
‘I would love to… but please….’
Before I could finish, he looked deep into my eyes and said, ‘You do…. please me. Now no excuses. I will pick you up from your house.’
I was disturbed because I was aware that Abhishek was expecting something from me – I had known that from his voice. He came to my home to pick me up. When I opened the door, his eyes glowed on seeing me. ‘Wow!’ he muttered huskily. ‘You look ravishing,’ he told her, This was the first time he had given me such a deeply personal compliment. My heart skipped a beat and then started racing madly. Before I could respond, he continued, ‘I have reserved a table at 7:30. We are running late. Let us go.’
Over dinner in a charming little restaurant, Abhishek praised the way I was doing my work in office. We did not hurry our meal and it was almost ten when Abhishek looked at his watch and said with a sigh of regret, ‘Time to get you back to your home. A pity, I was enjoying your company.’
I was also enjoying his company. I looked at him and felt a little lurch in my heart. He was attractive, he was always there for me. But why did he go out of his way to help me and seek my company? Having helped me with my career was it ‘payback’ time now?
I was rather quiet on the way back as I mulled on my sudden doubts. When we reached my home he turned towards me. ‘Madhu,’ he murmured and I glanced at him from under my lashes ‘Madhu,’ he said again, this time teasingly. ‘Stop worrying about it… just let it happen.’
‘What?’ I asked him, a trifle hostilely.
‘You know what I am talking about,’ he said.
I looked at him straight in the eyes and asked cuttingly, ‘Is it pay-back time Abhishek?’
He drew a sharp angry breath, ‘No it is damn well not! I ought to slap you for that!’
‘So long as we know where we are,’ I said vaguely, turning away.
He caught my arm and shook it, frowning down at me.
‘We both know that it has nothing to do with payoff. I am insulted that you should even suggest it.’
I sighed. ‘I am sorry. But how could I be sure?’
‘Not between us,’ he said harshly. ‘You mean too much to me for that sort of game.’
I lifted my eyes to his face, probing his expression. ‘Abhishek….’ His arms came round me in a violent, convulsive movement and he held me against his shoulder, stroking my hair.
‘Don’t you really know Madhu?’ He laid his cheek against my hair rubbing it softly forward and backward. ‘When you smile I feel like kissing you. It is becoming a torture working so closely with you in office every day, when all I want to do is love you..’
‘Give me time…’ I said. But something in my face must have betrayed my own physical longing for him because he leaned forward and kissed me. It was a light kiss at first and then we were kissing with a strange hot need which shook me to my roots; I was not only accepting his passion but returning it in equal measure and we both knew it. In no time our exchanges blossomed into to a physical affair.
About six months later, he got an onsite opportunity. It was a long-term assignment and he would need to stay in Holland for a period of five years. I was happy for him, but at the same time sad that he would go away. I looked forward to the day when I would also be able to join him in Holland. The future looked rosy.
Then I discovered that I was pregnant. I was deliriously happy. I called him up in excitement. But his response was unexpected. He was furious. He said, ‘I expect that you will ask me to marry you now. The extent women will go to, to trap us in marriage.’
I could not believe that such hurtful phrases were pouring out of his mouth. Our discussion left a sour taste in my mouth. He would answer very late to my messages and sometimes not at all. I was devastated. How could the person who seemed to be my ideal soulmate change so drastically? I had been trying to call him but he was not picking the calls. Finally, a few days later, he called back, ‘Madhu, I suggest you abort the baby,’ he curtly said.
I was shocked and then furious. ‘How could you even suggest such a thing? It will be murder,’ I raged.
‘Don’t be silly,’ he said. ‘At this point it will be difficult for me to marry you. Aborting the baby would be the best solution right now.’
‘Well, you could always come back.’ I said tearfully.
‘What are you saying, Madhu! Are you crazy? You know I cannot do that. Just because you are irresponsible and do not give a damn about your career does not mean I can do the same.’
I disconnected the call then. He did not call me back though I hoped he would. As we were now in different projects, there was no occasion for us to interact professionally.
I became very depressed. I could not eat. I could not sleep. My instability made suicide seem a romantic and courageous solution to my distress.
On hearing the news of my pregnancy, my mother came down to visit me. She wanted me to keep the baby. I fell into her arms and cried buckets of tears. She simply held me in her arms and waited for the storm of tears to subside.
‘You have a whole lifetime ahead of you. This one mistake need not destroy your bright future. I’m here for you and will help you in whatever way I can. I will take care of the child. I am so glad that you chose life and did not go for an abortion.’
One day in the evening after office, she forcibly took me to the cinema. Halfway into the movie she felt queasy and had to leave the theatre and go home. She insisted that I finish watching the movie. I was not paying any attention to the movie but was rather wallowing in my misery. Suddenly I came out of my reverie to find people running towards the exit. I became aware of the acrid smell of smoke. The theatre was on fire. There was a mad rush to the narrow exit on the far end of the hall. People were pushing and falling on each other to reach the exit. There was a haze of smoke in the room and I began to cough and splutter. I could feel the heat beneath my feet. The smoke and heat were too much for me… I felt that overpowering suffocation. Suddenly someone was wrapping a piece of cloth round my face. Urgent hands were pulling at me. ‘Quick! Run! Run with me.’ I was being dragged through the heat and it was almost unbearable. I was outside in the cool air and then being helped into a car. A male voice was saying, ‘Don’t worry you are safe now with me. I am Vishal. Tell me where do you live? I will take you home.’
I was in bed. My mother made me lie down to take rest. Vishal seated himself by my bed, like a guardian angel, as if determined that, having saved my life, he would continue to protect it.
After he left, in the comforting warmth of my bed, I discovered that I was not ready to die even though I had thought a few hours back that life was not worth living. I had desperately felt the need to see Abhishek and to spend time together. Yet I realised at that moment that we really were not compatible. My loneliness had moved me to make some very poor decisions.
Vishal and I soon became good friends and he became my friend philosopher and guide. When he came to know that I was pregnant, he supported my decision to keep the baby. He was a pillar of strength in my most difficult times.
My baby was born prematurely. It was not surprising considering the stress I had gone through. My mother and I doted on little Aditya.
When Vishal stood looking at my son, I saw the regret in his face and I said: ‘What is it Vishal?’
Then he looked straight at me and said, ‘He is a grand little thing, but there is one thing wrong with him.’
‘What’s that Vishal?’
‘He ought to be mine.’
This was an oblique way of proposing a more committed relationship. But then again I was assailed by doubts. How much did I know Vishal? Would he also be a good father to my child? I was the mother of a defenceless child. I could no longer afford to let my heart rule over my head and make mistakes in my life.
In the meantime, the IT bubble had burst. I heard through common friends that the client in Holland had stopped the project and all employees from my company would come back.
It was a Saturday. I was at home playing with my baby, when the doorbell rang. I opened the door to find Abhishek standing at the doorway. I was shocked to see him, but invited him in politely.
He sat down awkwardly staring down at the baby. Then he said, ‘So this is my baby?’ I simply nodded. There was an awkward silence. Clearing his throat, he asked, ‘What’s his name?’
‘Aditya. But how does it matter Abhishek? You abandoned me ten months back. Don’t tell me that you have suddenly started to care for us.’ I said bitterly.
Suddenly he took me in his arms and said, ‘I am sorry Madhu. I have missed you so much. Please take me back. I cannot live without you.’
I felt dizzy at his sudden appearance and at his proposal. I was also extremely furious. I pushed him back so hard that he nearly fell down. ‘Am I a doll for you to play with? You will love me whenever you want, and throw me when you get bored and pick me up again?’
He kneeled down on the floor and with folded hands said, ‘Yes – beat me – I do not deserve you. But I love you Madhu… I was a fool to leave you. Take me back Madhu.’
Tears were streaming down his face. I softened a little on seeing the regret on his face.
‘It isn’t possible. It is out of the question. I have changed – and not in a way to bring me closer to you.’
‘I can’t see any change in you.’ He hesitated. ‘We could have more children, you know. I could put up with more children for your sake.’
My heart hardened again. ‘I couldn’t do it, Abhishek. I already said it isn’t possible.’
‘Perhaps I didn’t make it clear, Madhu. I was suggesting we get married. I am asking you to marry me.’
He said it pompously as if he was conferring me a great benefit. I laughed aloud.
‘A marriage proposal isn’t something I feel passionately grateful about Abhishek. I can’t think of any good reason to marry you and I have one very good reason against. I don’t want to. Also, I am engaged to another person now. I am sorry I cannot go back to you.’
It had been difficult to get rid of Abhishek but finally he had gone.
But in the evening, after I had settled down Aditya, I was again filled with doubt. Aditya was not Vishal’s biological child. Would he be able to love him in the same way that he would love his own child? Would he not think of my previous lover every time he saw Aditya?
Next day Vishal took me out for dinner . Over dinner, he told me about a job he had been offered in Mumbai. ‘It would be a great opportunity for me,’ he said.
‘When would you go?’
‘I would need to join in three months’ time.’ He hesitated and I found myself holding my breath. ‘Would you consider living in Mumbai Madhu?’
Would I? I could get away from Abhishek if I moved to Mumbai with Vishal. But to commit myself utterly and so soon….? I laid my hand over his on the table.
‘Let me think about it. Give me a little time, will you, Vishal?’
‘I’ll give you all the time I have. I was sure you’d say no. You’ve made me ridiculously happy by not just saying no.’
Next evening Vishal had come to meet me. He was playing with Aditya when the doorbell rang. It was Abhishek. He pushed passed me into the drawing room as soon as I opened the door.
‘What’s going on?’ Abhishek asked truculently. ‘Who is he?’
‘I think you can be more polite Abhishek. This is Vishal. And why have you come?’
‘Oh come off it! Six months back you were telling me you were desperately in love with me. You begged me to come back to India.’
Vishal interposed, ‘I think you have said enough.’ I sagged with relief at Vishal’s intervention.
‘Enough? I haven’t even started,’ Abhishek retorted angrily, ‘I don’t know what game you two are playing..’
‘It’s no game.,’ Vishal told him softly ‘I love Madhu and she loves me and that’s all you or anyone else need to know.’
‘She is mine. Why don’t you back off?’
There were two men fighting over me like dogs as if I was a piece of meat they both wanted. I felt disgusted. I looked coldly at both of them and said, ‘Oh back off both of you. Both of you make me sick. Please go home and leave me alone.’
Both Abhishek and Vishal tried to see me. Both pledged their love for me. I was amused by the irony of life. At one point of time, nobody wanted me. Now two men were fighting for my love. However, who did I love?
It had been two months since I last saw Vishal. Though he tried to see me, I had avoided him. The departure for Mumbai was less than a month away. Finally, I reluctantly agreed to meet him. He rang the doorbell in the evening. Aditya was sleeping peacefully.
‘I am not coming with you,’ I said, moving out of his embrace. ‘But you have guessed that already, haven’t you?’
He looked sad. ‘I know you are not. But I cannot guess why.’
‘I am sorry but I do not care enough for you to uproot myself and follow you all the way to Mumbai. I love you, but just not enough. I love my son more and want to focus all my attention on bringing him up.’
He just would not accept it. ‘We could try six month’s separation. You could see how you felt after that.’
‘I shall still feel the same.’
I knew I would never see Vishal again after this evening. Neither did I want to see Abhishek. I cried a little after he left. However, I knew I had deliberately mapped out my life on these lines. Aditya cried out in his sleep. I hurriedly picked him up in my arms. With a lot of hope, I rocked him. He was my world and I would be there to help him, guide him and support him for as long as he needed me. He was my universe, my life. We completed each other. He was the one who had after all made my life beautiful.


A Season for Dying- Blurb


Note from a killer

This is Prakash writing. I am the murderer of Padma Manepally. I am attaching photos of her dead body taken in her apartment today to prove that I am indeed the killer. Old ladies make nice soft targets. I think I will wipe out an old lady next. …Catch me if you can.”

1st April, 11:30 am Charminar: A housewife is strangled to death.

15th April 5:30 am Begumpet: A reputed doctor is bludgeoned to death near Begumpet Station while out on her morning walk.

A ruthless killer is on the loose. He has openly challenged the Hyderabad Police to catch him. The reputation of the Hyderabad Police is in tatters. The psychopath is roaming freely across Hyderabad killing indiscriminately. Or is there a method in this madness? Who are these victims and why they have been selected by the murderer? He ropes in good friend Vikram Rana to help him. As Gopi Reddy admits, ‘Random killers are the hardest criminals to catch.’ But to Vikram Rana something about these brutal incidences does not ring true and these crimes seem to be related…. Will Vikram and ACP Reddy be able to prevent another murder in this race against time before this monster strikes again?

You can buy the book at

Teaser – A Season for Dying

Excerpt from my next novel : “A Season for Dying”

The man in the dark hoodie was waiting in the shadows. It was nearly dawn – the sunlight was subtly shining through the cloud, an indication of the clear day to come. It was peaceful and calm, but he was hardly aware of it. He was seething with a violent inner excitement, anticipating his next move. He saw the elderly, slight woman in her late fifties, clad in a saree and wearing Nike trainers walking briskly towards the steps leading from the Begumpet station parking lot to the Greenland’s flyover. Seeing her, he grinned and moved swiftly yet stealthily towards her. As he was bringing the cosh down on her head she heard him and turned her head around. She let out a stifled scream as he hit her and groaning she crumpled and rolled down the steps. A long distance train roaring past the station masked the sound that she made. He hit her repeatedly as she tried to get up giggling softly to himself till she lay inert. Blood started pooling round her head where she lay. He suddenly felt tired and sleepy, yet highly gratified. This was way better than any drugs. He took out the camera and took some photos. He looked around furtively to check if anyone was watching. Luckily the place was quite dark and the parking lot was deserted. But there was a lot more work to do – he must hurry or he might be caught.

The dead body of the victim was discovered the same day, i.e., on 15th April, around 6:30 am in the morning by an auto driver who had come to drop a few passengers to the station. The police quickly barricaded the crime scene and informed the Begumpet police station head, Inspector Satish Rao, who in turn called Gopi Reddy. The auto driver, who had found the body, hung around looking nervous.

When Inspector Satish Rao arrived at the crime scene, he found a crowd of people surrounding the dead body. The auto driver was trying to ensure that nobody touched the body. The victim was identified by the local people as Dr. Renuka Reddy who stayed in an apartment in Brahmanwadi, very close to the station. She was a gynaecologist and had her own nursing home in Begumpet. Her daughter-in-law had been informed by some locals and she was already present along with another woman when Inspector Satish Rao arrived at the crime scene. When she introduced herself, Inspector Rao asked her to wait till he finished talking to the auto driver.

Satish Rao now looked around him and enquired, ‘I hope nobody has touched the dead body?’

The auto driver came forward to say, ‘Sir, I had informed the police and I have not allowed anybody to touch the body since I discovered it. My brother-in-law is a constable in the Police force. Also I have seen enough movies. So I know a bit about police procedures,’ he added proudly

The auto driver was an intelligent and reliable looking middle aged man. Right now he looked visibly shaken. Satish Rao asked, ‘What is your name?’

He replied, ‘Srinivas Goud, Sir. This is the first time I seeing something like this. I never want to experience it again. This is horrible.’

Satish Rao made a commiserating sound, ‘I know how you feel. But the investigation has to proceed. Tell me, how did you notice the body?’

‘Sir I had dropped a few passengers who were taking the Faluknama Gulbarga express at 6:08 in Begumpet Station. They were already delayed. I was curious to see if they caught the train as I know them.’

‘How do you know them?’

‘Sir they stay in Kamalapuri Colony. I also stay nearby. They use my services quite often.’

‘Okay so you were curious to see whether they caught the train. What happened then?’

‘I waited at the entrance near the ticket counter from where I can see the platform number two. As the Faluknama Gulbarga Express was delayed by 15 minutes, they were able to catch the train. Then I turned around went back to my auto and was lighting a cigarette when I noticed the body. I called my brother-in-law who then informed the Begumpet Police,’ Srinivas explained.

He was clearly becoming more and more nervous on being asked so many questions. To put him at ease, Satish Rao said, ‘Well done. Give your name and address to Constable Sumon there and then you can leave.’

Looking proud for himself, Srinivas Goud strutted towards Constable Sumon.

While Satish Rao was questioning the auto driver, he had noticed that Renuka’s daughter-in-law was getting impatient and was angrily trying to draw his attention.

As he turned towards her, ACP Reddy arrived with his team.  She barged her way towards Satish and Reddy and began shouting, ‘Look at what happened to my mum. What steps are you taking to nab the killer?  I thought that Hyderabad was a safe city to stay. How can a respectable citizen like my mother be murdered in a public place like this? And you are not even talking to me.’ Tears of anger and frustration were running down her face.

Constable Sumon, who was a local of that area, whispered into ACP Reddy’s ears, ‘This is Dr. Priya Reddy, the victim, Dr. Renuka’s daughter-in-law. The other one is Dr. Renuka’s long-time friend Barkha Bisht.’

Dr. Priya’s eyes were red from recent weeping. As soon as she heard the news, she had just put on a mismatched salwar suit and ran down from her home. Her hair was undone and she looked half mad with grief. She was obviously very fond of her mother-in-law. Barkha had also been crying, but she was now more composed. She was trying to soothe Dr. Priya.

ACP Reddy said curtly, ‘It’s also Dr. Renuka’s fault. There is a dangerous killer on the loose. She shouldn’t have come out alone this early in the morning. Anyway, what was she doing here?’

‘Every morning she goes for a swim in the country club. She takes this shortcut from our apartment to the club though the station. The steps at the end of the parking lot lead to the Greenland flyover and from there it is a few minutes to the club.  She has done this for 5 years and nothing had happened. We have been staying in this locality for fifteen years and everyone knows us.’ Dr. Priya spat out.

‘That doesn’t mean that a sociopathic killer won’t attack her in a lonely spot. We’ll need to take the body away for autopsy. I suggest that you go home and try to take some rest. Come, let me drop both of you back to your apartment.’

‘Oh, it is only a short distance. We can walk back.’ Barkha said now.

‘No, it’s alright. I am anyway going to that direction, I will drop you.’ ACP Reddy gently guided them towards his car after requesting Satish Rao to make arrangements to shift the body.

During the drive back, Dr. Priya said, ‘Generally she would start for the club around 5:30 am walk for an hour around the Kundanbagh area and then swim for 30 minutes, but as she had a delivery scheduled around 9 am, she must have decided to  go to the club a bit earlier than normal. I am a light sleeper, so I heard her close the front door of our apartment around 5 am. It was still dark when she went out. It would have been dawn by 5:30 am and she would not have been killed.’ She was gibbering, talking feverishly, more to herself that the ACP. She looked dazed and traumatised and tears were falling freely from her eyes.

Barkha said sharply, ‘Priya – please try to calm down. You will fall sick if you do not pull yourself together.’ Priya ignored her.

‘You stayed with your mother-in-law?’ Reddy asked Dr. Priya.

‘Yes. I am a widow and as my husband was her only child, I became like her daughter. Oh, why do I always lose the people I love?’ she wailed hysterically.

Gopi Reddy felt a twinge of compassion for her. But he said sharply, ‘Pull yourself up. Going into hysteria won’t help anybody. Try to compose yourself and think about whether Dr. Renuka might have known the killer. Maybe the killer had a grudge against her and singled her out. Think about it. If you can recall any unsavoury incidences let us know.’

Then in a more gentle tone he continued, ‘I understand that this is a very traumatic time for you. You take some rest. We might need to question you again, but we’ll do so a few days later. Right now I have most of the information I need.’

A large number of neighbours and acquaintances had already come over and after handing over the weeping and hysterical Dr. Priya to one of the elder relatives, ACP Reddy walked next door to Vikram Rana’s home. He wondered what his ex-colleague and close friend Vikram was doing and whether the news of the murder had reached him as yet. It was almost 8 am and as he knew that as Vikram was an early riser, he would not mind a visit from Reddy. He would also like to hear the news of the murder directly from him. Reddy was also not ashamed to admit to himself, that Vikram, being Dr. Renuka Reddy’s neighbour, might be able to provide some more information about the family.

Vikram was tall and had been athletic. But due to his hectic work schedules, he had lately been unable to exercise and like Reddy, being a big time foodie, had put on weight. He had been put under strict diet by his health freak wife Veena. So he had been pushed out of his bed by 6:30 am and had been forced to run on the treadmill that she had gifted him. Though Vikram was tough with criminals, he was prudent enough not to get on the wrong side of his wife. She was the undisputed boss in the Rana household.

After jogging for an hour he had been hoping for a hearty breakfast of aloo parathas and yoghurt, but instead was given oats and soya milk.

Looking at the bowl of oats he said in an outraged voice, ‘What’s this?’

‘This is a bowl of oats. You are approaching middle age Vikram and you should eat more healthy food.’ Veena said sternly.

‘But this tastes like sand.’

‘What nonsense. This is organic steel cut oats. Extremely good for your health. I have added soya milk. That is why it tastes a bit funny. But you will get used to it soon!’

Vikram put a spoon of the oats gingerly in his mouth. He nearly gagged at the taste. ‘It has no sugar! It tastes horrible,’ he protested, thumping the table so loudly that the newspaper nearly flew off the table.

Veena looked at him even more sternly. ‘Sugar is bad for your health. I will add some honey okay? And try not to make such stupid noises so early in the morning. The neighbours will complain!’

Vikram went purple in the face, but knowing that it was no use trying to argue with his wife, he manfully swallowed another spoonful of the oats when the doorbell rang.

Thankfully abandoning his breakfast, he opened the door to find Gopi Reddy standing outside.

Vikram raised his eyebrows in surprise on seeing Reddy so early at the door. ‘What happened?’

‘The second murder happened right here near the Begumpet Railway Station.’ ACP Reddy said rather baldly.

‘What! Right under my nose? Who was the victim?’