It is 1876 and the city of Cardim is rife with a smell of murders and malice…
67-year-old archeologist Joseph Flanders would prefer not to die a failure. When a Hindu monk gives him an ancient wooden box, he thinks he has been given a final chance to salvage his career and achieve academic glory. He is mistaken. The next day, the monk is arrested on the suspicion of being a dreaded serial killer and Joseph finds himself embroiled in a hostile investigation.
Maya is an enigma. Her colleagues at the firm where she works as a junior clerk find her incompetent and annoying. They don’t know that she is secretly a part of a private detective agency. The detectives at the agency too, have little clue about her connections with the city police. While the police themselves are in the dark about her dealings with the criminal underbelly of Cardim. When her investigation in the serial murders brings her closer to Joseph and the mysterious box in his possession, Maya is convinced that the killings are not mindless acts of violence, as the police believe, but part of a much larger plot with the involvement of some of the most influential men of the city.
Before long five guards at the prison facility where the serial killer is being held are found murdered and Cardim is plunged back into terror. It now falls on the unlikely pair of Joseph and Maya to piece the macabre puzzle together and decipher the mystery. But they need to be careful, or they could easily be the next target of the murderer.
Targeted Age Group:: 18 Above
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I was watching a movie, a World War 2 movie whose name, incredibly, I have forgotten. But the lasting image was that of a multitude of people, a crowd so huge that it wasnt possible to differentiate between faces. I thought about a city which would have so many people that it was about to burst and Cardim was born.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
In many ways. I was travelling on a subway and i saw a man whose head was strangely shaped like an anvil. He was such a great find and he became a part of my story. Once i saw a rag picker and i thought about a poor boy stumbling upon gold in a garbage tin. They're all out on the road, I think, the characters.
First time is often memorable.
Cecil Davids would never forget the first time he saw a dead man. The limp body in the street, limbs bent awkwardly like a poorly made clay doll, grey face rigid with fear and the lips, blue as if on fire. In his 14 years in Cardim, the boy had seen his good share of the macabre, but few things are as frightening as death.
Especially if you happen to know the dead man.
Cecil had known Bernardo Periera for two years now. Ever since he had decided, in a fit of rage upon being refused extra bread while having lunch in his orphanage mess, to become the richest man in the world. He had taken a job at Bernardo’s tavern where he cleaned pots and pans and occasionally fetched meat and vegetables from the market. It was hardly the sort of work that would make him the richest man anytime soon, but Cecil had reasoned that it was a start. He was wrong.
In his two years in the shop, he hadn’t been able to save enough to buy new shoes. His own pair were torn and the soles so worn out that walking in them felt like walking bare feet. Bernardo paid him only a Cowrie a week for his work and he was quick to withhold even that little trinket if he found a spot of grime on a cleaned table or if Cecil failed to scrub the copper pots to a gilded luster. On top of that, he would abuse the boy and kick him mercilessly if he was a second late to work than six in the morning and ventured out before nine in the evening. Cecil had friends who were having a better time cleaning sewers in the city.
But Cecil wasn’t the only one at the tavern who would surrender a week’s wages to punch Bernardo in the face. The arrogant owner behaved worse with men much older to Cecil. He would shout at them, abuse them and threaten to throw them out for the smallest of mistakes.
So, it was no surprise that when Bernardo died Cecil heard people at the tavern say that he died a death of his own making. Truth be told, even the boy felt he deserved nothing less. Bernardo had a heart of stone, and people like him took little time to drown.
“It is Periera Day tomorrow,” he had told Cecil taking him aside on the evening of his death, “The annual grande evento. To mark the day the Peireras decided to set sail from their village in Sines, Portugal a century earlier and come to Cardim, to change the history of the city, forever.”
Cecil doubted the Perieras had done anything of prominence to warrant the yearly celebration. The family owned a chain of shoddy inns and taverns where small boys worked as indentured laborers. Nothing that changed the course of history, but Cecil kept his opinion to himself.
“That is great,” he said.
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