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S-H-E by Pradeep Kapoor

My take on the book:

Satendra Singh, an electronics dealer is found dead in a dingy hotel — hands and legs tied up to the bed, body naked and radial arteries slit longitudinally. Six alphabets A, B, E, R, S, U are spread in his blood. When police check his last dialed contacts, they find a number saved as Sexy iPhone, which is no longer reachable. Though the hotel manager confirmed Satendra was accompanied by a good-looking woman, police are not able to find any further clues and the case is pushed into oblivion soon.

Few weeks later, Chetan Chhabra, owner of Olympia gym is found dead in his house — killed in similar way. However, a small-time journalist reaches the victim’s house and reports details of the murder on national TV. There are also few eyewitnesses who noticed a woman near Chetan’s house on the evening of the murder. But police again fail to find clues that would point at the killer.

And then a third murder — Randeep Rathore a real estate tycoon and the modus operand is same as that of Chetan’s murder. While police again struggled to find any leads, the journalist has bigger break-through when he connects the dots and confirms triple murders happened and not just the recent two that have been reported in media.

Anika, a young woman befriended these three men and using her sex appeal and oomph factor tricked them into alone time and killed them. As Anika found her fourth target Aakash Arya, owner of a fleet of taxis, the newly appointed police officer Kunal Khanna is given the responsibility to catch the serial killer. Will Kunal be able to catch Anika before she gets to her next target, forms the rest of the story.

S-H-E is story of a woman serial-killer who befriended men and using her glam trapped them into getting intimate with her and smartly murdered them without leaving any clues. The story begins in an interesting manner showcasing Anika’s confidence to execute well planned murders. When circumstances take an unexpected turn, she still holds her ground. The reason for her choosing certain men and executing them is also well explained by author at the end.

The story however loses pace after two murders, as police do not make any progress in gathering clues about the murderer. The proceedings feel one sided with Anika having the upper hand, till Kunal Khanna takes over the case. The police investigation should have been tauter as latest technology and forensic evidence means it is difficult for a murderer to be invisible, like Anika.

Even in climax Kunal finding the suspect happens by chance and not through strong investigation. He trying to catch the suspect alone without having any support from his team also feels forced into the narrative and unrealistic. The topic of child sexual abuse that author wanted to highlight comes only after the climax and while it is handled in sensible way, the other shortcomings of the story overshadow the intended message.

The story has a good pace in the first half but the second half especially towards the climax could have been better executed. The story of a serial killer with a motto, S-H-E thrills in parts; if you are fan of thrillers, it will make for a good one time read.

My rating: