SHORT STORIES FRIDAYS (47)

THE MYSTERY OF THE DISAPPEARING MEN (3)

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Inspector Krishan experienced a migraine after the emergency meeting convened by the top police officials. SI Sudhakar got two cups of tea for both of them. Sudhakar said, “Sir, we are at our wit’s end. The Sharmas ended their lives. The media is baying for our blood. We have to get back on our feet to search for the clues. “

The inspector sipped his tea and replied, ” You are right. But the culprit is very clever. He hasn’t left any clues behind. It’s not that I expected him to be foolish enough to leave something for us. “How should we begin our investigation?” SI Sudhakar replied, ” Sir, can we check if there was a CCTV installed anywhere on the site of the disappearance? Also, we can search the houses of the kidnapped victims and ask the neighbours if they saw anything. “

Krishan said, ” It’s a good suggestion, but I don’t expect anyone to co-operate. Anyway, we have to start somewhere or the Chief will kick us out of our jobs. ” He sent a couple of his men to check for CCTV footage in all the locations where the victims were kidnapped. He and Sudhakar went to question Navin’s neighbours because he was the first to disappear. His marriage to Alia was to take place on August 24, 2022. It was the day when Alia committed suicide. Inspector Krishan had let him go. This fact disturbed Sudhakar, despite the flimsy explanation given to him by the Inspector. He was also suspicious about the casual attitude and the bunch of lies given to Navin’s parents.

Sudhakar knew better than to voice his opinion. He was sure that Inspector Krishan was corrupt and was either the main culprit or an aide to the mastermind behind these mysterious disappearances. He couldn’t directly approach the ASP without any evidence, and decided to collect evidence against the Inspector to expose him.

Meanwhile, the Guptas and Akshar were confined to a dungeon-like room with security guards posted outside. They were given food and water at regular intervals. Akshar cursed himself for trusting a stranger and allowing himself to be kidnapped. He started shouting, ” Where are you, bastard? What did you do to Navin? Why have you kidnapped us? ” The Guptas were too petrified of his actions. They were teasing him to be quiet or they would end up losing their lives. Suddenly, the TV in front of them came alive. 
Akshar and the Guptas watched in horror as Navin was begging for his life. The stranger had also kidnapped Vikram. Both of them were hanging upside down with a hungry lion opening its jaws. The stranger now faced the Guptas and Akshar. He chuckled, ” If you want your and Navin’s lives to be spared, you have to do as I say. Gupta, call your daughter, Pooja, and invite her to join you for your mini vacation. Secondly, all of you will be posting messages on social media, stating that you are enjoying your stay in Shimla with Navin and Vikram. The police need not bother to search for you. If you try to deceive me, all of you would end up as food for the lion.”

Mr. Gupta mustered the courage to ask, ” Why do you want to involve my daughter in this? What did my family do to you? Please spare our lives. We promise not to reveal anything to the police.” The stranger replied, ” Do as I say and no more questions. Don’t worry. I will tell you about the heroic exploits of your disgusting family just before you die.”

The Guptas were trembling in fear. Akshar too fell silent. Navin and Vikram were chanting Hanuman Chalisa. It was like watching the climax of some movie. Gupta called his daughter Pooja, asking her to join them on a trip. He also said that a man would be picking them up from her residence. She was delighted and replied, ” My husband, Shyaam, would also like to come with me.” Gupta reluctantly gave her consent to bring her spouse. The stranger gave them a mysterious smile.

He drove a BMW to pick Pooja and her husband. Pooja stepped inside the car, followed by Shyaam. He took off at a lightning speed. The couple were scared by his rash driving. ” Hey, be careful! “implored Pooja, ” We aren’t in a hurry” ” Oh no! ” cried the stranger, ” But I am in a great hurry.” The stranger removed his sunglasses and hat. Pooja gasped and exclaimed, ” I can’t believe you are still alive. Please forgive me. I won’t tell anyone about you. You are a good person. Please spare us. I am pregnant. If not for me, have mercy on my baby.” The stranger let out a huge guffaw and retorted, ” Do you think your sins are pardonable? Certainly not. I don’t care about your pregnancy. Sorry, Pooja and Shyaam. Your journey ends here.” The stranger jumped out of the running vehicle and pressed a button on the remote. The car exploded into several pieces along with its occupants. Pooja and Shyaam were the first casualties in the game of revenge. Their bodies were badly mutilated and charred beyond recognition. The stranger wiped a tear from his eye and said, ” Sorry, my love. You betrayed me and had to be punished for your cruelty.”

He hitchhiked to his hideout with the cruel video recording for the Guptas. Before he could torment them with the news about their daughter, The stranger celebrated with a bottle of champagne. The Guptas and Akshar were shocked when their TV came to life with the video of Pooja and Shyaam getting blown to pieces. Gupta had a massive cardiac arrest after watching the death of his beloved daughter. He died on the spot, leaving his wife in total shock. Akshar was speechless as the stranger moved towards his next prey. Navin and Vikram’s lives were in danger. What’s going to happen next? Will Akshar and Mrs. Gupta live to tell their tale?

SI Sudhakar wanted to spy on Inspector Krishan. He sought the help of a private investigator to follow the Inspector. Would SI Sudhakar succeed in his mission? Watch out for the next episode for more twists and turns.

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GOODBYE SKY FIELD : A DC HOLLY TOWNS MYSTERY (ADVANCED REVIEW COPY)

BOOK REVIEW

Author Anne Shillolo has penned a wonderful crime thriller that keeps the readers quite intrigued and glued to their seats. I found it very difficult to put down and practically had to drag myself out of the seat to my household chores. Awesome, fantastic, and excellent is how I would describe this book.

Detective Danny Cavallo, DCs ( Detective Constables) Holly Towns, Nathan Keele from the CIU ( Criminal Investigation Unit) under the order from Sergeant Shiela Urban and Montgomery Savoie, an officer from the Narcotics Unit are directed to take control of the massive unrest at Lakeshore Central High School, planned by the kids against the proposed closure of the school due to the drop in student enrollment. The riots escalate, and a blonde girl with a broken glass bottle tries to attack DC Holly Towns who hits her on the wrist in self-defense but the girl hurls abuses at her and immediately the pic of Holly hitting the girl, Delaney Hatch, goes viral on the social media. Suddenly, there is an explosion at the supposed Meth lab, followed by an aircraft which takes a nosedive and was supposed to land at Sky Field, Port Alma’s small airport. It crashes and is followed by another explosion.

Two teenagers, Landon Webb, and Kyle Russo, are suspected of the involvement in the Meth Lab explosion case while Holly gets into deep trouble after Delaney accuses her of hitting her on the face which is a big lie. She and her rich father, Donovan, are planning to sue the police department. Can Holly prove her innocence? Are the three cases of the drug rackets, explosion, and aircraft crash inter-related? Who’s behind the series of horror? Do you want to know what happens next? Do not forget to buy this book which will be out for purchase on 30th September, 2022. This is one of Anne’s best books. I highly recommend it for reading.

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SHORT STORIES FRIDAYS(43)

THE MYSTERY OF THE DISAPPEARING MEN. (1)

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Navin Gupta was getting ready for his dream marriage to his sweetheart, Alia Kashyap, the only daughter of a wealthy businessman. He had chased her relentlessly and finally managed to get her parents’ consent to marry her. His parents had money flashing in front of their eyes, when they learned about her social status and wealth. They encouraged him in his romantic pursuit. They had faked their family status to get the approval of Alia’s parents.

Alia hated him and wished she could escape from this dreadful disaster but like Navin’s parents, they considered it a great prestige to get their daughter married off to a heir of great fortune. Little did they know that they were being conned into a marriage of convenience.

Naveen’ s friends continued to tease him as he wore his cream-colored Sherwani and donned the turban. He looked handsome as he grinned at his friend and proceeded towards the pandal decorated in the marriage hall. The priest asked him to take his seat while requesting Alia’s parents to fetch the bride. It was precisely at this moment that an ear piercing scream echoed throughout the hall. The guests were dumbfounded. Alia’s best friend, Madhumita, came running towards the Kashyaps. She couldn’t utter a single word and fell down unconscious. Mrs. Vinita Kashyap sprinkled water on Madhu and offered her a glass to drink. ” What’s the matter? ” she asked, ” Why did you scream? Where’s Alia?” Madhu couldn’t utter a single word. She simply dragged Mrs. Kashyap towards Alia’s room. Alia’s body was hanging from the ceiling fan. There was a letter. It was probably a suicide note. She had written:

“Dear Mom and Dad,

You are too blinded by money to see Navin’s truth. He’s a lying bastard belonging to a middle class family. He has played with many girls’ lives, using them as sex objects. You won’t believe me but I received a video of his infidelity. You can’t call off this wedding because of your fake prestige issue. So I have decided to take this step. Please promise me to get the idiot womanizer arrested for my death.

Yours lovingly
Alia. “

Mrs. Kashyap burst into tears. Her husband followed suit. He consoled his wife and checked Alia’s mobile to verify the truth behind her accusation. The video clip showed Navin deliberately forcing himself on a girl who was pleading for mercy. The Kashyaps were furious and they called the police.

Navin was anxious and so was his parents. The police stormed into the marriage hall, taking Navin into custody. ” What’s happening?” he cried” For God’s sake, where’s Alia? Why are you arresting me? ” Inspector Krishan Saxena replied, ” You are under arrest for fraud, abetment to suicide, and a possible rape. Alia Kashyap has blamed you for her death. We have also received a video footage of your sexual assault on Rohini Khanna. She has filed an FIR against you for the rape.” Mr. Kashyap was so angry that he slapped Navin and yelled, ” You are a third rate sick criminal. In fact, your parents should also be behind bars for the alleged fraud. But no, I am not going to file any charge against them. Let them witness their son getting punished on their behalf as well.” Navin could not believe his eyes and ears. How could Alia do this to him! His parents pleaded with the Kashyaps to drop the charges against him and that they would leave the city forever.

Mr. Kashyap refused to entertain their plea and the police hauled Navin into the police jeep. His friends were too scared to come to his aid and fled away when they got a chance. His parents wept bitterly after watching the Apple of their eye being dragged mercilessly towards the police station.

Inspector Krishan pushed him to get inside the police jeep and started driving immediately. They stopped outside a roadside tea stall when Inspector Krishan uncuffed Navin and said, ” You are free to go, pal. I pretended to arrest you because of the wealthy socialites, The Kashyaps. I understand your problem. One of your ex-girlfriends must be trying to ruin your life by framing you for a crime you didn’t commit. Girls are quite vengeful these days. Just stay of this city and lead a new life. I pity your parents. So, please try not to get into further trouble. ” Krishan winked at him as Navin expressed his gratitude and left the place.

He was actually running at top speed to meet his parents. He wanted to flee the city as soon as possible and make a new start. As soon as he turned around the corner, a black car screeched to a halt beside him. A masked man pointed a gun at him, forcing him to get inside. Navin was too scared to say anything. He did as he was told. The masked man sat beside him and ordered the driver to start the car.

” Who are you? Why have you kidnapped me?” asked Navin. The masked guy removed the mask. Navin was astonished to see the identity of the stranger. ” No, it’s not possible! ” he screamed, ” You can’t do this to me! Please let me go. I will do whatever you say. ” The stranger let out an evil laugh, ” You and your friends never showed mercy on young, innocent girls before feeding upon them. This is the price for your mistake. Don’t think your friends will escape from the punishment.”
And an eerie silence followed.

The police returned to the station without the prisoner. The SI said, ” Sir, why did you let him go? He had committed a heinous crime.” The inspector laughed and said, ” Don’t worry, young man. We will say that one of his friends posted his bail and he has left the city for good.” The Sub Inspector said nothing. He didn’t like the way the Inspector handled the case.

The next day, Navin’s parents came to visit their son and post his bail. Inspector Krishan said, ” Dear Sir, you will be glad to know that one of Navin’s friend has already posted his bail. He left the city last night.” Navin’s parents appeared to heave a sigh of relief until a sudden thought struck Mr. Gupta. He said, ” Why didn’t he call us after his release? At least, you could have informed us.” The inspector replied, ” Sir, please try to understand. This is a high profile case. The Kashyaps should not know that he has been released or Mr. Kashyap could hire a hitman to kill your son. This is just to keep him safe. He will call you as soon as he is assured of his safety. His parents were satisfied with his response. They went home quite cheerful, unaware of the impending doom.

Watch out for the next episode for a spine chilling crime.

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MASQUERADE: MASON BLACK SERIES

ADAM NICHOLLS

Book review.

Masquerade by Adam Nicholls is simply fantastic. Wow! I couldn’t stop reading even for a moment. Missing, the first book, was super fabulous. This one had me completely enthralled.

The book begins with Johnny Walker, a young man of just twenty-one who’s seeking the company of a prostitute. He meets a gorgeous woman who promises to give him a good time. Unfortunately, the guy ends up dead with a message carved on his torso, ” MASON BLACK IS A MURDERER,” signed off by ‘ LADY LUCK’.

The police detective, Bill Harvey, who’s a good friend of Detective turned PI ( private investigator) Mason Black, brings it to his notice. Mason is in trouble. He has to clear his name fast before he’s arrested for a crime he didn’t commit. Someone has it in for Mason. Then,Mason decides to use his sister, Evie, as a bait to lure the killer but she ends up getting kidnapped. More gruesome murders follow and Evie’s life in danger. How will Mason prove his innocence?Will he able to rescue Evie or is it too late? Who’s the Lady Luck killer and what did Mason do to earn the animosity of a psychopath?


It’s a hard to put down crime thriller. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. Adam Nicholls is a master storyteller whose books have an impressive storyline and who has a knack of keeping the readers guessing over what will happen next. Highly recommended for all the lovers of crime thrillers.

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BLOOD WATER FALLS

TG REID

Book review

This is a splendid thriller set in the exotic location of Kilwinnoch, Scotland. It’s quite intriguing and the story moves at a great speed. There’s never a dull moment. In fact, I kept chewing on my nails as I turned each page to find out what happened next. A fantastic book by TG Reid. Richard Jones, a geography teacher at Kilwinnoch Academy goes missing while he’s on a trip ( mainly for the photography). His body is discovered near Braeburn Falls ( also Blood Water Falls). DCI Duncan Bones leads the investigation with DI Walker, DS Mullens, DS Baxter with DC Harper and their chief Gallacher. Richard is considered as a hero by many who supported environmental cause and as a result, antagonized some businesses. The police is under tremendous pressure to solve the case. DCI Bones has problems of his own. He sees a ghostly figure after suffering from PTSD. He jumps into the investigation. DS Mullens learns from his former teacher, Miss Dawn Palmers that Richard had a fight with Brandon Kinross, his colleague and arch rival in the photography competition instigated by Oliver Morton a day before his disappearance. There are plenty of suspects, Brandon, Oliver and the Springsteen brothers, renowned for stealing rare birds and eggs , who showed up near the crime scene. The suspect is too Clever to leave behind any trail. He threatens DCI Bones and his teams by setting fire to Bones’ Apartment, then cutting the brakes of Bones’ car, almost leading to his death and attacking a prisoner . Can Bones overcome his PTSD trauma and protect his image from the savage media? There are most exciting twists and turns and the climax is fantastic. It’s a must read for all crime thriller lovers.

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SHORT STORIES FRIDAYS (28)

CATCH ME IF YOU CAN 3: A CRIME THRILLER BY ME

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Inspector Vishwas received an anonymous tip citing the last seen location of Monica Aggarwal. He gathered a handful of officers and went to a deserted guest house in Lajpat Nagar area. It must be midnight when Vishwas asked his men to spread around and search the culprit in every nook and corner of the guest house. He entered the reception area and found Monica in a transparent nightie. She eyed him lasciviously. Vishwas found his jaw dropping in surprise as she swayed her sexy hips and licking the corners of her mouth. Despite being already married, Vishwas found himself hardening. He tried to exercise great self-control to avert being seduced by a murderer. In the end, lust won. He took her in his arms and kissed those delicious lips as their tongues intertwined in passion. He removed his clothes and fell on top of her now naked body. Suddenly, he was taken aback by a sharp pain and screamed in horror as Monica severed his private parts with fury in her eyes. She said, ” You are a cheat and a scoundrel! How dare you defile the sacred institution of marriage? You are going to die now. ” She forced him to take the pistol and shoot himself. He was about to press the trigger and then thud!

He fell off the bed. Thank goodness! It was just a nightmare. The bitch had scared the shit out of him. He was so frustrated that he got up from his bed and watched his wife snoring away peacefully while he was getting restless. The entire police force was under tremendous pressure to catch her dead or alive. He glanced at the clock. It was 3.30 AM. He had a glass of water and went back to bed.

The next day, he dropped his son, Harish, at the school and resumed his duty at the police station. He tried going through the files for a clue that could point towards Monica. The woman was getting bolder day by day. Fortunately, there were no murders reported for the week. He couldn’t understand why Monica was specifically targeting him.

The IT technicians rectified his computer problem and installed a special software that could prevent any suspicious hacking. Vishwas also made it clear with his colleagues that they weren’t supposed to entertain anyone in his absence. He asked SI Gautam to dig for information on Monica Aggarwal’s past. While they were clutching for straws to put an end to this reign of terror, Vishwas received a call from his wife, Shalini.
She was sounding terrified. She said, ” Vishwas, our son Harish, hasn’t come home yet. It’s been more than an hour since the school ended. I searched for him everywhere but he’s gone. Someone has kidnapped our son.” Vishwas felt his mobile slipping from his hand. Gautam was alarmed on seeing his senior’s reaction. He offered him a glass of water and asked what the matter was!

Vishwas said, ” Monica has kidnapped my only son. I don’t know what I did to offend her but she seems to be targeting me. I will hack her to pieces if she dared to harm Harish.” Vishwas and Gautam went to Harish’s school, The Holy Angel. They met with the school principal and Harish’s teachers. None of them had any idea on how Harish miraculously disappeared from right under their noses. They wanted to check the CCTV footage but it revealed nothing out of the ordinary.

Vishwas dreaded going home. How was he going to face his wife? He lost the only apple of his eye. He prayed for the kidnapper to make a ransom call. He would do anything to get back his son alive. He also decided that if he managed to rescue Harish, he would give up his job as he no longer considered himself fit for donning the noble uniform.

Gautam tried to divert his attention. He said, ” Sir, isn’t it possible that Monica deliberately kidnapped your son to stop you from investigating the serial killing in the form of accidents and suicides? Are you going to give her the pleasure of gloating over her victory? Please don’t give up your hope. If she wins, then other criminals will follow in her footsteps. It’s our responsibility to protect the citizens from all the criminals.” Vishwas groaned, ” You are right, Gautam. But I failed to protect my own son. I have no rights to don this uniform. If I can’t protect my own family, how can I defend others? “

Gautam was shocked at his boss’s attitude. He said, ” Sir, I have always regarded you as my idol. You have successfully put so many gangsters behind the bar. Did it ever occur to you at any point of time that your family was always under the risk of getting hurt by criminals? No. Because you were focused on your duty. Why are you deviating from the path of performing your duty? Don’t get distracted by your fatherly love taking precedence over a responsible officer. Even if you do resign, do you think it would be honorable discharge from duties? You have been a perfect police officer with no black mark in his entire career. Don’t make your family feel ashamed of you.”

Vishwas was stunned to hear these words of wisdom from Gautam. He felt ashamed of himself for his momentary weakness as a father. He decided to be brave and face the music rather than hiding like a coward. He thanked Gautam and went home. No sooner did he enter the home, he was in for a pleasant surprise. Harish came running towards him and gave him a tight hug.
” Shalini, ” he said, ” How did this miracle happen and why didn’t you inform me earlier? “
He turned to face a middle aged woman smiling at him. Shalini said, ” This is Mrs. Laxmi. She saved our son from getting in the harm’s way. She saw some goons approaching Harish. She walked towards him and led him towards her house until the danger passed away. Had it not been for her, God only knows what would have happened?”

Inspector Vishwas thanked Laxmi and wanted to offer her some cash reward but she refused to take it. She said, ” Sir, I don’t want this money. I only did my duty to protect your child. I am currently in need of a job. If you could help me, I would remain indebted to you forever.” Vishwas hired her as a cook.

Watch out for the next episode of Catch me if you can for more twists and turns.

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MURDER OF ANGELS

JACK GATLAND

Book review.

Well, as it’s printed on the book cover, one murder, one victim, and two bodies. Wait, How is it possible? It piques your curiosity, right? I too was quite impressed with the story for the first half. But…… But…….. But…. As the story progressed, I got properly confused. Whoa! I have never read a book more confusing and complicated than this one. I have to admit that it gives your brain something to think about. A very super exciting story losing the plot in the midway.

Former DI Derek Salmon is dying of cancer and on his own walks into the police station to confess to the murder of Angela Martin, the only daughter of a local gangster, Daniel aka Danny Martin and specifically asks for DI Declan Walsh as he was his former protege. Walsh refuses to accept that his mentor could do anything wrong. Derek tells him that he had been forced to confess on behalf of another Local gangster, The seven Sisters headed by Janelle Delacourt. Walsh informs his immediate boss, Alexander Monroe on Derek’s predicament. Derek leads them to the spot where he claimed to have buried Angela.

But there’s another twist on the tale as there’s another dead body discovered at another location with the same DNA and same fingerprints as in Angela’s case. And here begins the chaos! How can a dead person die at another place? Because DNA can be the same but not the fingerprints. To cover this technical error, it’s shown that the forensic team in another location performed only DNA test and the fingerprints turn out to be different. Then more murders follow and the basic idea is that the inter-gang turf war went wrong and the same person murdered the two victims to ruin Declan Walsh’s career.

I loved the plot. It was quite good but had it not been made too complicated, I would have certainly recommended it for reading. No problem. I will try the next one in the series.

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SHORT STORIES FRIDAYS (26)

CATCH ME IF YOU CAN . (2) : A CRIME THRILLER SHORT STORY BY ME

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Inspector Vishwas couldn’t digest the fact the murderer had openly challenged him to a battle of wits. Now he knew that Monica Aggrawal was behind the spate of murders in New Delhi. He was trying to formulate a plan to nab her. Sub-Inspector Gautam finished filing the final report for the day before he left the police station.

Gautam saw his senior immersed in deep thoughts. He approached him and said, ” Sir, you seem to be lost in thoughts. Is this about Monica Aggrawal case? Don’t give up hope. Even the cleverest of the criminals gets caught because he or she is bound to slip up at some point of time due to pure negligence.” Vishwas smiled at his positive attitude and optimistic words. He said, ” Let’s have a cup of tea before we go our separate ways.” They always enjoyed having tea at Shankar Tea Stall opposite the police station.

Six months passed and there were no more news of serial killing until the month of October. Inspector Vishwas was enjoying a family vacation at Manali. He received a phone call at midnight at his hotel suite. His wife, Shalini, hated to be disturbed while she was deep asleep. ” Is it your first wife?” she asked sarcastically. She always considered his police job as his first wife. He looked at her regretfully and answered, “I am sorry, dear. But I have to take this call.” She nodded and went back to sleep. Their son, 9-year-old Harish, slept peacefully unaware of the fact their vacation was to be cut short.

The caller was DSP Ramakant Chaudhary. He said, ” I wish I could avoid calling you. Especially since you deserve this holiday, but our criminal has come back to wreak havoc on adulterers and cheats. This time, we have discovered three dead bodies of men within a week. There’s a slight change in her MO. She has been more ruthless in case of handling men. Each of the deceased looked liked they had committed suicide. The first victim, Prasad Sharma, 30, was a habitual drinker and a wife abuser, was found dead in his bed. He seemed to have consumed pills like Gita. But the gruesome part is that his genital is missing. There’s no drop of blood anywhere in the crime scene and no fingerprints were discovered. The second victim, Ashok Himsagar, 45, had ended his life by shooting himself with his pistol for which he had license. He has left behind a suicide note claiming that his guilty conscience pricked him for his infidelity towards his wife of 15 years. His private part was also missing. Since he had shot himself, blood was splattered everywhere with parts of his brain also found on the wall. This took place a couple of days ago and yesterday we found Faisal Ahmed, 35, lying dead in his garden with foam around his mouth. According to his servant, he went to water his plants and accidentally stepped on a huge snake that bit him immediately and he died. His genital was chopped but there was no blood as usual. You see, we need your presence here for stopping the vigilante maniac.”

Inspector Vishwas promised to come back the next day and requested for the crime scene photos. He wondered how did Monica pick out her targets this time. Last time, she had gone through her sister-in-law’s mobile and discovered her true character. Monica was so furious that she had murdered all the six friends. He wondered whether these men knew each other.

Why did she wait for six months before striking back? Vishwas managed to convince his family that he would take them to Three hill stations, Mussourie, Dehradun and Nainital for a month long trip, once he apprehended the culprit. When they came back to their house, Vishwas found an envelope addressed to him. He opened it to find a single sheet of paper with ‘ Catch me if you can’ written on it. He clenched his fist and promised to put her behind bars for her audacity.

The next day, he attended a team briefing where Sub-Inspector Gautam showed the clippings of the recent Suicide-murders. As Vishwas concentrated on each victim, he couldn’t help but feel something familiar about them. These men may or may not have known each other but infidelity was common between them and one of them, physically and verbally abused his wife. As soon as the presentation ended, he decided to check the criminal database to see if they had any criminal record.

But the moment, he logged into the computer, he was astonished to find that a file containing the criminal reports had been deleted. He called the IT technicians who confirmed that his account had been hacked. He called Gautam and informed him that someone had managed to gain access to the criminal database and the records have been deleted. That bitch, Monica, had managed to fool the cops. He asked Gautam whether he had anyone suspicious lurking around the police station. He replied in negative but Constable Ramprasad’s face had lost his color. Vishwas was quick enough to spot him and asked, ” Why, Ramprasad, do you know how my system got hacked? “

The constable said, ” I am sorry, sir. It’s my fault. A lady barged into the police station and claimed to be an IT expert. She produced her ID card and said that you were her cousin and asked her to do update the system with the latest version of software for upgrading our crime records. I had no idea that she was a fraud and managed to go through our crime records.” Vishwas lost his temper but managed to resist the urge of slapping him. He gritted his teeth and said, ” Can you recollect how she looked like? ” Constable Ramprasad nodded. SI Gautam sent for the police artist. Ramprasad helped to draw her sketch. She had worn modern glasses and let her hair loose. Vishwas looked at the sketch. He was sure that it was Monica in disguise. He sought the help of IT expert, Manish Mehra. He uploaded the sketch to the computer and using special graphics, removed the glasses and mole on her right cheek and removed the additional make up.
Yes, it was Monica! She seemed to be enjoying her moments of victory over Inspector Vishwas. Why did she target him? Did she commit these crimes on purpose to humiliate him? Watch out for the next episode of Catch me if you can.

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SHORT STORIES FRIDAYS (24)

CATCH ME IF YOU CAN : A CRIME THRILLER BY ME. (STORYMIRROR.COM)

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” Oh no!” exclaimed Inspector Vishwas,” Another dead body has been discovered in our neighborhood.” Constable Ram Prasad overheard his rambling as he brought a file for getting the inspector’s signature. ” Pardon me, sir,” he said,” You seem to be upset. Would you like to discuss the case with me?” Inspector Vishwas replied with a sigh,” We have witnessed five murders within two months. All the victims are married ladies in their twenties to thirties. The mastermind behind these gruesome murders has some vendetta against young married women. The press is baying for our blood. We are under heavy pressure to solve this case as early as possible.” 

 ” Don’t worry, Sir,” reassured the constable,” We will crack this case even if it seems to be impossible to solve.” The inspector smiled at his optimistic speech. He said,” Let’s visit the crime scene and hunt for clues. The murderer has been too careful to leave behind any trail. Perhaps, we may be lucky to get a breakthrough this time.” He gathered his men and proceeded towards the victim’s house. The deceased was Sarita Pande. Her maidservant had discovered her body at the bottom of the staircase.

Inspector Vishwas arrived at her bungalow in Vasant Vihar, New Delhi. 

The maidservant, Jamuna, opened the door for the inspector and his men.

” I hope nothing is disturbed,” probed Vishwas. Jamuna replied,” Yes, Saaheb. No one touched anything.” The forensic experts came after fifteen minutes. Dr.Shirish examined the body while his assistant took the photos. Inspector cleared his throat to seek the doctor’s attention. Dr.Shirish turned towards him and said,” Judging by the body temperature, this lady died somewhere around 2 AM to 4 AM. The cause of death is probably a broken neck. I think it’s a murder made to look like an accidental death. Remember, we have handled five such cases since last month. It has to be the MO of a serial killer.” The inspector nodded in agreement. The paramedics removed the body for the postmortem. Shirish spoke briefly to the inspector and promised to update him with his finding. 

Vishwas ordered a cup of tea while going through a bunch of files on the recent deaths. The first victim, Geeta Malik, was a twenty-three-year-old housewife living with her husband, Rakesh. Her corpse was on the floor beside the queen-sized bed in the master bedroom. She had chosen sleeping pills to end her life. The empty bottle had rolled under the bed. Her suicide note didn’t blame anyone but herself for taking the extreme step. Both the coroner and the inspector found it strange that the body was lying on the floor instead of the bed. The forensic report also mentioned the discovery of some powdery substance on the teeth. It was indeed the crushed pill. Geeta had chewed the tablets instead of swallowing them with water. He continued to read the statements obtained from her family and neighbors. She was a characterless bitch. She had compelled her husband to send his parents to the home for the aged. A young man was often spotted lurking outside her apartment after her husband left for office. The inspector finished his tea and moved on to the next victim in the file. 

The deceased, Renuka Sharma, 28, lived with her husband and parents-in-law. Her husband, Sanket, was a businessman. He earned a decent income which his wife squandered away lavishly. The gardener, Ramu, had found her corpse in the orchard. Initially, the police thought she had jumped from the terrace overlooking the orchard. The post-mortem report revealed that she had died due to asphyxiation. Someone killed her and placed her body to make it look like a suicide. The police didn’t find any clue within or outside the house.

The third victim, Poonam Mehta, 27, had drowned in her bathtub. The post-mortem report confirmed the presence of alcohol in her bloodstream. She belonged to a wealthy family. Her parents-in-law lived with their younger son. The inspector rubbed his eyes before proceeding towards the fourth victim. 

Harsha Sengupta, 29, had been run over by a speeding truck. She had tried to jaywalk across the road while talking to someone on her mobile. Her death was an accident due to negligence on her part. However, the inspector wasn’t sure it was an accident. The fifth victim, Madhurima Saxena, had been strangulated, but there were no fingerprints discovered. The post-mortem report also revealed that she had consumed insecticide. Why did someone kill her in such a fashion? 

The inspector closed the files. He pondered over the spate of killings. ” What was the objective of the killer?” he thought,” Did he want to deny justice to the murdered victims? What did these women do to earn his fury?” 

As he was seeking answers to these questions, he received a phone call from Dr.Shirish. He said, ” I found alcohol in  Sarita’s system. You may have observed the oil spill on one of the steps of the spiral staircase. Her inebriated condition made her slip and fall to her death.”

Vishwas replied,” Thank you, doctor. I wish I could put an end to this murder-suicide mania. Something is staring right at my face, but I am unable to detect it. ” 

” Don’t give up, Inspector,” said Shirish,” I am sure you will figure it out.” The call ended, and the inspector decided to take a walk to clear his head. A sudden thought struck him as he strolled by a shopping mall. All these ladies lived a few streets away from each other in Vasant Vihar. They must have known each other. Judging by the character sketch gathered from their files, they seemed to lack moral values. Their spouses were nowhere in the vicinity as the victims succumbed to their deaths. He thought perhaps they might have conspired together to get rid of their respective wives. He re-entered his office and reviewed the files once again. 

He didn’t find anything unusual. He called Sub-Inspector Gautam and asked him to check whether these women had any criminal record. 

” Sir,” yelled Gautam,” These ladies filed several complaints against their husbands and parents-in-law around eight months ago. They had also withdrawn their complaints within a week.” The inspector resumed his seat. He called one of the computer experts to search the social media accounts of the dead women. Finally, he ended up with lots of information to proceed with the case. 

Later, he had a quick dinner with his family and retired to his study. He was reading the diary of the first victim, Geeta Malik. He had found it on her dressing table. The ladies had attended Lady Sriram College. They fell in love with some guys they met through social media sites. Their parents vehemently opposed their choice of future husbands. They forced the girls to discontinue their studies and got them married into wealthy families around a couple of years ago. The girls had kept in touch with each other even after their marriage. 

He studied the report sent by his IT colleague. It contained the transcripts of all messages from WhatsApp and Facebook. His eyes nearly bulged out in surprise after reading the contents of their WhatsApp group,’ Get rich quick and easy.’ They had plotted to get rid of their husbands and claim the insurance money. The manner of their deaths was just as they had planned for their spouses. Vishwas let out a yawn and retired for the day.

The next day, Gautam told him about the spouses of the victims. Geeta’s husband, Rakesh, was with his advocate for filing the divorce petition at the time of her death. Renuka’s husband, Sanket, was with his friends in a bar. Gautam himself had checked out his alibi. Sanket resorted to alcohol because of his wife. 

Poonam’s husband, Kunal, was in London to attend a business conference at the time of her death. Kunal had started visiting a counselor after he went into a deep depression. He had attempted suicide. Fortunately, his neighbor noticed him trying to hang himself as the window of his room was open. Harsha’s husband, Mithun, had already deserted her and fled to Singapore. Dinesh, Madhurima’s husband, was in prison for a DUI case. Sarita’s husband, Raghav, was in the hospital for the corona treatment. 

” What about the domestic help?” asked the inspector. Gautam replied,” Except for Sarita’s maidservant, none of them were present at home. It seems that their mistresses sent them on errands.” 

The inspector commented,” I think we are missing out on something important. There has to be a missing link connecting these ladies. Have you questioned their ex-boyfriends and relatives?”

” As you can see, the husbands had solid alibis. Except for Geeta’s lover, the rest of the boyfriends barely contacted them. All the ladies had ostracized their in-laws,” said Gautam, ” I have checked their phone records. Most of these ladies spent a lot of time chatting with each other. There are some calls made to their ex-boyfriends who did not respond to their overtures. There were many calls made to and received from a particular number over the past six months. It belongs to Anita of Anita Beauty Parlor and Spa. I will send Constable Tara and Sub-Inspector Devika to interrogate her.”

Inspector Vishwas called Gautam to discuss the bank statements of the dead women. He found out several suspicious transactions. The ladies received a healthy monetary donation around six months ago. They diverted this money to pay the blackmailer. The inspector felt that the beauty parlor was the point of exchange for the blackmail money. 

The next day, Constable Tara and Sub-Inspector Devika paid a visit to Anita Beauty Parlor. Anita felt nervous as she saw the two female cops approaching her. Tara took out the photos of the dead women from her shirt pocket and showed them to her. ” I believe you know these ladies,” she said,” Don’t try to lie that you can’t identify them. We have enough evidence that suggests your involvement with them. Please answer our questions and co-operate with us. ” 

Anita saw the photos and replied,” They were my clients. They would make an appointment every month. Other than that, I have no idea what they were up to.” ” You are a filthy liar,” yelled SI Devika, “We have the phone records that suggest otherwise. I want to hear only the truth.” Anita broke up,” I feel foolish for getting entangled in their dirty games. They would come here on Thursdays of every month and get their beauty treatment. They would give me a brown packet which I had to hand over to the chauffeur of a black BMW.” Anita wrote the license number of the car on a piece of paper and handed it to Tara. 

The cops returned to their police station. 

Tara briefed her superiors about her investigation with SI Devika and gave him the paper. Gautam told Vishwas that the car belonged to Monica Aggrawal after checking the license number online. Vishwas’ face immediately brightened. He identified her as the psychiatrist treating Kunal Mehta, the husband of the deceased, Poonam. ” Come on, Gautam,” he exclaimed,” We have to visit Kunal to learn more about his partnership with Monica in committing the gruesome murders.” 

The inspector pressed the doorbell as SI Gautam cast a glance around the bungalow. Kunal opened the door and stood with his mouth wide open in surprise. ” May we come in ?” inquired the inspector after snapping his fingers across Kunal’s face. He came out of his stupor and let them in. 

SI Gautam said,” We have a new development in the investigation of the deaths of your wife and her friends. We have evidence to prove that Monica Aggrawal is the mastermind behind the blackmail and suicide murders of Poonam Mehta and her friends.” ” No! It’s impossible,” yelled Kunal,” My Monica won’t hurt even a fly. You are lying. ” The inspector replied,” My Monica, huh? Don’t you think it’s too early for you to contemplate a second marriage?” 

Kunal snapped,” Please don’t jump to any conclusion. Monica is my elder sister as well as my counselor. She is married to Dr. Rohit Aggrawal. My late wife drove me crazy, and I had to seek Monica’s help to redeem myself from the brink of a tragedy. One day, I saw Poonam’s mobile on the bed when she was taking a bath. She forgot to lock her phone. I saw some message notification blinking on her mobile. I picked it up and browsed through the contents. I was dumbfounded to read her message to her friends plotting my death to claim insurance. I didn’t know what to do. So, I immediately forwarded her messages to Monica. She visited us the next day. She wanted to convince Poonam to give up her willful scheme to destroy our family. I left them alone. I think Poonam went to the restroom while Monica peeked at her mobile. They had a big argument after Poonam caught her glancing through her mobile. Monica stormed out of the room and touched my cheek gently. She said,” Don’t worry about that filthy wife of yours. She will never succeed in her plan.

That was the last time I saw her. I tried to contact her, but she wasn’t reachable. Honestly, I never thought that she would seek revenge in such a fashion.” 

” Why did you not approach us instead of your sister?” demanded Gautam. Kunal chuckled and answered,” You don’t know about my wife. She and her shameless friends were manipulative. They would shed crocodile tears and get their jobs done. I am sure that they might have battled their eyelashes to impress your men and filed a fake complaint.” Inspector and SI looked at each other awkwardly. ” Could you give us your sister’s clinic and residential address along with her mobile number?” asked the Inspector. 

Kunal provided Monica’s address and phone number to the Inspector. The inspector and SI returned to the police station and tried calling Monica. Her number was switched off. ” It’s time for action,” said Gautam, ” Let’s obtain a search warrant and gather proof of her crime.” 

After completing the necessary formalities, they went to Monica’s clinic. It was closed with a note taped to the door. It mentioned, “Well done, for tracking me. I am happy to see that the police occasionally use their brains. Unfortunately, you will never succeed in your mission to catch me red-handed. The dead women got what they truly deserved. Marriage is a sacred institution. They smeared it with their greed. I am going to undertake a new project to eliminate adulterous spouses. You can never arrest me while I am still alive. 

Yours truly,

Lady Scavenger Monica.”

PS. Catch me if you can.

The cops were stunned to find the open challenge given by the murderer. Vishwas and Gautam were at a loss for words. 

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WEB OF LIES

SALLY RIGBY

Book review

This is a super excellent thriller by Author Sally Rigby. Every page had me captivated right from the beginning. I love this series and thoroughly enjoyed reading it. It’s a wonderful thriller and has all the essential features like perfect twists and turns just when you think you have discovered the culprit, or suspect a shady character, element of surprise, intrigue that wants to keep you glued to your seat. The story is set in England.

The book begins with a cute description of the family of Jenny Johnson, her husband Kyle, their sons, Tyler and Lucas on a picnic to Foxton Locks ( England). Tyler stumbles upon a dead body. The victim turns out to be Donald Witherspoon, Sarah’s husband. Sarah happens to be the cousin of Sebastian Clifford, a former detective inspector in the City of London Police Fraud Squad. Sebastian belongs to the family of aristocrats. His father is a Viscount Worthington. Since Donald was involved in the Ponzi Scheme, robbing his investors of their money, Sebastian’s family sends him as their representative to attend the funeral at Market Harborough. Donald’s death has been declared suicide but Sarah feels suspicious because of a note he left behind.

She requests Sebastian to investigate the case. Initially, he is reluctant but out of affection for Sarah, he decides to help her. He requests the case files from DC Lucinda Bird aka Birdie who’s intrigued by his revelation. She offers to help him but on the condition that she would be his partner. As they dig deeper into the case, they are shocked by the turn of events. There’s a roller coaster ride of danger, excitement and thrill. Is it really suicide or a murder? This is a fascinating fast paced action thriller and a must read for all the mystery and thriller lovers.

Thank you so much for taking your precious time to visit my website. Hope you enjoyed reading my blogs. 😊😊