Santosh Wagh quit his job as head of Private India after harrowing events in Mumbai almost got him killed. But Jack Morgan, global head of the world’s finest investigation agency, needs him back. Jack is setting up a new office in Delhi, and Santosh is the only person he can trust.
Still battling his demons, Santosh accepts, and it’s not long before the agency takes on a case that could make or break them. Plastic barrels containing dissolved human remains have been found in the basement of a house in an upmarket area of South Delhi. But this isn’t just any house: this property belongs to the state government.
With the crime scene in lockdown and information suppressed by the authorities, delving too deep could make Santosh a target to be eliminated.
Read on for an extract from Private Delhi!
The killer emptied the final bag of ice into the bath and shut off the cold tap.
With the tub full he stood back to admire his handiwork, watching his breath bloom. Winter in Delhi, it was cold, but the temperature in the small bathroom was even lower than outside and falling fast, just the way he wanted it.
From outside came the sound of footsteps on the stairs and the killer moved quickly. His victim was early but that was fine, he was prepared, and in a heartbeat he left the bathroom and crossed the front room of the apartment, scooping his hypodermic syringe from a table as he passed. A scratching sound announced the key in the lock and the victim opened the door.
The killer attacked from behind, grabbing the victim, pulling him into the room, and smothering a cry of surprise with one gloved hand. He used the syringe and for a second the victim struggled, then went limp. The killer let him drop to the carpet, checked the corridor outside, and then kicked the door shut. He bent to the victim and began to undress him.
Ten minutes later the victim awoke, naked and gasping in the bath. The bathroom light was off and his eyes hadn’t yet adjusted to the gloom but he heard the clicking of the ice cubes and knew instantly where he was. His arms had been hoisted overhead, handcuffed to the taps; submerged in the ice, his feet and knees were bound. As he began to struggle he heard someone enter the room and then a gloved hand pushed his head beneath the cubes. He inhaled icy water, feeling his airways fill and his heart constrict with the shock of the sudden cold. When the hand allowed him back to the surface, his coughs and splutters were punctuated by the violent chattering of his teeth.
The figure loomed over him, a shadow in the darkened bathroom. “You’ll feel it in your toes and fingertips first,” he said. “Tingling. Then numbness. That’s your body redirecting resources to protect the vital organs. Clever thing, the body, it can adapt quickly. If you were an Inuit, an Aborigine, even a Tibetan Buddhist monk, then withstanding this kind of cold would be simple for you, but you’re not those things, you’re . . .”
The killer moved into view. In his hand was the victim’s name badge, taken from his shirt. “Rahul,” he read, and then tossed it into the bath. “Oh, I do apologize. I’m sure you know all about the effects of cold on the human body. You know all about the slow shutting down of the various functions, how the brain dies before the heart.”
“Who are you?” managed Rahul. He squinted. “Do I know you?” The attacker’s voice was familiar somehow.
“I don’t know,” said the attacker. “Do you?” He perched on the edge of the bath and Rahul could see he wore all black, including a black balaclava. Opaque surgical gloves seemed to shine dully in the gloom, giving him the appearance of an evil mime.
“You’re wondering why I’m here,” said the man, as though reading his thoughts. He smiled and removed from his pocket a tiny little tool that he showed to Rahul. “Are you familiar with a procedure called enucleation?”