This vivid novel, based on a true story, follows nine-year-old narrator Jai who is searching for missing children in his Indian slum.

Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line is less a reading experience than an encounter with a life force. The rattle-tattle energy of the basti will pull the readers in as they experience the smells, colours and tastes of this captivating world.

From relaying the rampant poverty to inherent cultural barriers, to corruption including openly bribing police, the book is utterly mesmerising.

On the outskirts of a sprawling Indian city sits a teeming basti, the kingdom of the cheeky narrator Jai and his friends Pari and Faiz. When one of their classmates goes missing, Jai decides to use the crime-solving skills that he has picked up from his beloved detective shows.

Jai enlists his friends, whip-smart Pari and thoughtful Faiz to assist him on his mission and together they draw up a list of people to interview and places to visit in their search.

Asian Image:

Author Deepa Anappara (Picture by Liz Seabrook)

But what begins as a game soon becomes sinister as other children start to disappear from the neighbourhood. Jai, Pari and Faiz will encounter terrified parents, unscrupulous police and a new world awash with rumours of monkey-men, soul-snatching djinns and kidney-hunters on their journey to discover the truth.

What makes the novel even more gripping is that it is told through the eyes of a child protagonist who doesn’t fully grasp the implication and gravity of the disappearances of the children.

The prose is wonderfully visual and conjures striking images. Readers will be entranced with the portrayal of unflinching reality that allows for the fierce warmth of family life, that shows how a community can be forged in times of trouble, and of course how the bold and loveable Jai and Pari seek out the truth no matter what.

Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line is compelling, evocative and also full of heartbreak.