Something different for a change. It's called "Sacred Games," it's authored by Vikram Chandra, and it is the most engaging novel I have read in a while. It is set in Mumbai, and revolves around a police inspector and his nemesis, a famed gangster. At 900-plus pages, it is a cross between Thomas Mann and John Le Carre, if you can imagine such a thing.
Here is Sartaj, the inspector, closing in on Gaitonde, the gangster. (I am not spoiling anything: this happens at the very beginning of the book.)
'You're never going to get in here,' the voice of Gaitonde said over the speaker after they had been working on the door for three hours. They had tried a cold chisel on the lock first, but what had looked like brown wood from a few feet away was in fact some kind of painted metal, and although it turned white under the blade and rang like a sharp temple bell, the door didn't give. Then they had moved to the lintels with tools borrowed from a road crew, but even when the road men took over, wielding the sledgehammers with long, expert swings and huffing breaths, the concrete bounced their blows off blithely, and the Sony speaker next to the door laughed at them. 'You are behind the times,' Gaitonde crackled.
'I'm not getting in, you're not getting out,' Sartaj said.
'What? I can't hear you.'
Sartaj stepped up to the door. The building was precise cube, white with green windows, on a large plot of land in Kailashpada, which was on the still-developing northern edge of Zone 13. Here, among the heavy machinery groping at swamp, edging Bombay out farther and wider, Sartaj had come to arrest the great Ganesh Gaitonde, gangster, boss of the G-company and wily and eternal survivor.
'How long are you going to stay in there, Gaitonde?' Sartaj said, craning his neck up. The deep, round video eye of the camera above the door swivelled from side to side and then settled on him.
'You're looking tired, Sardar-ji,' Gaitonde said.
'I am tired,' Sartaj said.
'It's very hot today,' Gaitonde said sympathetically. 'I don't know how you sardars manage under those turbans.'
There were two Sikh commissioners on the force, but Sartaj was the only Sikh inspector in the whole city, and so was used to being identified by his turban and beard. He was known also for the cut of his pants, which he had tailored at a very film-starry boutique in Bandra, and also for his profile, which had once been featured by Modern Woman magazine in 'The City's Best-Looking Bachelors'. Katekar, on the other hand, had a large paunch that sat on top of his belt like a suitcase, and a perfectly square face and very thick hands, and now he came around the corner of the building and stood wide-legged, with his hands in his pockets. He shook his head.
'Where are you going, Sardar-ji?' Gaitonde said.
'Just some matters I have to take care of,' Sartaj said. He and Katekar walked to the corner together, and now Sartaj could see the ladder they had going up to the ventilator.
'That's not a ventilator,' Katekar said. 'It only looks like one. There's just concrete behind it. All the windows are like that. What is this place, sir?'
'I don't know,' Sartaj said. It was somehow deeply satisfying that even Katekar, Mumbai native and practitioner of a very superior Bhuleswar-bred cynicism, was startled by an impregnable white cube suddenly grown in Kailashpada, with a black, swivel-mounted Sony video camera above the door. 'I don't know. And he sounds very strange, you know. Sad almost.'
'What I have heard about him, he enjoys life. Good food, lots of women.'
'Today he's sad.'
'But what's he doing here in Kailashpada?'
Sartaj shrugged. The Gaitonde they had read about in police reports and in the newspapers dallied with bejewelled starlets, bankrolled politicians and bought them and sold them -- his daily skim from Bombay's various criminal dhandas was said to be greater than annual corporate incomes, and his name was used to frighten the recalcitrant. Gaitonde Bhai said so, you said, and the stubborn saw reason, and all roads were smoothed, and there was peace.
But he had been in exile for many years -- on the Indonesian coast in a gilded yacht, it was rumoured -- far but only a phone call away. Which meant that he might as well have been next door, or as it turned out, amazingly enough, industry Kailashpada. The early-morning man with the tip-off had hung up abruptly, and Sartaj had jumped out of bed and called the station while pulling on his pants, and the police party had come roaring to Kailashpada in a hasty caravan bristling with rifles. 'I don't know,' Sartaj said. 'But now that he's here, he's ours.'
(Excerpt courtesy of here.)