Author Piyush Jha gives an insight into his latest novel Compass Box Killer

Piyush Jha was a student political leader at university, and after an MBA degree, he pursued a career in advertising management. Later, he switched tracks — first to making commercials for some of the country’s largest brands, and then to writing and directing feature films. His films include Chalo America, King Of Bollywood and Sikandar. The author of the novel Mumbaistan, finds inspiration for his stories on the streets of The Maximum City. Excerpts from an interview with the author in which he talks about his latest book Compass Box Killer.

When did the idea for Compass Box Killer strike you for this book, Compass Box Killer?

When I finished Mumbaistan, I kept thinking about writing more, and I thought, why not create a character who can delve into the darkest crimes in Mumbai. A police inspector was a natural choice, and since I had already created a character — inspector Virkar in my novella Injectionwala — I decided to take him forward into a full-length novel where he investigates a crime that has many layers.

Your first novel was titled Mumbaistan. Are you treating that as the name of the series of which Compass Box Killer is the second novel?

The overall umbrella thought, landscape and style will be called Mumbaistan, but apart from Inspector Virkar, some other characters from Mumbaistan might have their own sub-series. The tonality would be similar even though the stories change; that’s why it’s called the Mumbaistan series.

How did you get the idea for CBK? Is the book it based on any real-life incident?

Not really. But, you’ll know that my stories draw scenarios that can happen. In that sense, my fiction feels real.

Since you are a film maker, Are you planning a film on the two books?

Actually, the plan is to turn the whole Mumbaistan series into a franchise that will offer not only films, but TV shows, games, graphic novels etc. It’s still being worked on.

Have you started work on the next book?

I’m about 60 per cent done.

Sneak preview

One muggy afternoon in Mumbai, a senior police officer is found murdered at his desk. When inspector Virkar from the Crime Branch arrives at the scene, he finds a cryptic note that spills out of a student’s compass box. Then begins a series of killings, and in each, a tell-tale compass box reveals more clues. Accompanied by investigative television journalist Raashi Hunerwal, Virkar races against time to catch the Compass Box Killer before the bodies pile up. As the investigation shuttles from Mumbai to Khandala to Belgaum, Virkar is drawn into a labyrinth of backroom deals that lead to shocking revelation.

The crime fiction is the second in the Mumbaistan series.

(Compass Box Killer from Rupa Publications is priced at Rs. 195)