“Looks can be deceptive”
If there is one sentence to summarise my introduction to Puja, the day I picked up her book and the entire content of the true crime account in her book, ‘The Front Page Murders’, it has to be this one: Looks can be deceptive.
Behind her humble exterior and open warmth, you could never guess that Puja Changoiwala is the author of a gripping tale of her journey as a senior crime reporter with Hindustan Times covering the truth behind the gruesome serial killings that shocked Mumbai in 2012. It was much later that I came to know that she is an award-winning author and not only the recipient of an MA in Journalism from University of Westminster, London, but is also the recipient of Iceland Writers Retreat Alumni Award, 2018, and Westminster Alumni Awards – Outstanding Achievement. She has recently been shortlisted for the International Young Author Awards, UAE.
True Crime, as a genre, fascinates me. Not only does the public know all about the case through the newspapers and television but they have also made up their mind about the case. Would the author be able to convey something new? Would the report of the crime be as interesting as a thriller? When you report a crime, can you give a glimpse into the psyche of the killer while remaining impassionate about the incident? Puja’s book answered all my questions.
‘The Front Page Murders’ is an impassionate and startling account of the serial killings that shocked Mumbai in 2012. The story starts with the crime right from the first sentence and pulls you deeper into a dirty web of lies and deceit with the oldest motive in the world for all crimes: money. The unexpected links with Bollywood and the underworld, along with serious accusations against the top officers of the Mumbai police, ensures that the plot gets murkier and murkier with every chapter.
If ‘perfect’ criminal was a description, it would fit Vijay Palande perfectly; He is as cold and ruthless as he is smart and dashing. Puja’s personal interviews with him show us how Vijay can remain calm and nonplussed even when facing the music for all his crimes.
This well-written account of a serial killer and his capture by the Mumbai police despite all the rust-ridden and worn-down legislative and administrative systems in our country shows why India is India and there can be none other to match her!