The Deadly Dozen: India’s Most Notorious Serial Killers

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Published: 6/13/2019
A schoolteacher who killed multiple paramours with cyanide; a mother who trained her daughters to kill children; a thug from the 1800s who slaughtered more than 900 people, a manservant who killed girls and devoured their body parts. If you thought serial killers was a Western phenomenon, think again! These bone-chilling stories in The Deadly Dozen will take you into the hearts and heads of India's most devious murderers and schemers, exploring what made them…

What makes a killer? What makes him commit serial crimes without ever blinking an eyelid? Is it that he/she is wired differently than us? But then, we are all humans, are we not? We are all created in the same mould. So, technically, a killer is also one of us and yet, he is not one of us. How else would you explain these deranged souls? How else would you explain why some amongst us stoop to such depraved levels?

Anirban’s book left me feeling chilled. 

And no, it is not the kind of chill that you experience when you read ghostly stories. My chill is numbing. This chill is like a slow freezing of my beliefs, like a loss of comprehension. I am unable to grasp the macabre barbarity of the crimes perpetrated by the ‘Deadly Dozen’. Is it truly possible to sink so low? 

Well, I now believe that it is. 

I admit, when I picked up the volume I did not expect much solely because I thought the book would be a mere recounting of crimes. I expected it to be a de facto account of facts, dry and uninteresting like a rather longish book report. I could not have been more wrong!

Anirban writes with a fantastic command over both language and the topic. The stories are meticulously researched. The book would have been a drab read but for the fact that Anirban peppers it with liberal doses of droll humour and sarcastic wit. A fact I liked was that he has incorporated Hindi dialogues in the book (although he has given English translations in parenthesis). These add authenticity to the stories. The reference links provided at the end of the book further substantiate the facts mentioned in the stories. 

When I read this book my first reaction was rage – rage at the debauchery of morals in these vermin. My second reaction was fury – fury at the fact that unbeknownst to me, I shared oxygen with these killers. My third reaction was angst – angst because due to sheer stupidity of the investigative agencies, these heinous perpetrators continued to commit their dastardly acts with abandon. And lastly, once I finished the book, I felt disgust – disgust at the fact that there are so many of these killers who could have been stopped much earlier but were not. E.g., Amardeep Sada, the youngest serial killer at age 7. Yes, I did just write 7! 

I shudder to think that this teenager roams the streets as a free man today. 

There are some stories that are so horrifying that they are likely to make you retch. Anirban urges the weak stomached readers to desist from reading them. More than once in the book, he urges parents to be more cautious about the safety of their children. 

Two of the stories that left me feeling nauseated were – Story no 8, Darbara Singh a.k.a baby killer and story no 12, Anjanabai, Seema Gavit and Renuka Shinde: child killers of India. I admit, I had to put the book down for a bit before I could continue reading these two stories. 

Apart from these two, there are a few other stories that make you lose faith in humanity – Thug behram, Abhyankar massacre killers and Cyanide Mohan. I had a sleepless night over these.

However, in spite of the horrors that this book has, it makes for a fantastic read. There can be no doubt that Anirban is a brilliant story-teller. His style of write is colloquial and as a result the stories come across as casual conversations that you may have with people. That I believe is a masterstroke!

The print quality of the book is excellent, needless to say because it is after all published by Penguin. The font size makes for easy reading. Overall, I do recommend everyone to read this book. It is an eye opener and we could all do with one.

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