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Necropolis is a gorgeous dream of Delhi


by Avtar Singh

Akashic Books

Mystery & Thrillers, Science Fiction/Fantasy

Pub Date: June 7, 2016


Necropolis is a beautifully composed novel that highlights Delhi's unique culture where tradition wages a subtle war against modern values. On superficial examination, the novel is composed of the cases assigned to detective Sajan Dayal and his team. These cases differ from the standard police procedural in that the struggle for power between the old guard (the traditionalists) and the young who wish to be recognized lie at the heart. Sajan's investigations are as much part of the power play as the crimes themselves. But there is more, an underlying theme of a potentially paranormal nature, where tradition is personified in vampire form, unrelenting and eternal. Singh's Delhi is beautiful and terrible at once. Poverty and wealth reside side by side and the desire to advance one's station at all costs is omnipresent. The reader is at once above it all and powerlessly immersed in the stories.

Whether I liked the novel is a difficult question to answer. Necropolis is beautiful, a fever dream that gives a unique perspective to life in modern Delhi and the challenges faced, particularly by women and the young. Reading it profoundly affected me and made me question ideas and realize how little I know about Indian culture. Necropolis is not a novel you "like". It is however a unique work of art that deserves acclaim.


I received a copy of Necropolis from the publisher in exchange for an honest review



Necropolis follows Sajan Dayal, a detective in pursuit of a serial (though nonlethal) collector of fingers. He encounters would-be vampires and werewolves, and a woman named Razia who may or may not be centuries old. Guided by Singh's gorgeous and masterful writing, the novel peels back layers of a city in thrall to its past, hostage to its present, and bitterly divided as to its future. Delhi went from being an imperial capital to provincial backwater in a few centuries: the journey back to exploding commercial metropolis has been compressed into a few decades. Combining elements of crime, fantasy, and noir, Necropolis tackles the questions of origin, ownership, and class that such a revolution inevitably raises. The world of Delhi, the sweep of its history--its grandeur, grimness, and criminality--all of it comes alive in Necropolis.

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