The Third Squad is an arresting, ripped-from-the-headlines noir novel that deftly explores how in recent decades, to ostensibly combat the rising tide of criminality in Mumbai's underworld, the Indian Police Service has carried out many hundreds of extrajudicial assassinations of suspected criminals. Karan, an expert sharpshooter in an elite branch of the Indian police dispensed with dishing out this peculiar blend of vigilante justice, has a difficult choice to make: should he continue to blindly follow orders from his superiors, regardless of their moral standing, or should he take matters into his own hands and do what he believes to be right?
Belonging to a hit squad whose members all fall somewhere along the autism spectrum, Karan, who has been diagnosed with mild Asperger's syndrome, is notorious for his ruthless precision and efficiency in carrying out these assassinations, yet he remains aloof and distant. Gradually, his impenetrable façade begins to crack, and Karan's emotional and psychological depth reveals itself as he is forced to make decisions where the stakes are literally life-and-death. Also at play is the looming specter of the city of Mumbai itself, seemingly at the cusp of a neoliberal era of enlightenment and progress, yet still trapped under the ineluctable burden of old Bombay history, which can never quite be forgotten or suppressed.
Dark and gritty, raw and fast-paced, and never sentimental, The Third Squad distills the best aspects of classic American noir writing into a uniquely Indian context, revealing V. Sanjay Kumar as a singular talent on the crime fiction circuit.