Thursday 26 August 2021

Anita Sivakumaran, "Cold Sun"


Anita Sivakumaran was born in Madras and has lived in the UK since 2004. Her historical novel, The Queen, based on real events, has been made into a major television series. The Birth of Kali, her acclaimed second book, retells Indian mythology from a feminist point of view. Cold Sun is her first novel in the DI Patel detective series. She lives in Leicester with her husband, children and a rescue dog from Greece. Anita has a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Leicester. 


About Cold Sun, by Anita Sivakumaran

Cold Sun heralds the literary debut for Detective Vijay Patel of Scotland Yard.

Bangalore. Three high-profile women murdered, their bodies draped in identical red saris. 

When the killer targets the British Foreign Minister’s ex-wife, Scotland Yard sends the troubled, brilliant Vijay Patel to lend his expertise to the Indian police investigation. A stranger in a strange land, ex-professional cricketer Patel must battle local resentment and his own ignorance of his ancestral country, while trying to save his failing relationship back home. 

Soon, the killer’s eyes will turn to Patel. And also to Chandra Subramanium, the fierce female detective he is working with in Bangalore.

This breathless thriller will keep you guessing until the final, shocking revelation of the killer’s identity.

Below, you can read an excerpt from the novel. 

From Cold Sun

Sparks flew from the welding gun. Spots danced in the boy’s unprotected eyes. He blinked them away, placed the gun on the tamped earth, stood, stretched. Waiting for the metal to cool, he watched the mechanic kneeling in the dirt, blue coveralls filthy, reattaching a rusty bumper to an old Ambassador. The mechanic glanced up, his eyes meeting the boy’s and flitting away like a butterfly. He nearly dropped the bumper.

It wasn’t often that the boy allowed his eyes to meet another’s. Crouching now, he steadied the cylinder at his feet, checked if the joint had sufficiently hardened. Tugged at it to make sure. Then he lifted the cylinder into his backpack. Without a word or nod to the mechanic, he lifted the pack to his shoulder and left.

Outside, he paused to blink a few times. The sun hung low over the strip of wasteland on which the concrete and corrugated-iron motor-repair shack perched. Scrub grass, hard brown earth. Torn plastic bags flapped in the dusty breeze. A faint stink of decaying offal and human faeces. The rough concrete walls and curtained rear doorways of a row of butcher shops stretched in either direction. The boy walked slowly, eyes lowered.

A street dog nosed at a mound of rubbish. Her teats stretched low, pink and white patches on them. One eye glistened pearly in blindness. Ignoring the angry buzz of displaced bottle flies, the boy knelt beside the dog. He brought some stale bread from his pocket. The dog wagged her tail. Intent, the boy watched her gobble it down from his open palm. He let her lick his fingers, lifted them to his nostrils, smelt the stench of rotting meat and butcher’s bones in her saliva.

Soon the dog grew restless. She cocked her ears at some far off sound, prepared to move on. The boy reached for his backpack, slid the zip open. The dog wagged her tail again with renewed enthusiasm. He tugged at the metal ball one more time. The joint had hardened well. He fitted it into the tube.

The dog’s tail drooped to cup her anus as the boy positioned the tube’s mouth to her forehead, his knee propped under her jaw. Inured to the city’s noise, she barely flinched when he pulled the lever and the sudden boom filled the air.

The tail wagged on for a few moments, even after the one good eye had glazed over. A smile curled the boy’s lips. He gazed slowly around the empty wasteland. Then he packed up and left.

Soon, a blanket of bottle flies covered the carcass.

Chapter One

‘Patel!’ Sergeant Jackson hollered across the heads of fourteen detectives busy at their desks. ‘Skinner’s looking for you. Hop to it, baby.’

Patel ignored the sniggers. He took the blue pencil to the report in his hand, marked a missing apostrophe to the word ‘its.’ He threw the pencil into an open drawer, where it was swallowed by clutter, and ran a hand through his hair.

‘Sadly, I already left,’ he said to Jackson, who just shrugged.

He closed the file, tucked it under an arm, slung his jacket over one shoulder and jogged to the stairs. His hair bounced and flopped over his forehead, overdue a cut. Boyish locks did not suit a homicide detective. Even if, as Sarah put it when she felt friendly, combined with his smoky brown eyes they made him look like a Bollywood hero.

By the time he’d passed the IT help desk and rounded the conference block, he was out of breath. Those years of athletic training were long gone, together with his cricketing career. Mostly now he ran to catch the Piccadilly Line and lifted pints of lager.

He slowed outside the row of senior management’s private cubicles, glanced through windows overlooking the Thames. Bitter rain streaked the glass, transforming London’s dust into slime. Through the worm-runs of water, he saw the traffic lights flash dully on Westminster Bridge. Orange, then red.

Perfectly miserable weather. Perfect for a jaunt down the road for a pint of London Pride. But really, he ought to be heading home to pack. The flight was at five a.m. and he hadn’t so much as laid out a pair of swimming trunks. In fact, where were his trunks? He’d last seen them in September, when they’d booked a holiday at some posh hotel in Cornwall. He and Sarah. Booked and cancelled last minute for emergency root-canal treatment. The very thought of it made his jaw ache.

He pushed Inspector Rima’s door open.

She looked up from her computer, swept her hair off her shoulder, said, ‘Don’t you knock?’

‘I was going to leave this on your desk.’

She held her hand out for the report, eyes twinkling. ‘So you’re off, then? Sunny Tenerife?’

‘Yeah.’ He grimaced, breathless and sweaty, feeling a little foolish to be having this conversation. ‘Nearly got cancelled again.’

‘Oh yeah?’

‘This case came up.’ He indicated the file, the cover of which Rima was flicking open. ‘Skinner assigned me.’

Rima raised her eyebrows. She wasn’t unaware of Superintendent Skinner’s feelings about Patel.

‘You got lucky?’

‘I guess.’


‘Deceased is a forty-one-year-old homeless male. Name: John Snow.’

‘No kidding.’

‘Anyway, another homeless fella comes down off his four-day bender under some bridge in West Margate, half frozen to death. Looks down, sees the blood all over his bony hands, his rags. Runs himself and his bony arse straight to Station WB10 South Precinct and ’fesses.’

Rima, flicking through the report, didn’t appear to be listening.

‘You’d think the devil got hold of the poor bugger.’

Rima closed the report, opened it again, studied the top sheet. She frowned, put her finger on it.

‘Why no copy for the FLO?’

‘Homeless man doesn’t rate a Family Liaison Officer.’

She made a face. ‘Of course. We’ve to make “savings” –’ she used air quotes ‘– of thirty million by the end of the year.’

‘You sound just like Skinner.’

She smiled. ‘If we had the resources, we’d track his family down. Even a bum has family, somewhere.’

It was unlike her to display Samaritan urges.

‘Homeless murder,’ said Patel. ‘Cold pavement to cold slab.’

‘Poor bugger,’ she said. She stared at him. ‘Come here.’

A shiver up his spine. ‘Got to go pack, Inspector.’

She came around the desk and put a finger on his shirt button.

‘How about something to remember me by in Tenerife?’ Fighting the urge to back away and run, he said, ‘Sarah wants to—’

A knock on the door. Without pause, it opened.

‘There you are, Patel. Been looking everywhere for you.’ The smarmy voice of Detective Inspector Bingham.

Rima’s hand was back by her side. ‘Dave,’ said Patel. ‘Not down the pub yet?’

‘About to, then I got asked to run an errand.’ Bingham chuckled, then guffawed.

Patel smelled beef stroganoff from the canteen lunch. He waited. He thought there was a joke brewing.

Bingham guffawed and chuckled some more before saying, ‘Super wants you.’

‘When? Tomorrow?’

‘Now, cupcake. He’s got an assignment for you.’

‘He knows I booked the week off.’

‘Yeah, he might have mentioned something like that. All the homicide detectives tied up, you know? After the New Year’s Eve spike in cases and all.’

‘You’re the SIO?’

‘Nothing to do with me. I’m going to Thailand tomorrow. Did I tell you? Warm up me old cobblers.’

Patel just looked at Bingham.

‘Don’t keep the man waiting. Ta, love.’ A quick ferrety glance at Rima and Bingham went away, strutting and chuckling his head off.

Patel raised his eyebrows at Rima.

She twitched her lips in a smile. ‘Go and get some, Sergeant.’


‘Have a seat, Patel.’

Superintendent Skinner gestured to the faded leather chair across his desk. Patel cautiously lowered himself into it, knowing it creaked madly. Although the smile on his face and his salt and pepper bouffant hair gave Skinner an avuncular air, his steel-grey eyes emanated hate.

‘You’ve closed the homeless case.’

‘Yes, sir.’

‘You’d think that in these times of austerity we wouldn’t have the resources to go after every teenage drug overdose, every homeless man pissing himself to death.’

‘It was murder, sir.’

Skinner’s smile vanished. ‘Murder of one fuck-head bum by another.’

‘Report’s been submitted, sir. Second-degree manslaughter.’

‘Justice for the poor homeless man. Could go on a recruitment poster: “We serve with ... care in the community.”’

‘Just doing my job, sir.’

‘Twice the patriot, aren’t you? Playing cricket for the country, and now righting the wrongs done to your countrymen, be they royals or the great unwashed.’

Patel felt a prickle of wariness.

‘Our poster boy.’ Skinner’s tone implied he was a highly unlikely one, and on that point, at least, Patel had to concur.

‘You’ve been with us three years, have you not?’

Patel nodded. Baiting, taunting, and now the trip down memory lane.

‘You certainly caused a storm in Yorkshire.’

Patel stared at Skinner, keeping any emotion off his face. ‘The Dales Ripper.’ Skinner smacked his lips. ‘Some of us can only dream of netting such a high-profile criminal.’ Skinner leaned forward. ‘Tell me. What did it feel like, the eureka moment?’

‘Eureka moment, sir?’

The whites of Skinner’s eyes shone like a dirty enamel sink that’d had a good scrubbing.

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