The killer was disappointed. Rahul’s murder had been relegated to a short piece in the newspaper. Little more than a sidenote.

What disappointed him even more – though of course he was not in the slightest bit surprised – was the fact that no publicity had been given to the find in Greater Kailash.

All those corpses. All that evidence. It should have been the lead item on the news.

And yet there had been nothing.

The usual suspects were once again covering their asses. But he knew who they were; he had done his research.

Arranged on the surface before him was a series of photographs, a selection of Delhi’s great and good. Men who would whimper when they died. The killer was choosing his next victim. He knew the method, of course.

Now to decide who died next.

Delhi’s governmental hub was the Secretariat, based in the area known as Indraprastha Estate. There, Chief Minister Mohan Jaswal was to preside over a press briefing.

Santosh sat alone, one eye on the lectern at the front of the room from where Jaswal would conduct the press conference, another on the journalists around him. To his left sat Ajoy Guha, a familiar face from DETV. Broadcasting from Delhi’s media hub at Noida, and boasting twice the viewership of the other news channels put together, DETV was known for its fierce reporting, outspoken views, and hard-hitting investigations, and the fiercest and most outspoken show of all was Guha’s Carrot and Stick.

Guha was tall and lanky with slightly thinning hair and a narrow face accentuated by wire-framed glasses. He sat scribbling into a notebook. Santosh admired his methodical approach. You didn’t become the country’s highest-paid news anchor for nothing, he reasoned.

Guha stopped writing and put the notebook away. He took out a box of Nature’s Way lozenges and popped one in his mouth.

Next Santosh saw Jaswal, standing just outside the door. The Chief Minister took a puff of his bronchodilator then entered, approaching the lectern and adjusting the microphone.

He wore a pale yellow turban, color-coordinated with the kerchief in his pocket. Perfect for TV cameras.

There were advantages to being Sikh – the turban and white beard instantly caught the attention.

Like the seasoned campaigner he was, he began to field questions from the press. Innocuous queries at first. Camera flashes went off like little bombs. Santosh watched with interest as the conference rumbled on, wondering if the issue of the corpses in Greater Kailash would come up.

And then India’s most fearless reporter weighed in.

“Just one final question, sir,” said Guha, waving a sheaf of papers. “I have with me copies of police reports indicating that up to eleven corpses were discovered in the basement of a house in Greater Kailash. The question to you, Chief Minister, is this: why didn’t you tell us?”

Who leaked? wondered Santosh. Let’s see how Jaswal gets himself out of this.

Jaswal didn’t miss a beat. “Neither the police nor the Lieutenant Governor have informed me of this matter,” he said.

Good play, thought Santosh. It wasn’t a lie but it wasn’t quite the whole truth either.

At the lectern, Jaswal went on, raising a statesman- like finger to make a point. “But if what you say is true then heads will roll,” he said.

“Ladies and gentlemen, the Chief Minister has another official engagement and hence the press conference must end here,” said the press secretary as Jaswal turned to leave. There was a mad scramble as reporters fired off further questions while cameras whirred and flashed.

Santosh followed Jaswal out. He needed a few minutes with him.

In his office, Jaswal seethed. “Who is feeding them information, Santosh? Why is it that my own sources of information are being throttled, yet a...toad like Guha knows all about it?”

Santosh gave a small shrug.

Jaswal reddened. “But this is what I’m paying you to find out.”

“Are you? I thought we were being paid to look into the murders.”

“Anything. Just bring me anything.”

“In order for you to make political capital out of it? I’m not sure that’s Private’s style.”

“Jack Morgan has no such qualms. If the ethics of the investigation bother you, I suggest you take it up with him. Better still, why not just get on with the case, find the killer, and leave the rest to me. Then we’ll all be happy.”

Santosh nodded. The man was right. It wasn’t up to Santosh to question why they were investigating, nor what the long-term ramifications might be. It was up to him to get on with the investigation and try to find the killer or killers. Let the politicians slug it out between themselves afterward.

Outside the building he met Nisha, fresh from procuring information at the Public Works Department.

“How did it go?” he asked.

“They huffed and puffed but I fluttered my eyelashes, opened my purse, and got the information I needed.”

Santosh stopped and adjusted his scarf. “Go on,” he said.

“Okay, well, the house at Greater Kailash is no ordinary house.”

“Apart from the fact that there was a corpse-disposal factory in the basement,” said Santosh drily.

“Yeah, apart from that. Get this – it was last occupied by the director of the Central Bureau of Investigation. No one has been allocated the house for the past three years, something to do with a missing structural stability certificate.”

“I see,” said Santosh, chin raised, eyes gleaming behind his glasses.

“So I need to find out who was heading the Central Bureau of Investigation three years ago,” said Nisha.

“There’s no need. I can tell you. It was the present Lieutenant Governor, Chopra,” replied Santosh, whose memory for such information had not diminished.

Nisha whistled. “Then we have a prime suspect.”

Santosh shook his head. “Chopra is a killer who hid the bodies in his own basement? No, Nisha. Somehow I don’t think it will be that easy. If only it were. But one thing we do know is why Chopra and Sharma are blocking information from reaching Jaswal. It’s not because they hope to hurt Jaswal, it’s because the truth is potentially embarrassing for Chopra.”

“Are you going to tell Jaswal?” she asked.

“I should, shouldn’t I? Given that our original brief was to find that out for him. Except that just now he asked me to continue looking into the murders and for the time being that’s exactly what I plan to do.”

Excerpted with permission from Private Delhi, Ashwin Sanghi and James Patterson, Arrow Books.