Kalpana Swaminathan lives in Mumbai, a few streets away from her detective Lalli. Since Cryptic Death (1997), Lalli has appeared in six novels, the most recent being Greenlight (2017). Her other novels include Ambrosia for Afters, Bougainvillea House and Venus Crossing, which won the Crossword Fiction Award in 2009. Kalpana also writes with Ishrat Syed as Kalpish Ratna. Their most recent work of non-fiction is The Secret Life of Zika Virus (2017).
Sita, detective Lalli's niece-and occasional Watson-runs into former classmate Anais at Mumbai airport. Even as the friends catch up, Anais hands over a cardboard box she is carrying to a waiting woman, nonchalantly informing the traumatized lady that the box contains her son's ashes. Some days later, Anais herself turns up dead in the slimy Mithi River, a pink nylon rope wrapped ritually around her neck.