The East India Company is master of almost the entire subcontinent, but real power is now with the Crown. Far from the great games of the empire, Captain William Henry Sleeman is content to administer Jabalpur district and dig for remnants of petrified bones with his charming and knowledgeable wife. Until he is tasked with investigating the activities of an obscure group of criminals who are said to strangle their victims.
As Sleeman uncovers the many layers of the Phansigar problem, he finds a language unlike any other, and a set of beliefs, lore and superstitions seemingly drawn from the soul of the countryside. He finds orchards of corpses, and a hierarchy of stranglers, but also ordinary men driven to murder. He hears subtle murmurs of discontentment at the changes which have come to a land believed by some to be unchanging. He finds auguries of a conflict to come. And behind it all, the legend of a mysterious, beautiful man, whose capture might be the key to understanding the Phansigars
Siddhartha Sarma is an author, journalist and historian from Guwahati, Assam. His most recent novel is Year of the Weeds (2018) and his most recent non-fiction work is Carpenters and Kings: Western Christianity and the Idea of India (2019).