Jai drools outside sweet shops, watches too many reality police shows, and considers himself to be smarter than his friends. When a classmate goes missing, Jai decides to use the crime-solving skills he has picked up from TV to find him. Together with his friends, they draw up lists of people to interview and places to visit.
In Jai, Anappara has created a boy vivid in his humanity, one whose voice somersaults on the page. Rich with easy joy, Anappara’s writing announces the arrival of a literary supernova ... Telling a story from the perspective of a child always risks a descent into sentimentality. There’s not a lick of it here ... We marvel at...threads, so vibrantly woven by Anappara ... This is the power of this novel, how it keeps us grounded—not in the flats of the hi-fi dwellers but in something closer to India’s heart, which she locates in the minds of children with bony shoulders and dirty feet.
Sometimes, voice is all ... it’s their singular voices that give...characters their life and complexity. So it is with Jai, a 9-year-old Indian boy who’s the narrator and main character of Deepa Anappara’s extraordinary debut novel ... The moving and unpredictable novel Anappara wrote defies easy classification. Given the sometimes capricious exploits of its young investigators, Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line could conceivably be shelved in the YA section ... Yet, the tale darkens into urban noir as it reaches its awful conclusion. By story’s end, Jai has grown more hesitant, humbled by tragedy and evils beyond his once-childish imaginings, Even so, his remarkable voice retains a stubborn lightness, a will to believe in the possibility of deliverance in this fallen world.
Despite the challenging subject matter, Anappara keeps the tone light-hearted ... The gaps in the children’s innocent reasoning are quickly filled in by a world-wise, grown-up reader and rendered the more horrible for it ... Anappara offers no direct solution to the crisis she identifies, although most readers will infer that ending police corruption would be a start. Rather than lecture, she allows the characters to simply tell their stories which proves to be a far more effective method of delivering her message. If enough people hear it, then this story could very well save lives.