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Book excerpt from Arjun Raj Gaind’s new murder mystery Death at The Durbar

‘Give me a moment to take a look around,’ Sikander said.With those words, his face seemed to change, a dispassionate mask descending. From the inside pocket of his jacket, he pulled a pair of gloves, slipping them carefully onto his hands. However, rather than approaching the body directly, he chose to make a slow circuit of the room, touching a tapestry here, caressing a piece of marble statuary there.To those unfamiliar with his techniques, it might have looked like Sikander was wasting time, but this was actually a vital part of his process, a ritual he had devised in imitation of the legendary Eugene Vidocq. In his opinion, there was no better way to get a sense of the scene, to discern if there were any clues worth recording, any traces left behind by the killer that might offer an indication of his identity.

To Sikander’s chagrin, nothing seemed particularly out of the ordinary. There was no mess, no blood, no signs of a struggle. Even the rug beneath the corpse, a Savonnerie, he noted absently, was unwrinkled.Out of the periphery of his vision, he noticed that Commissioner French and O’Dwyer had followed him into the room. They stood by the door, whispering to each other, eyeing him with nearly identical expressions of smirking contempt. Frowning, Sikander bit back his irritation and finally approached the corpse. Rather than examining it directly, he came to a stop behind it, some two feet away.Closing his eyes, he tried to clear his mind, to sharpen his ephemeral senses to a razor’s edge, seeking that elusive state of clarity that Fichte and the German Idealists had described as higher intuition.

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