These are independent reviews of the products mentioned, but TIME receives a commission when purchases are made through affiliate links at no additional cost to the purchaser.

It’s not often that you stumble upon a mystery narrated—and investigated—by a grade schooler. Even less common is such a tale as masterfully wrought as the 2020 novel Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line. Jai, age 9, lives in a basti, a slum-like settlement, near the end of Delhi’s purple metro line, and loves reality police shows. He joins forces with Pari, a bookworm, and Faiz, a hard worker, to explore what, exactly, happened to their missing classmate. But then other children start to disappear, and the story grows darker. With great care, author Deepa Anappara intersperses chapters told from the perspectives of the missing children.

It’s based on a chilling true story: as many as 180 children go missing in India each day. Before writing her debut novel, Anappara spent years working as a journalist and learning about the disappearances firsthand. For its crucial yet overlooked subject matter and jewel-like prose, Djinn Patrol received widespread praise, winning the 2021 Edgar Award for Best Novel. —Laura Zornosa

Buy Now: Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line on Bookshop | Amazon

More Must-Reads From TIME

Contact us at

Devil in a Blue Dress
The Secret History
The Honjin Murders
My Sister, the Serial Killer
Gone Girl
5 stories