Kauveramma loved life. She was terrified of water. So why was her body found floating gruesomely, hair fanned out, limbs outspread, in the well of the family compound? Her sons, daughter, grandchildren some of them resident, others far-flung, assemble at her death with expressions ranging from composed or confused to those of outright maniacal grief. Things don’t quite fit and one of them demands an investigation into the mysterious drowning.
Enter a policeman, Inspector Valmiki Nagarajan and a charming rogue, Hamid Pasha. The latter is an elderly Muslim and a reformed criminal who spouts ghazals, has exquisite manners and it’s clear he’s the brains of the two. He and the policeman regard each other with reluctant admiration and gruff affection. They have been on opposite sides of the law and clashed in the past and that has formed an unstated bond. The duo interrogates each member of the family and staff in turn, unearthing secrets of their past and calculating the degrees of their love, hatred or loyalty to Kauveramma and each other. As it happens, everyone had something to gain from Kauveramma’s banishment from their lives.