Aditya Deshmukh’s short story Plastic Nightmare reads more like a prelude to a novel than anything else. It certainly ended on a cliffhanger, and Deshmukh even states that there will be a sequel.
I really felt like the author didn’t give himself enough room to develop the situation or the characters.
Five years ago, police officer Razia lost her brother. To the rest of the world, it was a tragic accident, but accidents don’t happen in their future utopia. The result is that she has increasingly become obsessed with his disappearance, letting her career begin a long, downward spiral.
Her main foil seems to be her lover and her boss on the police force (not a good combination), and when what appears to be a serial murder impossibly occurs in a world with practically no crime, Razia starts making connections between the so-called “Scarlet Killer” and her brother’s vanishing.
With no one on the force willing to help her, she pursues the clues on her own, eventually falling into a trap, but then it’s worse than that. She discovers that, in order to save her life, her lover betrays her in the worst of all possible ways. On top of that, she finally realizes the true identity of the killer.
I’m not sure how police conduct investigations in Deshmukh’s native India, but my understanding is that you don’t go into a potentially dangerous situation without backup. If your life is dependent on a battery operated device, you probably should also carry a spare. And you definitely need to be packing a gun.
As I mentioned before, “Plastic Nightmare” is more an appetizer. Of course many fine novels have started out as short stories. The author might be well advised to create several such vignettes, and then string them together to form a more complete narrative.
Becoming more versed in police procedures would also help out.