As a journalist on the crime beat, the author has spent long hours talking to those in uniform, those in the underworld and those in the grey zone – people who work as police informers. Much of what he has seen, heard and observed in over a decade of covering crime has found its way into print. But there’s a lot that’s spoken of in hushed tones, or buried in underworld lore. The underworld speaks its own language, and words are invented on the spur of the moment. A shooter is referred to as an “artist”, an informer is simply “zero dial”, Dubai is “Delhi”, while arrest is “get admitted”. Most of these are aimed at sending the police or adversaries on a wild goose chase. It’s a world that thrives on the spirit of enterprise, actively courts power and danger, and has conquered fear. The rules are straight and the ethics sacrosanct. The principles of ‘dhanda’ apply equally here – risk, profit and competition are at the very core. An informer will think nothing of selling precious information on a rival if it can earn him extra bucks or goodwill from the police.