New Delhi: Mumbai-based Shantadevi, once a meek woman disowned by her husband, soon sat atop a colossal drug empire she built over decades. Her real-life story opens the new thriller "Queens of Crime" where Sushant Singh, host of crime-based TV series "Savdhaan India", and his co-author Kulpreet Yadav decipher what sends women down the road of crime.
Asked if women, who generally tend to make headlines for being victims and survivors of crimes, are seen with a less suspicious eye, Yadav answered in the affirmative.
"There's a tendency for criminals to push desperate and poor women into crime because the police are less likely to suspect them," Yadav, who served two decades with the Navy, told IANS in an email interview.
"Investigating agencies usually don't suspect women to commit crimes. But, that has changed in the recent past. Almost all the women in this book committed crimes for three reasons: abject poverty forced upon them due to family problems (husbands or lovers), or greed, or lack of attention/love."
A criminal bent of mind is not the monopoly of men, added his co-author Singh.
The television and film actor also said that when a woman decides to do away with the social constructs of being dependent on men, "just like in every other field, she could outdo men in crimes as well".
"Queens of Crimes", a Penguin title that releases on May 24, features "raw, violent and seemingly unbelievable" but true renditions of India's 10 women criminals. As per the authors, it is based on deep research -- offline and online reports, court judgments, meetings with policemen and legal experts.
While the book shows women to be susceptible to the same vices as male criminals, Yadav chipped in to highlight subtle differences in how the two genders commit crimes.
"Like women, even as criminals, are less aggressive. Most of the crimes, therefore, when committed by women, are well thought-out, not instinctive," the co-author, who has earlier penned "Murder in Paharganj" and "The Girl Who Loved a Spy" said.
He added that these stories are rare exceptions.
For Singh, the book drew immensely from his experience of hosting "Savdhaan India" TV serial for over seven years. In his words, it gave him a "new perspective towards crimes, criminals, victims and the larger social impact of every crime".
The actor's message with his debut book? "Crime is almost always a choice."
Interestingly, "Queens of Crime" also draws attention to a lesser-known study field - female criminology.
While experts are still trying to understand why women commit crimes and how are they different than men in their motivations, methodology and implementation, the book presents 10 hair-raising thrilling stories where women criminals take centre stage.