Local surgeon and humanitarian to release debut psychological thriller novel ‘Animal’

Munish Batra

Rancho Santa Fe resident Munish Batra is preparing for the Jan. 5 release of his debut novel, “Animal,” about a suspected serial killer who targets people who have harmed innocent animals.

Batra, who has a plastic surgery practice in Del Mar, said he wanted to use the story to call attention to animal cruelty issues that take place all around the world. He also wanted to make readers think about whether a killer’s actions are ever justifiable, if there’s an underlying ethical intent.

Book cover
The cover of “Animal”

“I think that’s the main object of this book, for people to understand that we’re killing sentient beings,” he said. “These creatures have consciousness, they have fear, they experience pain.”

Batra collaborated with Keith R.A. DeCandido, a writer of many novels, short stories, comics and other works.

In “Animal,” two murders committed at a meatpacking plant by someone wearing a cow mask and another murder at a waterpark by someone in an orca mask are under investigation by Interpol agent An Chang. Batra said the story is meant to “bring to light how we treat animals and treat these creatures, but also to bring to light that someone should be out there protecting them.”

The acts of animal cruelty depicted in “Animal” are based on real-life instances, such as using gorilla hands as ash trays and unethical training methods used on orcas.

“I think anyone who really loves animals really abhors some of the mistreatment that they receive,” he added.

Batra said the book was inspired in part by a trip to China, where he saw a grisly display of dogs hanging on display in a marketplace. He added that he no longer eats meat, except fish occasionally. He and his family, including a 7-year-old son who has taken a particular interest in the treatment of animals, likes to explore their animal-free dietary options. They also like to donate to charities that fight animal cruelty issues.

With his plastic surgery practice and young children at home, Batra set aside some time to write early in the morning and late at night for two years. He started out creating an outline, which became the basis for a movie adaptation that has been optioned by Lonetree Entertainment. Batra, who considered writing before deciding on plastic surgery, also said he has other books in the works.

A portion of proceeds from sales of “Animal” (WordFire Press), which is available for preorder, are going to the San Diego Humane Society and other animal funds and sanctuaries. For more information, visit

Originally from India, Batra moved with his family to the United States in 1972. His cosmetic practice is one of the busiest in the nation, according to a news release, and he has been featured in many national media outlets, as well as on The Oprah Winfrey Show. His focus is on “developing multispecialty medical practices that put patient care and the doctor-patient relationship at the center of health care,” the news release stated. Batra and his wife, Pooja, have three children.