Crime isn't always punishment: Boom in titles shows this genre of fiction is only growing

Even though we are just a month and a half into the new year, the recent boom in Indian crime fiction seems set to continue unabated. Lovers of murder and mayhem stories have a lot to look forward to over the next few weeks, from scintillating historical mysteries to neo-noir potboilers and innovative urban thrillers. Here are a few books to watch out for:

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The Matsya Curse by Shweta Taneja

Released late last year, Taneja’s supernatural detective Anantya Tantrist is back for her second adventure. This time around, she must fend off a dark cabal bent on controlling the world through human sacrifice and unearthly possession, all while trying to stay awake because an ancient demon takes over her mind each time she falls asleep. Combining mythology with irreverent humor, The Matsya Curse is certain to please fans of urban fantasy, especially those who enjoy Jim Butcher and Kevin Hearne.

A Closetful of Skeletons by Tanushree Podder

This is Tanushree Podder’s sixth book and her first foray into mystery fiction. In a small, unnamed hill station, Romola, an aging film star, now lives a quiet life in relative obscurity. Until one day, when she decides to host a party on her 40th birthday to announce her memoir, in which she promises to expose the seamy underbelly of the film industry. As the evening progresses, we learn of her past relationships with a variety of men, all of whom are guests at the party, and all of whom have something to lose if her memoir is published. And when Romola is found dead, it falls upon her neighbour, Colonel Arjun Acharya, to deduce which of these obvious suspects is her killer. An elegant, enjoyable mystery reminiscent of Margery Allingham at her best.

Race Course Road by Seema Goswami

Veteran journalist Goswami weaves a compelling political thriller set around the Prime Minister's residence in New Delhi. When the sitting PM is assassinated, even as the police struggle to find his murderer, what follows is a bitter battle for succession within his family, with the elder son and heir, Karan Pratap Singh, trying to hold onto power and fend off his charismatic sibling Asha. As atmospheric and acerbic as House of Cards and Scandal, Goswami manages to do a stellar job of guiding her readers through the twisted, convoluted lanes of Delhi's political landscape.

The Miss India Murders by Gauri Sinh

In 1995, on the eve of the Miss India Pageant, a contestant is murdered at the end of the final dress rehearsal. One of the other participants, Akruti Rai, sets out to unravel who the killer is, but can she do it in time, or will the contest be ruined? A nail-biting, suspense-filled page-turner, packed full of gasps and twists and gossip.

Kashmirnama by Karan Anshuman

Filmmaker Karan Anshuman, renowned for the cricket drama Inside Edge, weaves a tightly plotted thriller set against the picturesque backdrop of contemporary Kashmir. NSG Squad Commander Vikram Rathore is sent on a dangerous undercover mission to Pakistan. What he doesn’t realise is that he is a pawn in a vast conspiracy that could shatter the fragile accord between both nations and irrevocably impact a billion lives. A clever, cinematic political adventure that is perfect for fans of Robert Ludlum and Dan Brown.

The Tandoor Murder by Maxwell Pereira

In The Tandoor Murder, retired cop Maxwell Periera reveals the truth behind the infamous Tandoor Murders that shook Delhi in 2005. Based on his personal involvement as the lead investigator assigned to the most grisly of cases, he gives us an insider's perspective of how the events played out, beginning with the discovery of Naina Sahni's charred corpse in a popular restaurant’s oven and culminating in the prosecution of her husband, MP Sushil Sharma, almost a decade later. Written in a candid, unpretentious style reminiscent of Capote and Mailer, The Tandoor Murder is a page turner that is part police procedural, and partially an indictment of India's crippled justice system. A must read for all fans of true crime.

Murder on Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey

Massey, acclaimed for her Rei Shimura series, debuts a new detective, Perveen Mistry. Set in 1920s Bombay and based partially on the real life adventures of Cornelia Sorabji, Perveen is Bombay’s first and only female lawyer. She is hired to execute the will of a wealthy mill tycoon, and becomes suspicious when his three widows stand to be disinherited. Putting her own life at peril, she sets out to investigate if they are being taken advantage of, only to become embroiled in a complicated web of fraud, avarice and murder. Beautifully written, Murder on Malabar Hill heralds the arrival of a compelling feminist detective and is a worthy addition to the burgeoning canon of Indian historical mystery fiction.

Death at the Durbar by Arjun Gaind

Last but certainly not the least, Arjun Raj Gaind returns with a new Maharaja mystery, Death at the Durbar. It is December 1911 and Maharaja Sikander Singh is in Delhi, attending George V's Coronation Durbar. Just as his boredom is about to peak, a nautch girl is found strangled in the Imperial Camp. Sikander is tasked by the Viceroy with cornering the killer before scandal can erupt and ruin the Durbar. Meticulously researched and elegantly composed, Death at the Durbar is sure to keep aficionados of both history and mystery entertained, right to the very last page.

Read the first, second and third excerpt from the first chapter of Death at the Durbar on Firstpost


Updated Date: Feb 24, 2018 14:41 PM

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