AS book backdrops, it would appear that Bombay/ Mumbai has come of age, for certainly it would appear that more and more authors have discovered it as a good city to place their plots.
Perhaps this is because the sheer vibrancy, the decibel levels and the immediacy in which people live here has something to do with it. That, plus the literary leeway lent to all plots by the potential for Kafkaesque black comedy that Mumbai constantly throws up. You can wake up in the morning, a completely law-abiding citizens, and by nightfall find yourself in jail, locked up with the scum of the earth, just because a policeman decided he did not like your face. And we kid you not.
Books set in Mumbai we have in plenty, but now it is also the Mumbai police that seems to have a fascination for writers. In any anthology of short stories about the city and its many moods, at least one will feature an interaction with the police.
Why are we writing this? Because it has been drawn to our attention that an editor with National Public Radio based in Washington DC, Krishnadev Calamur, has come out with Murder in Mumbai, “an engrossing murder mystery set in the heart of the new India.”
The gist is: “Mumbai, India: a city of beauty and squalor, old and new, wealth and poverty, honest work and deep corruption… and inevitable target of scandal and condemnation if Inspector Vijay Gaikwad doesn’t solve the murder of American businesswoman Liz Barton, and quickly. Just as invested is newspaper reporter Jay Ganesh, looking for the one big story to repair his once-prestigious reputation. Both men soon discover, however, that the case is as difficult to navigate as Mumbai’s infamous traffic.”
Okay, it may not be madly original, with a theme that is fairly ghisa-pita, but we are looking forward to reading it, not least because it comes in ebook form as part of the re-launch of Dutton Guilt-Edged Mysteries in dedicated digital format. And when you realize that none other than “noir” icon Mickey Spillane was a part of the original program, then you realize that Calamur is going to be in very good company indeed.
One more thing wewould like to point out. Notice that books about Mumbai cops are always about the small fry, seldom above inspectors?
Lovers of hard-boiled detective fiction will remember H.R.F. Keating’s Inspector Ghote of The Perfect Murder. Then in the 1990’s, there was Freny Olbrich’s Inspector Desouza mysteries. And now there is yet another Inspector to add to the set. Maybe because the IPS no longer bears scrutiny.