Category Archives: Crime Fiction

Fiction Extract: LOVE TUNNEL By Les Edgerton

edgerton-genuine-imitation-plastic-kidnapping-300x450px(From my novel, THE GENUINE, IMITATION, PLASTIC KIDNAPPING from Down & Out Books) 

An hour later, Tommy and me are sitting on the St. Charles streetcar, at the stop by the zoo down by Club 4141, watching people get on in the front. The last two on are a young tourist couple in matching yellow Bermuda shorts.

“Cool,” Tommy said. “Tourists. They’ll have cash.” He took a drag from his cigarette. He was sitting directly under the “No Smoking” sign, but held it outside the window.

I didn’t disagree. There were maybe fifteen people on board, not counting us and the motorman. This was looking better and better. Might get as much as a couple of thousand out of this crew.

“See that?” Tommy said. I followed his eyes which were locked on the buxom female member of the tourist couple. She was a looker.

“Yeah? So?”

“So this.” He brought his forearm up, pretending to take a bite out of it.

“You wish,” I said, grinning.

“Yeah, well I got something her boyfriend ain’t.”

I laughed out loud. “Right, Tommy. Ugliness. But I think she’s maybe one of those weirdos goes for brains and looks. At least one of those.”

Tommy turned and gave me a look. “I’m talking technique here,” he said. “I got this technique.”

“Technique?”

“Technique.”

“What… you got a cute way of gettin’ on and off?”

“Naw, man,” he said, shaking his head like he can’t believe how dumb I am. “That’s like a big dick. Everybody’s got that.”

I snickered. “I don’t recall you was so blessed in the big wang department, Tommy.”

“Yeah, well I was cold that time. We just got out of the lake, for crissake. See, Pete, being a champion at sex is like being good at basketball. You got to be able to go strong to the hole.”

There was a young gal behind us who I could see was trying to ignore what Tommy was saying. She squirmed in her seat and studied the scenery out the window, them mansions sliding by.

I was dying to know Tommy’s ‘technique’ and asked him.

“I piss in ’em,” he said.

The gal behind us grabbed her purse and sniffed, loud, got up and moved three rows back to the last seat.

“Fuck you, lady,” Tommy muttered. “You don’t like the conversation, relocate.”

I couldn’t help smiling. “She did. What’s this pissing thing?”

I saw the street sign flash by. Coming up was where we planned to do our thing. The corner where St. Charles turned onto Carrollton, by the Camellia Grill. Three blocks from where we’d stashed Tommy’s Nova to make our getaway.

“Never mind,” I said. “Here it comes. You ready?”

“I was born ready,” Tommy said. He stood up and reached his hand into his waistband.

The gal who had relocated screamed out, “This man has a gun!”

Shit.

The streetcar went nuts. Pandemonium erupted—passengers screaming, brakes screeching as the conductor slammed the car to a half. Tommy lost his balance and recovered. The tourist woman in the front screamed one long banshee scream—Ayyyyeeeeeeeaaahhhh! She’s just one long scream, punctuated only by the times she has to draw breath.

Eeeeeeeeeaaaaaayaaaaah! Ayaayaaya! Aaaaaayaeeee!

“Shut up!” Tommy screamed. “Shut the fuck up!”

He looked down at me where I was just kind of sitting, pretty much in shock.

“You on a break here, Pete?”

I just gawked at him. This wasn’t what I’d envisioned. His eyes left mine and I followed his stare to the gal who’d blown the whistle on us in the rear seat. She had a gun out, trained on him with both hands, just like they do on TV. I couldn’t move. My entire life didn’t flash before my eyes, but about twenty-six years and three months of it did.

“I’m throwing up in my mouth, is what I’m doing,” I said. What had I got into?

“You’ll wanna brush your teeth before you kiss any girls, then,” he said.

Tommy brought his own gun up to bear on the woman in back, same two-handed grip she had. Mexican standoff.

He turned his head slightly down to me, still keeping his gaze on the woman. “Shoot her!” he said. This was just completely fucked.

“You got the gun, Captain Marvel,” I said, finally. “You shoot her.”

Instead of answering or shooting her, he began to back up toward the front door, his piece still trained on the woman. I got up to follow him. It got worse. Four people in the back pulled out weapons and pointed them our way.

“Shit! Shit, shit, shit!” It was all Tommy could say. My sentiments exactly.

I had to hand it to him, though. He didn’t lose it.

“Look, folks,” he said. “We’re gonna just get off now, leave all you good people be. Everybody just stay calm.”

One of the male armed passengers near the back door stood up. He said, “Like hell. I’m taking you out, cowboy.”

I felt like I was going to pass out.

The conductor opened the back door with his control and stood up. “Let ’em go,” he said. “I don’t want no blood in my car.”

The guy with the gun didn’t like what he was hearing. “Aw, man,” he said in a whiney voice. “You can’t just let criminals roam around. We got to take a stand. This is New Orleans, not Fucking-Pansy-Ass-New-York-City. We don’t take no prisoners in this town.”

“Listen, Dirty Harry,” the conductor said. “This is my streetcar. I make the rules. Siddown and shut up and let these folks pass.”

Tommy ran for the door and I was closer than his shadow behind him, leaping off a nanosecond after he did, scrambling as fast as we could across the street.

The mouthy man and the woman in back opened up with their pistolas. I didn’t turn back to look, just kept running as hard as I could, but I heard glass shattering, people screaming, and the pop-pop-pop of handguns. Something whizzed just past my ear and I was pretty sure it wasn’t a mosquito unless insects came in calibers. I ran smack into a braking car, bounced off the hood, got up and kept on running. My side was on fire. Any second now, I imagined a hot piece of lead finding my skull or some other tender part. The regrets were coming as fast as the bullets and I kept wondering like you do in such times of stress when it was evident that God had dropped my case and went off to take a nap or something.

Ten seconds from our failed streetcar heist and bullets still whizzing randomly, I followed Tommy as he ran around a house, heard the shots cease.

“Fuck this!” I said to Tommy, who’d slowed down to a trot once we were out of sight.

“No shit,” he said. “Who woulda figured the Marines would be on that streetcar?”

We kept jogging until we were three blocks away and saw Tommy’s car up the street where we’d left it. We got to the car which was a good thing. I couldn’t go another step. I leaned over, put my hands on my knees, panted like I’d just run the kickoff back a hundred yards for a touchdown. At least what I imagined that to feel like. Getting my wind back, I twisted my head up to look at Tommy. “You kidding me? A motherfucker without a gun in this town is about as rare as a rabbi in a Santa Claus suit.”

We heard the faint sound of sirens up on St. Charles. Getting louder. Sounded like they were starting to sweep the neighborhood.

We headed out to Veterans’ Highway and the second we turned onto it, a siren sounded at a distance, coming closer. Tommy looked at me and slowed down and my heart speeded up.

The cruiser passed us and the second he did, Tommy tipped the beer can he’d been drinking out of, drained it, and tossed it in his back seat, which was already littered with about two cases worth of aluminum cans. He speeded back up.

“Some Indian,” I said. “This car oughta be reported to Pollution Control.”

“You don’t like it?”

Before I could say anything, he braked for the light we’d come up on. He got out, opened the back door and swept a mass of debris onto the street with his arm. It made a pile of at least two feet high. He jumped back behind the wheel… and ran the still-red light. Cars honked.

What an asshole. “I gotta believe you’re outta the redskin union,” I said. “Chief Sitting-Bull… Bull-shit, that’s you.”

He flashed me a shit-eating grin.

“Screw you,” I said. “That’s the last job I pull with you.”

“Oh yeah? What about Sam the Bam.”

He was referring to the debt I owed my bookie. It was a nut-crusher.

“I’ll get it somehow,” I said.

“Right,” he said. “Your favorite aunt’s gonna leave you her Coke-Cola stocks, right?”

“What I’m gonna do is quit betting the fucking Saints and their lousy-ass quarterback.”

He was quiet for a minute, then said, “Pete, you know I got the plan to get us right.”

“Oh, yeah. That genius plan with the supermarket guy? That’s your much-better-than-robbing-a-streetcar plan, right?”

He didn’t have an answer for that.

There was no way in hell I was going to do his supermarket kidnap piece of shit plan. I’d figure out a way to keep Sam the Bam off my ass until I could come up with what I owed. I just had to figure out an angle.

We ended up going to this hole-in-the-wall bar Tommy could run a tap in. He was going to talk and I said I’d listen, but I knew I wouldn’t. I could use a beer, though.

****

We’re sitting in this dump, knocking back longnecks, staring at the TV where a Giants-Mets game is going on.

A good-looking hooker with a serious hard body, got up from the bar and passed us on her way out. Her ass was flat-out bouncing.

“Now, there’s one I could definitely piss in,” Tommy said. “You just know she’d freak. Probably wanna get married.”

“What the fuck’s up with this pissing thing?”

“You piss in ’em. In their . . . whaddya-callit . . . their vagina. Their love tunnel. While you’re doin’ it.”
“You what?”

“Yeah,” he said. Said it serious as a heart attack. “Nothing to it, really, but you know how many guys do that?”

“My guess would be zero,” I said. “Why would you want to?”

He looked at me and the look he gave me was that he was sitting across from the dumbest son-of-a-bitch he’d ever known. “It drives bitches crazy. It’s like the biggest nut they ever felt. You ain’t been around much, have you, Pete?”

“Jesus, Tommy! It can’t be done, dude.”

“Says who? I done it lots of times.”
“I’m telling you it’s impossible.”

“And why’s that, Mr. Encyclopedia Britannica?”

“Pressure.”

“Pressure?”

“Yeah, moron. Squeeze your cock sometime when you’re pissin’. Use the tips’a your thumb and forefinger. That should be enough.”

Tommy sighed, like the burden of talking to such a dumbass was wearing him out. “‘A woman’s pussy ain’t that tight,” he said.

I had to laugh. “Yeah, well, I guess you got an edge there most of us don’t, Penrod.” I shook my head. “You know, your brain waves is in a perpetual brown-out, Tommy.”

“Crack all you want,” he said. Then: “Forget that shit. What’re we gonna do about Sam the Bam, buddy? I’m into him too, you know.”

Jesus. Sam the Bam. I stared off into the distance. “All I ever wanted to do was open me a lousy po-boy shop. Maybe win fifty grand on the Series. Giants losing…”

LES EDGERTON’s memoir, ADRENALINE JUNKIE  is available for pre-order now!

Bullman The Bulldog by Paul D. Brazill

bullmanOne of British television’s great creations, George Bulman first appeared on the small screen in 1976, in Granada Television’s hard edged crime series, The XYY Man, based on the books by Kenneth Royce. The XYY Man in question was a cat burglar called Spider Scott who was trying to go straight but regularly ended up getting caught in the MI5’s grubby web.

Doggedly on Scott’s trail was the real star of the show, Detective Sergeant George Bulman, brilliantly played by Don Henderson. Bulman was gruff and eccentric: He always wore gloves. usually had a menthol inhaler stuffed up his nose, carried his things in a plastic supermarket carrier bag and endlessly quoted Shakespeare.

It was a good series, too, but Bulman owned the show and when it ended, after two series, it was logical that Bulman and his sidekick Willis (no, not THAT Willis ) were given their own spin off show, Strangers.

Strangers –with a brilliant jazzy theme tune – started off as a pretty good, straight ahead, cop show spiced up by Bulman’s oddball character. But as the series progressed it became quirkier and quirkier, finding its form in season three when the brilliant Mark ‘Taggart’ McManus became Bulman’s boss.

The last episode had Bulman going undercover in a jazz band and featured music by Tangerine Dream and Pigbag. And the title quoted Jean Cocteau ,‘With these gloves you can pass through mirrors’– and saw Bulman trying to ditch his OCD by taking off his gloves and buggering off with McManus’ wife.

And when Strangers ended, after five series, there was still no stopping Bulman, who returned to star in his own show, Bulman. He was now an unofficial private detective working out of an antique clock repair shop with a spiky Scottish sidekick, occasionally working for a dodgy government agency or Mark MacManus. Bulman’s eccentricity was even more to the forefront in this series and the stories were comfortably off the wall.

Here’s Bulman’s first appearance in The XYY Man.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UjKdl8wli7E&feature=related

This post first appeared at Pulp Metal Magazine.

 

Review: Welcome To HolyHell by Math Bird – Paul D. Brazill

welcome to holy hell

It’s 1976, and Britain is in the grip of an unbearable heatwave when Bowen leaves London to return to his home town in northeast Wales. As events spiral out of Bowen’s control, his old partner Nash follows his trail. Meanwhile, young Jay finds a briefcase stuffed with cash.

Math Bird’s Welcome To HolyHell is just fantastic. It has the sharp plotting of peak Elmore Leonard combined with the brooding lyrical atmosphere of James Lee Burke. The characters are all marvelously well-drawn and the sense of time and place is spot on. Welcome To HolyHell is a great slice of hardboiled crime fiction that is also moving and funny. A very strong contender for the best crime novel of 2018, I think.

Brit Grit On The Box by Paul D. Brazill

The Public EyeIt was announced a while ago that Acorn Media, who are the main distributor of British TV programming to North American consumers, had acquired a 64% stake in Agatha Christie Limited. This means that those delicate folk across the pond will have hours of Miss Marple and Poirot to nibble on while they wait for BBC’s latest incarnation of Sherlock or the Inspector Morse prequel, Endeavour.

In comparison to these, it looks like America is the true home of cutting edge, hard-boiled crime television, with series like Breaking Bad, Southland, The Shield, True Detective, Sons Of Anarchy and The Wire, while the United Kingdom, just knocks out frigid cozies with stuck-up, Latin quoting police detectives.

However, for over forty years British television has also looked at the country’s grubby underbelly and produced plenty of gritty crime writing.

While we may think of sixties and seventies British TV cops as sophisticated post James Bonds, Frank Marker-who  was played so brilliantly by Alfred Burke in the sixties television series Public Eyewas no Simon Templar, Jason King or John Steed, I can tell you.

Public Eye ran for 10 years – from 1965 to 1975- with almost 100 episodes and although I haven’t seen it since then I remember it quite well and very fondly. Public Eye, was true Brit Grit as Marker moved from a dingy office in London to another flea pit in Birminghamand eventually to Brighton, and I can still picture him walking along a wind and rain swept sea-front, looking like something from a Morrissey song.

Marker looked like a soggy mongrel, with a face so lived in that squatters wouldn’t stay there.  He was a walking hard luck story too, getting knocked about by the police as well as criminals and even being framed and sent to prison.

Not a lot of peace and love there, then.

The seventies was a time when music and film were doing some pretty ground breaking and experimental stuff and, in the UK at least, so was TV. The BBC’s Play For Today, for example, is looked back upon with dewy eyed reverence these days. And so it should be. There were plays by Dennis Potter (Blue Remembered Hills), Mike Leigh (Abigail’s Party), Alan Bleasdale, John Osborne.  Some of them were terrifying to the young mind- I still cringe when I remember the harrowing and brilliant Edna The Inebriated Woman. Others were hilarious –Rumpole Of The Baily, which spawned the television series.

And some were rock hard.

I was 13 in 1975, when Philip Martin’s controversial Gangsters aired, and it was great. Gangsters was true Brit Grit television. Set in Birmingham, it was a multicultural crime story about illegal immigrants and corrupt politicians. And I loved it. There was a violence, swearing, nudity! What more could you want?

The next day at school everyone was talking about it. The subsequent media furore only added to the buzz.

Gangsters was such a success it was made into a series with theme music from the prog rock band Greenslade. It told the story of Kline, played by super-craggy Maurice Colborn, ex SAS, fresh out of prison and trying to go straight. And failing. By season two, the series really took a turn for the mental, though. The title sequence now had blues singer Chris Farlow belting out the theme song and looked like something from a low budget Kung Fu film.

Indeed, it went down such a weird path that it even had writer Philip Martin regularly appearing as himself and dictating scenes to a typist. And later he appeared as The White Devil, a hit man dressed as W C Fields (a role originally intended for the comedian  Les Dawson!) who eventually killed Kline.

Gangsters, which had started off as a hard hitting social realist crime drama , ended fantastically with the characters walking off the set, shots of the writers literally tossing away the script and a ‘That’s All Folks’ caption appearing on screen.

‘Daft!’ said my sister in law, who watched it with me. And she was right, I suppose, but then ‘daft’ isn’t always a bad thing, is it?

In one play and the two seasons of Gangsters there were drug addicts, hit men, sleazy night clubs, triads, murders, racist comedians, the CIA, strippers and all manner of urban rough and tumble. And W C Fields.

And on to the nineties.

Cracker was a Granada TV series that was created by the writer Jimmy McGovern which ran from 1993- 1995. A mere two years, yet it made a great impact  in that short time.(Okay, there was also a  fine Hong Kong set special in 1996 -and another in 2006,which I didn’t see.)

The star of the show was Scottish comedy actor Robbie Coltrane, who was previously best known for a cracking- see what I did then? – performance in the BBC’s version of John Byrne’s Tuttie Fruttie and for throwing a chair through a pub window.

Coltrane played Fitz,a brilliant, hard-drinking, heavy – smoking, bad- tempered criminal psychologist who worked as an assistant to the Manchester Police Force. “I drink too much, I smoke too much, I gamble too much. I am too much.” Top man.

CRACKER! AT PULP METAL MAGAZINE!Coltrane was mesmerizing. The stories were gritty and twisty and moving -even when they pushed the boundaries of melodrama. The rest of the actors involved were spot on too; in particular Christopher Ecclestone as the young detective learning more about life’s underbelly than he wanted. And Robert Carlyle was super impressive as the bitter, disillusioned Albie in the amazingly intense story ‘To Be A Somebody.’

Later, there was a watered-down U.S. version with Robert Pastorelli as Fitz. Pastorelli is a good enough actor but it really was a decaffeinated version of the original.

One of British television’s great creations, George Bulman first appeared on the small screen in 1976, in Granada Television’s hard edged crime series, The XYY Man, based on the books by Kenneth Royce. The XYY Man in question was a cat burglar called Spider Scott who was trying to go straight but regularly ended up getting caught in the MI5’s grubby web.

Doggedly on Scott’s trail was the real star of the show, Detective Sergeant George Bulman, brilliantly played by Don Henderson. Bulman was gruff and eccentric: He always wore gloves. usually had a menthol inhaler stuffed up his nose, carried his things in a plastic supermarket carrier bag and endlessly quoted Shakespeare.

It was a good series, too, but Bulman owned the show and when it ended, after two series, it was logical that Bulman and his sidekick Willis (no, not THAT Willis ) were given their own spin off show, Strangers.

Strangers –with a brilliant jazzy theme tune – started off as a pretty good, straight ahead, cop show spiced up by Bulman’s oddball character. But as the series progressed it became quirkier and quirkier, finding its form in season three when the brilliant Mark ‘Taggart’ McManus became Bulman’s boss.

The last episode had Bulman going undercover in a jazz band and featured music by Tangerine Dream and Pigbag. And the title quoted Jean Cocteau ,‘With these gloves you can pass through mirrors’- and saw Bulman trying to ditch his OCD by taking off his gloves and buggering off with McManus’ wife.

And when Strangers ended, after five series, there was still no stopping Bulman, who returned to star in his own show, Bulman. He was now an unofficial private detective working out of an antique clock repair shop with a spiky Scottish sidekick, occasionally working for a dodgy government agency or Mark MacManus. Bulman’s eccentricity was even more to the forefront in this series and the stories were comfortably off the wall.

I’ve heard from doctors that they can’t watch hospital series like ER and Casualty because of the medical inauthenticity of some scenes. Policeman surely say the same thing about the CSI franchise (okay EVERYONE says the same thing about CSI Miami). Dinner-ladies probably thought the same thing about Victoria Wood’s classic comedy series dinnerladies, for all I know.

But these glitches don’t bother me of, course. I find it easy to immerse myself in a story. Most of the time. Except, there was one scene in this cracking British television series,  that jarred.

But first of all, the SP on Whitechapel.

Whitechapel was a British crime series about a rough and ready bunch of veteran East End coppers, headed by D S Ray Miles (the ever brilliant Phil Davis) and played some familiar and tasty character actors.

Well, all goes pear shaped (see how I’m getting into the lingo?) when they get a new boss, D I Joseph Chandler (played by Rupert Penry- Jones). Chandler is a fast-tracker who they think has walked into the job through having the right connections. And is he also very, very posh – a full-on blue blooded toff, even. Invariably, he doesn’t fit in with the rest of the team and clashes with Miles more than somewhat.

And things get worse when Chandler calls in a batty Ripperologist, Edward Buchan ( a top turn from the League Of Gentlemen’s Steve Pemberton) to help in his first high-profile case – a Jack The Ripper copycat.

This Whitechapel first two-parter was great fun- full of Gothic atmosphere, blood and gore, quirkiness, black humour and genuine chills.

The series was a great success and it was deservedly recommissioned. But how do you follow the Ripper story if you want to use the same copycat killer idea again?

That’s right- you bring back The Kray Twins.

1 1 1 1 a a a a aWhitechapel-tvseriesWhitechapel’s second most famous killers come back as ghosts seeking REVENGE and go on the rampage. Or do they?

Not a bad set up, but this story didn’t seem to have the same bite as the Ripper story. And Buchan is not only a Ripperologist but an expert on the Krays? Mmmm …

They also used some weird CGI to make one actor look like both twins. And they got the location of a famous East End boozer wrong! Everyone knows that The Grave Maurice was in Whitechapel Road but they said it was Commercial Road. And the pub that they used as a stand in for the presumably defunct Grave Maurice, looked nothing like it. Still it was enjoyable enough tale, had its tense moments and some nice East End locations and atmosphere.

But where do you go in season three if you want to follow the same formula?

Well, you don’t have any other Whitechapel killers as famous as Jack The Ripper and The Kray Twins, so they did a sensible thing and focused on murders that echoed obscure and less well-known East End killings. And some chillers there were too, including a locked-room-mystery and fun reference to Lon Chaney. Also, this and later seasons were split into three separate two-part stories which worked really well.

So, a cracking fun series with nice chemistry between the cast, funny, quirky moments, suspense and gore, and some smashing, ripping yarns.

And since then? Well we’ve had Luther, Top Boy, Happy Valley and the splendid Scott & Bailey. Also, Howard Linskey’s cracking Geordie gangster novel The Drop is being adapted for television by none other than J J Connolly of Layer Cake fame. And let’s hope we can find a new generation of crime writers to put some more Brit Grit back on the box.

(Bits of this have previously appeared in the Noircon 2014 program, at Sabotage Times and Pulp Metal Magazine)

 

Out by Paul D. Brazill

OUTIn the 1978 TV series OUT, poker-faced Tom Bell plays Frank Ross, a gangster who is sent to prison for robbery after someone grasses him up. Eight years later, Ross leaves the slammer and is confronted with a London that has changed and people that have changed.

Instead of stitching back together his relationships, however, Frank is focused on tracking down whoever stitched him up.  OUT – written by the late Trevor Preston – is great, gritty stuff and it’s a real period piece too- no mobile phones!

There are some great performances, particularly from Bell and Brian Cox as the psychopathic gangster McGrath, but there are loads of top turns from the likes of John Junkin, Victoria Fairbrother, and Peter Blake.

There’s also a very cool credit sequence with a cracking George Fenton theme tune.

And you can watch OUT for nowt on You Tube, if you’re that way inclined.

Kolkata as a location for crime fiction by Kalyan Lahiri

Darj14Kolkata, or erstwhile Calcutta, the capital city of West Bengal, once the centre of the British Empire, has a very rich tradition of Bengali crime fiction. It could perhaps be described as the centre of Indian crime fiction.

The tradition of Bengali crime fiction in Kolkata began as early as 1892 with the creation of the series ‘Darogar Daptar’ (The Police Inspector’s Office) by Priyonath Mukhopadhyay, a retired policeman. Soon after came Panchkori De’s foreign sleuths in a Kolkata setting and Dinendra Kumar Roy’s very popular English detective in Kolkata, Robert Blake.  Dr. Nihar Ranjan Gupta, a UK trained doctor, who had met Agatha Christie once, created another very popular detective, the stylish and rational Kiriti Roy.

But the genre really gained widespread popularity with the creation of Byomkesh Bakshi, by Sharadindu Bandyopadhyaya. Essentially a native of Kolkata, most of his exploits too were based in the city. Sharadindu’s Byomkesh stories, spanning as it did a turbulent period of Kolkata’s and India’s history, from 1932 to 1970, – the Second World War, the freedom movement, independence and partition – had an underlying, veiled commentary on Kolkata’s social and political milieu of the times, though never obtrusive. And though his themes were often very adult, his detective led a very ordinary middle-class life. Byomkesh stories have been made, and are still being made, into television serials and films in both Bengali and Hindi. The earliest was ‘Chiriakhana’ (The Zoo), directed by Satyajit Ray and starring Bengal’s then matinee idol, Uttam Kumar, as Byomkesh.

During the sixties there was a rash of penny dreadfuls, the most popular being Swapankumar’s creation of Dipak Roy and his sidekick Ratanlal. These were more in the style of noir crime thrillers, but based in Kolkata.

In 1965 Satyajit Ray created his fictional detective, Feluda. Though written as children’s stories, Feluda, or Prodosh Chandra Mitter, through the thirty five stories written between ’65 and ‘95, occupies a very large part of the Bengali psyche and is synonymous with detective fiction in Bengali. Feluda lived in Kolkata, as did Ray, and the city figured largely in most of the stories. Ray made two of the stories into films: ‘Sonar Kella’ (The Golden Fortress) and ‘Joy Baba Felunath’ (The Elephant God). He made short films of some of the other stories and now his son, Sandip Ray, has been making Feluda films.

kolkataconundrumBengal has a very rich tradition of literary fiction and it speaks volumes about the popularity of the detective fiction genre that most established authors also tried their hand at detective fiction.

Yet, at the Kolkata Literary Meet in 2014, panellists at a seminar on detective fiction rued that no new detective stories have been written in the last twenty years. Films were still being made based on Feluda or Byomkesh stories. But in today’s world of the internet and mobile phones these stories were stretching credulity too far. So, perhaps, ‘The Kolkata Conundrum’ is finally a step in the right direction and Orko Deb will join the pantheon of Kiriti Roy, Robert Blake, Byomkesh and Feluda.