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Logic, Logistics and Ideology of Crime


Nivedita Sen

THE ALL BENGALI CRIME DETECTIVES
By Suparna Chatterjee
Rupa & Co., New Delhi, 2011, pp. 180, Rs. 150.00

SHADOW MEN
By Bijoya Sawian
Penguin Books India  and Zubaan Books, New Delhi, 2010, pp. 159, Rs. 199.00

VOLUME XXXVI NUMBER 12 DECEMBER 2012

A crime is committed in both the novels and both unearth who committed it with what motive, but one of them is not a detective novel at all. In both instances, however, the person/s who get involved in tracking down the criminal and cracking the case are unconventional and certainly not professional detectives. In the crime thriller by Suparna Chatterjee, four retired men who are invited to a neighbour's house for tea get very interested in the whodunit because they were present at the scene when the crime sup-posedly took place and because it serves as an amusing pastime for elderly people. Being past their prime, they no longer feel very useful within a dynamic community full of fast action or in the world of practical affairs and this is an outlet with exciting possibilities for them. This very cleverly conceptualized variation in the crime story gets the ball rolling and gives the novel its punch and humour. In the other novel by Bijoya Sawian, the narrator, staying as a guest in a house which is located in a setting filled with wistful reminiscences of her childhood, witnesses some unusual goings-on and then hears of the crime. It causes her to suspect the people she had observed from her window. Thereafter, finding herself amidst such shady happenings, she, a mere outisider, plunges headlong into solving the crime to satiate her own idealistic instinct to not let any criminals go undetected. Suparna Chatterjee is self-confessedly a fan of Enid Blyton, Agatha Christie and Satyajit Ray 'who planted in (her) a burning desire to be a sleuth. (She) followed their path and did the next best thing'—started writing crime fiction. Surprisingly, she has not men-tioned Arthur Conan Doyle, whose Sherlock Holmes was a role model for Satyajit Ray's Feluda, among this galaxy of crime writers. The old men in The All Bengali Crime Detec-tives wonder at the how, why and who of the unfortunate incident that has made it to the newspapers and finally start brainstorming, providing inputs to one another about how, for instance, a certain point in the chronology of events sounds false, how something could be interpreted in an original manner or how so and so gave the game the game away by an indiscreet statement or move. But a la Enid Blyton's Five Find-outers, one of the amateur sleuths, who is best endowed with detective brains ...


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