Writing a crime fiction novel is an exciting process, as the writer’s imagination sets the momentum and churns out the mystery. Crime writing is layered with whodunits, motives, deception, murder weapons and complex timelines. Writing crime-fiction against the backdrop of a complex Indian society can often prove to be a tricky affair. Even the most seasoned writers occasionally find themselves lost amidst the complex layers that are essential to produce the story into a compelling read. Fortunately, there’s a myriad of unputdownable crime fiction written, perhaps, to add a pleasantly unexpected twist to your novel writing journey! If you’ve found yourself stuck in a rut with your work-in-progress, here’s a list of 8 Indian crime fiction novels to inspire you. Brew a fresh cup of coffee, grab a pen and settle in to take notes from these cleverly crafted crime fiction novels.
Set in 1921 in Bombay, A Murder on Malabar Hill revolves around Perveen Mistry, who is set on her path to becoming one of the first female lawyers in India. She comes from a family of lawyers and has just joined her father’s law firm where she comes across something strange in the ongoing Farid case. As a whirlwind of romance takes the center stage in her personal life and she contemplates discontinuing her attempt to enter the male-dominated world of law, a murder is committed in the Farid household. Determined to find out whether the secluded widows of Mr. Omar Farid are being taken advantage of and to solve the murder, she begins an investigation. Inspired by the story of a pioneering female lawyer Cornelia Sorabji, the novel is the perfect source of inspiration to create a powerful female detective against the complexities of Indian society.
Abir Mukherjee’s A Rising Man takes you through the bylanes of Calcutta in the sweltering summer heat. The first book in the Captain Sam Wyndham series finds him investigating the murder of a British civil servant – Alexander MacAuley. Wyndham, who has barely had a chance to recuperate from his experiences of the Great War and the loss of his wife, is taken to the dark affairs of the British Raj in India. Accompanied by his colleagues – Inspector Digby, who bears a strong contempt for natives and Sargeant Banerjee – he travels to across the cities luxurious and shady lanes to investigate the murder. A must-read if you wish to write flawless historical crime fiction, with tight timelines and everyday details that immediately transport the reader back to Calcutta of the early 1900s.
Ruskin Bond’s The Perfect Murder is the go-to book for admirers of well-written stories of the crime-fiction genre. Packed with only the strangest of mysteries and suspenseful crimes, written by authors like Arthur Conan Doyle, Edgar Allen Poe and Ruskin Bond, this book is the ideal template for creating the perfect hook. Each of these seasoned and renowned authors of some of the best crime fiction in history have written nail-biting stories that won’t let you put this book down!
When Vedika moves to a luxurious gated community in the suburbs of Mumbai, she has no idea what’s in store for her behind its idyllic exteriors. Over time, she notices suspicious behaviour amongst the children of the society. Their fogginess and inability to follow simple instructions become a cause of concern for her. She schedules an appointment with a doctor but before she gets him checked up, he dies in a freak accident. It isn’t hidden from Vedika that her son was murdered and in an attempt to uncover the truth behind her son’s death, she begins an investigation. This investigation implores and unravels the veiled secrets of her society, Fantasia and her neighbours and leads her back to fragments from her past. This gripping story, written by Brinda S. Narayan, is the go-to book for understanding character development for crime fiction writing.
Just as Vagh Pratap Singh aka Captain is ready to retire from his illustrious career as a conman, he’s hired for the con of a lifetime. Udham Kumar, a crooked politician from Uttar Pradesh, commissions him to track down and steal Poppy Flowers, a Vincent van Gogh painting. This assignment quickly starts shaping up as Captain’s biggest con job but it won’t be an easy one. The painting, smuggled into India after it went missing from a museum in Egypt in 2010, is now in the possession of a dangerous gangster. Trapped in the web of greed, power and money, his path keeps getting more treacherous as he moves closer to his goal. Vish Dhamija has cleverly illustrated the political warfare of money and power against the background of crime in this book.
A tale enveloped in violence, betrayal, friendship, lust, money and the dark realities of the seemingly modern city of Mumbai, Vikram Chandra’s Sacred Games is an inspiration for all crime fiction revolving around gangs. Based around the downtrodden personal life of Inspector Sartaj Singh, the novel brings him face to face with India’s most wanted criminal, Ganesh Gaitonde. After meeting a dead-end in both his career and his marriage, Sartaj Singh is determined to prove himself by solving this case. The investigation takes unexpected twists and turns, ultimately leading him to greater realities about himself and the political game amiss in the underworld.
When ageing and wheelchair-bound Bhaskar Fernandez invites his daily to the remote Greybrooke Manor in the misty Nilgiris, he does so with caution. This mansion has played host to deaths, stands alone in a valley and is said to be haunted by the ghost of an Englishman. However, what concerns Bhaskar more than any of these things is the knowledge that his family is waiting for him to die to regain the family fortune. In an attempt to protect his fortune in case of foul play, he writes two wills. Only one of these wills will be legally binding considering the circumstances of his demise. RV Raman has carefully tied delicate layers of family affairs and seemingly stringent details in this book, A Will To Kill. It’s an inspiring tale of family rivalries and secrets that come together to form a great read.
Smita Bhattachara’s Kiss of Salt is a must-read for writers seeking to write amateur detective fiction for young adults. The story revolves around the life of Darya Nandkarni, a young and spirited girl who becomes an accidental detective. When her uncle’s death under bizarre circumstances takes her back to Heliconia Lane in South Goa, the same place where her Aunt Farideh disappeared 20 years ago, she wonders if the deaths are connected. The death of two other neighbours on the same street causes her curiosity to pique and she goes on a little adventure of her own to investigate the matter. The mysterious turn of events alongside an intimate glance into her life against the backdrop of South Goa makes this book a satisfactory read.