Russell James has been named “the Godfather of Noir” by Ian Rankin. Russell writes crime novels - about criminals and victims, not the cozy procedural or whodunnit. He is the editor of Great British Fictional Detectives.
You may think we’ve been before, and in a way we have – but not, perhaps, in Bangalore.
The weary, embattled police detective, the new recruit, the unsympathetic toady of a boss, the corruption, the serial killer … familiar as these may sound they become quite different in provincial India: more exotic, more extreme. This is not the tourist India (who, after all, goes to Bangalore?) and this top-rate Indian writer shows how it really is. (There is only one non-Indian character, and his is a small part.)
Among the thugs, extortionists, whores and transgender workers a cross-dressing killer picks off young men. The police (other than Inspector Gowda) are barely interested, and we get a fascinating introduction to the Indian police force – and to local politics, the Indian Mafia (not known by that name), sexual politics and life in a vibrant if often dangerous city.
The rich blend of colours, tastes and smells sweeps you along from Korma to Vindaloo as it were (though these Anglo-Indian variants are disdained here) and, with a hefty side-dish of goddess-worship too, you will be dining here on sumptuous fare.