This story comes from the brilliant Blaft Anthology of Tamil Pulp Fiction I picked up in India earlier this year. Tamil Nadu has a long history of publishing pulp novels and short stories that are traditionally sold at train stations and newsagents across the state (I suppose in a slightly similar fashion to the old Penny Dreadfuls). Tamil writing, much like its cinema, has a unique style and approach and is a fascinating, vital part of south Indian culture. This story from Subha (aka two school friends Suresh and Balakrishnan who, since 1983, have co-authored around 550 short novels, 50 longer novels serialised in magazines and more than 400 short stories – phew!), is a classic – featuring their long running characters Narendran and Vaijayanthi of Eagle Eye Detective Agency. It explores corruption and religion in state politics and power, via slapstick and crime noir. I love the setting and the set up, and it reminds me of the many trips I have taken to south India in the last fifteen years. I’m not going to pretend you should read all Subha’s work, as that would take you a lifetime, but if you’re going to read one story, this is it.
Collected in the Blaft Anthology of Tamil Pulp Fiction, Blaft, 2008