Saturday, November 28, 2015

How do sellers make a profit, selling at low cost and offering free shipping on ebay?

A colleague of mine has been buying cheap jewelry and accessories such a cellphone covers  from Hong Kong on ebay with FREE SHIPPING. For example, she's bought earrings for 21 cents (Canadian cents), 79 cents, etc. The products have been delivered and she's happy with them.

I simply cannot understand how the seller could make a profit on these sales  when shipping to Canada, whether from outside Canada or even inside Canada is so expensive.  

I hope to understand this mystery. One skeptic said that she is giving away her credit card information for 21 cents worth of  jewelry but my friend does not feel worried about her credit card information being misused. 

I hope someone would explain how free shipping  is feasible for the sellers.

Economics is such a mystery to me and this is one of the puzzles which I cant get it out of my mind !

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

WHY I DONT ENJOY INDIAN CRIME FICTION.


Is crime fiction set in India unenjoyable as it's too close to home for me? Yes. 

 But as one sentence, does not an article make, even if covers, all that one wants to say,  I will be writing  a little bit  more than one sentence!


For reasons I myself do not fully understand, I can’t bring myself to read crime fiction set in India. I am trying to explore my mind and find out why. I am an Indian and lived in India almost all my life and know India pretty well. I know about real crime in India as much as a middle class, urban lady leading a relatively safe and protected life would know.



I am now trying to analyze why the hell I can’t bear the thought of reading crime fiction set in India and these are the reasons I come up with. Maybe the true reasons are buried in my unconscious and some psychologically gifted reader may have to dredge it out of the unconscious for me!
· Being Indian, I know the full extent of crime and corruption in India. In most crime fiction, there is justice at the end and even if it is poetic justice, I find it believable and therefore I feel satisfied when I read.

Knowing that 99% of the Police in India are corrupt, that the Justice system is excruciatingly slow and rotten to some extent, I am skeptical when I think of crime (even if it is fiction) set in India. The concept of a realistic but rosy ending to an Indian crime story where the villain is found and punished seems impossible even in fiction. Let me explain why.

I love fiction but it has to appear plausible or probable to me; and to even conceptualize about crimes being solved or the criminals getting their just desserts seems unreal in India....It is not that the crimes are so complex or the criminals are so terribly intelligent that it is impossible to solve crimes. The reasons the crimes are not solved and justice not got in India is because of corruption in the Police and the lack of interest of the police to solve crimes or book criminals.

To some extent, the lack of training, the low calibre of people who make up the police force, the poor pay scales of the policemen, the need to pay a huge bribe to get employed in the police force are all factors contributing to poor caliber  policemen . Various social & psychological factors in India such as inequality, castism, people's fear of getting involved in anything, etc. are other factors contributing to crime against people in India. Various offences are not even recognized to be criminal by the perpetrators, the victims, the general public or the people. For example, giving and taking bribes is so common that no one blinks an eye when it happens. People have become so accustomed to so many types of offences, that they just take it in their stride and do not object, let along complain to the police.

I have come across so many types of abuse in India where no one tries to stop it, protest, help the victim. So many women are molested in public, for example on buses, trains or streets but the people just watch or look away or some even enjoy watching the abuse! Rarely does someone try to stop it, protest or help the victim. In a country, where so many crimes and offences happen and people are indifferent, it is impossible for me to even imagine a heroic figure, fighting crime!

Reading about the crimes happening in India, daily, on the internet, I feel depressed, helpless and frustrated. The crimes against women, against children, against the Dalits in various parts of India wears me down. I hurriedly avoid items such as’ tiger killed in reserve’ or ‘elephant electrocuted’ as I find these items even more disturbing (e.g. killing of wild animals by poachers or villagers who are angered by wild animals which destroy their crops). The wide range and humungous quantity of crimes is so appalling. To think of a crime fighter against these overwhelming odds, seems impossible, implausible, improbable...take your pick!

I do know that in most cases in India, there is no justice for the victims especially if they belong to the poorer classes. In India, the victims are often further victimized by the police. The criminals commit crime with impunity; the police look away or are hand-in-glove with the criminals. It is 'stretching credibility' to even think of criminals getting punished and victims getting justice. So I cannot enjoy Indian crime fiction knowing fully well that there is no justice except between the covers of fiction books. It is simply impossible for me to suspend disbelief, even for the duration of reading the Indian crime fiction book.
One example to illustrate the above point is :There are millions of women of lower castes, rural areas, illiterate who work for the upper castes in states such as Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, etc. These women are routinely abused and various crimes committed against them. Even if a few are foolishly optimistic enough to dare to complain to the police, the police will never ever take action against the upper class, upper caste goons. Instead these women may be further subjected to humiliation or worse, some more abuse in the police station itself!


One frequently heard set of true stories in India is about some poor soul dragged to the police station and accused of a crime and punished while the real criminal is out there! This is done for various reasons such as the police need to show they have solved a crime or they want to punish a person for some reason. So I am always skeptical when I hear of a crime being solved or a criminal being caught. Often, people belonging to certain communities or religions or castes are victimized in this way by the police. Knowing this, how can I enjoy Indian crime fiction? I know for a fact that women especially Muslim women, Hindu women of lower castes, and the poor and all people of lower castes would never ever go to a police station to complain....especially in rural areas where the police force is much worse. The police treat them worse than the criminals against whom they want to complain. To me, at least 50% of the Indian police are criminals in uniform, with greater power than the criminals.

· Once while talking to the wife of a 'rich' police officer, I commented on corruption in the police. She said, when others are making money, what is wrong if her husband makes money? Interacting with the wives and children of these 'well-to-do' police officers, I realized that the wives and children never question or confront the corrupt police man. They are silent. They enjoy the benefits of his corruption i.e. a lavish lifestyle, getting into good universities with his money or influence, getting into elite clubs, etc. The double standards in their families are interesting... The children of the family are not supposed to lie to their parents, steal, bunk classes etc. However, the corrupt police officer that is the adult family member, does all the things the children are not supposed to do …..at work, he takes bribes, is brutal, is unfair, intimidates, breaks rules, etc.

· Just looking at the affluence of the police officers which are in contrast to the actual salaries they earn, I perceive them as criminals than as crime fighters.

· The few times I have confronted corrupt people about their corruption, they smoothly explain, how they are actually doing a service, how they are less corrupt when compared to others, how much they have helped people (helping their relatives and friends using their contacts), how everyone is corrupt and how insane he would look if he behaved differently!

· One remarkable thing in India.... The honest people appear embarrassed and awkward in parties and get-togethers as if they are the freaks while the corrupt are able to socialize smoothly! The honest cannot afford to give expensive presents  at parties and have not helped relatives and friends using their influence....so the sense of self-consciousness & discomfort at parties. On the other hand, the corrupt in India who are utterly shameless, are cheerful, gregarious and boisterous in parties! 

There is an unexplored gold-mine  for researchers of psychology, sociology, political science, economics, etc   if they want to understand the  behaviour of honest people in India. It is simply impossible for honest decent people in India to be socially adept.

  Many people are either corrupt or worship the corrupt as they are 'successful' or are ignorant that a person is corrupt. If an honest person  is aware that a person he is dealing with is corrupt, he has to be so detached and mature and socially skillful to deal with the corrupt person in a manner where he does not yield to corruption and also be polite and not be abused. Very very few people have such social skills and self-confidence unfortunately. 

With so much privatization in India, post 1980s, I assume that there is less corruption in the private companies. But who knows? The corrupt government expects bribes from all private companies who expect to run in India and so there is some corruption when they are forced to bribe the government officials and they they have to make up for that expenditure somehow!

· When 99% are corrupt, the 1% who are honest, are the exceptions i.e." abnormal". If the criteria for normality is "Normal behaviour is the behaviour shown by majority of people", then, in India, the few who are honest are the freaks or mad or abnormal!

One major issue in India is that many crimes are NOT recognized as crimes even by the police! The attitudes towards many criminal behaviours are  typically  ignorant, patriarchial, retarded and illiterate! when a woman complains to the police (or anyone) that she is beaten severely by he husband, they will not 'take her complaint' but advise her to 'get along ' with him and send her back. I will add more examples to this later. Giving and taking bribes is another thing not considered as criminal behaviour but instead considered as a 'norm' by many people in India. 

· The Indian personality types I have come across are not like the crime fiction personalities I know and admire. I admire the heroes of the western crime fiction books I read.... I do know that these fictitious personalities are so interesting because they are fictitious and not real. Yet, at the time I am reading the book, they feel so real; I can suspend my 'disbelief ' and cry when they are hurt and feel happy when they are happy!

· I think the childhood life and upbringing and life styles of most Indians makes them develop personalities, not cut out to be the dashing heroes of crime fiction. To me, all Indians are so deeply trained to obey elders, respect their parents, that as adults, they end up being obedient rather than dashing, heroic and adventurous! Also the value system in India, the strong family ties, the presence of extended families, makes me think of an Indian as a domesticated person with an entangled family life than a hero fighting crime to save the world! Can there ever be an Indian "Lone Ranger"? Of course not! Every Indian has at least 3 dozen relatives.....except maybe orphans in orphanages.

· I can easily visualize an Indian detective who is struggling to cope with the bickering between his wife and mother, struggling to get a job, get a house and a car, get his kids educated and get his daughters married ; But I simply cannot visualize an Indian hero who will follow criminals, catch them red-handed and fight them using his muscles.

· Physically too I can only conjure up a puny, short Indian or a pot-bellied one than a James Bond type with muscles and brains!I find the characters in the western fiction extremely attractive . The fact that many are single or have a girl friend or boy friend or are having affairs with beautiful exciting people makes the reading exciting. Rarely is a crime fiction hero/heroine in American or European books married. An Indian private detective or police officer, who is single or having a girl friend or boy friend or an affair is implausible/impossible! And if like most real-life Indians, they are respectably married then they do not seem exciting !

Post 2000, I am discovering that many Indians have become body and health conscious. There are many gyms opening and a lot of the urban people are exercising, etc. Care of physical health and looks was not so widespread before the 90s. So with people, more looks and health conscious now, I assume, we can look forward to 'fitter' Indian detectives in crime fiction too!

· It is impossible for me to conjure up a realistic, exciting heroic Indian character solving crimes. The nearest I can think of an exciting heroic person is possibly Amitabh Bachan in an old movie called Zanjeer....That is not even a book but a movie.

· I do not see traits of gallantry in Indian men.... I have seen simply too many Indian men elbowing women to get seats in buses; seen men striding ahead empty-handed while their wives walk behind them carrying heavy grocery bags and maybe a kid too; So if I even read of a fictional Indian hero who is gallant, I will not believe!

· Lots of (Indian)people I know are superstitious and fear a whole range of people and things and it is impossible to imagine them as heroic. In my mind, an Indian crime fighter will probably go back home and have a cleansing bath if a black cat crosses his path when he is chasing a fleeing robber!

· In India, I have seen a majority of the people intimidated by those in power(in India, even a government office clerk has 'power' i.e. power to make your life miserable by not doing his i.e. your paperwork and slowing your file). I have seen simply too many people being polite and submissive to corrupt people in the government offices to get their work done; I have seen too many people tolerate injustice as fighting it will cause them more problems;How can anyone expect heroic crime fighting traits in this environment? People may curse these guys but will give in anyway. When my uncle refused to give a bribe to an inspector, he did not get permission to do the electrical work in his building for months! Can you imagine the impact of this delay on the construction work, the costs, and a hundred different things? Even highly educated professionals such as professors, doctors, engineers, give bribes to get their work done...no one has the guts to protest corruption. So, how can one develop the guts to fight crime in this culture???

· Living in this Indian society, will simply crush several fighting qualities in people. And growing up in this society since childhood, the crushing is systematic and complete, especially if one is born in the less fortunate sections of society such as the lower castes, rural areas, being born as female or being born 'in some way different' than most, in some really backward and feudal areas such as Madhya Pradesh, Upper Pradesh, Jharkand, Bihar, etc. In the worst states of India, children who are brave, grow up to be criminals rather than upright moral adults as the culture they grow up in enables growth of criminal mentality than an honest one...I know the patriotic Indians who read this will be furious but let them go and look at what is happening in these wretched states

· I think any heroic traits Indians are born with will be fully crushed before we reach the age of 30 in Indian society. There is a pervasive apathy, a pervasive lack of trust and respect for the system, a chronic cynicism, near-constant wariness (and so many other ' survival behaviours' than' healthy behaviours') in most people all the time. The only ones who are fearless are those in positions of power. But I have seen even these aggressive assertive powerful people, grovel when they need something! For example I know of a powerful, politically connected doctor, grovel before an extremely rude school principal to get his kid into a 'good school'; he was boiling with rage within at the principal's rudeness but did not protest...he did not want to jeopardise his son's chances of getting into this school ! I have seen powerful ministers grovel before the high command of their political party or even before the so called "Gurus" or "Swamis" like Sai Baba.

· After seeing this over and over again in India, my brain absolutely refuses to accept the concept of a heroic detective or policeman fighting crime in India ! Growing in Indian society, all the good traits seem to be crushed out along the way.



The personality traits I have observed in most of my fellow countrymen are the antithesis of what a crime fiction detective or hero would have. Also the value system in India where the wrong traits and behaviours are glorified, valued and accepted and the really good traits are neither recognized nor respected makes it difficult for me to accept an Indian crime fiction hero. For example a person who stands up against corruption and therefore faces a lot of hurdles is considered as 'crazy' while a person who is street smart and greases palms to get things done is considered as smart. With this kind of a value system, what kind of a heroic crime fighter can India produce?

· One more thing I have noticed is that choice of a career in fighting crime is not the choice of majority of youth. Youth are pursuing other choices which seem to offer money without risks. Till now I know of just one kid who wanted to join the army and believe it or not, his family thought he was crazy to want this and dragged him in for counselling! Of course, I have seen many youth from army backgrounds (fathers in the armed forces) wanting to join the military or other such adventurous careers but these are few. Most youth today seem to be in pursuit of things other than adventure...at least what I consider as adventurous.
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I think Indian literature, other than crime fiction are wonderful to read. I have greatly enjoyed Indian tales depicting pathos, unrequitted love, sacrifices and tragedies caused by fate. I have loved the gentle humor of R.K.Laxman's cartoons and the delightful cartoons of Mario Miranda. I have enjoyed the fantastic short stories by countless Indian authors which appeared in the now extinct magazine i.e. The Illustrated Weekly of India and another (sort-of-porn) magazine of the 80s called Debonair. I am so sorry that though I loved these stories I cannot remember the name of even one of these short story writers! I have also  enjoyed the wonderful love stories set in India which are equal to or better than Romeo and Juliet. Heer Ranja, Prithviraj Chauhan and Sanyogta, Radha & Krishna, Shakuntala &Dushyanta, Salim & Anarkali,Shahjahan and Mumtaz, are unforgettable love stories. I love reading the epic mythological stories of the Mahabharatha and Ramayana. The characters in Mahabharatha are fantastic with all their virtues and frailties! I loved the Amar Chitra Katha comics about various Indian kings, mythological figures, freedom fighters, etc. I loved the illustrations too especially the covers!  I have enjoyed reading the realistic and wonderful novels of R.K.Narayan. I loved the short stories and dramas of Tagore and moved to tears when I read them.

But Indians as crime fiction heroes is something impossible for my mind to accept....I do not see the Indian personality as an ideal crime fighting figure. These sort of questions come to my mind when I think of an Indian crime fighting hero…..How can you be a tough guy when you are also  obeying daily your parents commands? How can you fight crime when you yourself are forced to give bribes in government offices to get simple things done; What will you do with the drug dealer you nabbed? When he has the entire police station in his pocket…. What will you do when you finally discover the guy stealing vehicles…if he turns out to be the son of a politician? How will you fight crime when half the crimes are committed by goons of politicians and you are intimidated into letting them go free?What is the point in a courageous & honest policeman putting a politician's hired goonda  in jail when the goonda receives VIP treatment in jail after intimidating the  sycophantic jail staff...the jailed goonda gets cellphones, television, alcohol and chicken biryani, and possibly prostitutes too... INSIDE THE JAIL!!!


I am now going to actively look out for crime fiction set in India and try to discover some good books and get back to this article. I would love to discover some Indian crime fighter out there either real or fictional, whom I find believable and fall in love with.
 I know that in the last few years, the number of English novels written and published in India has increased tremendously. But I am not sure how much of it is crime fiction and how many of them are really good.
I am adding this line March 2016: I recently read the book Cut like wound by Anita Nair. It is a crime fiction set in Bangalore and it has captured the reality of cime and corruption in Bangalore and yet has a believable hero!! To my utter delight he is a Gowda too! ( I belong to the  Gowda caste) I am so happy that there are crime fiction books from India, that too, Bangalore, my home town, that too with Gowda protoganists !!! Yippe!
 I humbly take  back what I said about 'not enjoying crime fiction set in India' after reading Nair's book

After writing the above, I thought a lot and find that three authors whom I admire have written crime fiction books which I really enjoyed. They are set in countries which are known for problems similar to India's and societies as (dare I say) pathological as India's. These are books set in Russia's Moscow i.e. by Stuart Kaminsky and Martin Cruz Smith and books by Zoe Ferraris set in Saudi Arabia's Riyadh. Thinking about these books, the crime fighters in these books, I can now believe it is possible for India to have a crime fighter who is plausible. We already have Vishu Puri, private investigator in Delhi, a delightful character created by Tarquin Hall. Who knows? Maybe, more such crime fighting characters, both plausible and probable may be created in future, to delight Indian and other readers.


Reading over what I have written again, I recall, that I have come across many people in India, who are honest, brave, kind, generous, gentle and non-corruptible, in the face of heavy odds. These are people, whose 'progress' in life has been painfully slow due to their values. They have not budged from their chosen paths in spite of their families pushing them to take the easy path. Recalling these people, I now think that it is possible for my dream Indian crime fighter(.... like the western characters whom I like) to exist!

I also want the readers to think about the fact that to be 'good' in a society like current day Indian society is infinitely harder than being good in a society like Canada's. In India, the overwhelming corruption one sees daily in all corners of society, the daily hassles, the daily struggle, the lack of so many basic facilities, the fight amongst many for a few resources, the poverty, etc rapidly erodes the good decent qualities in majority of the people.

Which brings to my mind, an Indian saying which says that the beautiful and sacred lotus can only grow in filth, and it cannot grow in clean waters. Similarly, maybe, some people who are growing in a society such as India's, which is full of dirt and obstacles, may end up with strength & beauty...like the lotus. The dirt and difficulties may be instrumental in making at least some people better and stronger.

Many real and fictional crime fighters (and other 'good' people too) were born and brought up in dirty and difficult situations and this only made them stronger rather than crush them or corrupt them. So maybe, the Indian society may have the same effect and some lotus may sprout here too!

And talking of a crime fighter who rose above difficult situations, there is one I recall i.e. Modesty Blaise.I would take my hat off to the person who creates a real or fictional Indian Modesty Blaise! That would be, as my little sister puts it, "awesome"!

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The Indian crime fiction  I have read:

 Bahadur comics (read them as a kid in the 70s and 80s). I remember enjoying them but not as much as Phantom comics(by Lee Falk) I read at the same time. I thought that the Bahadur comics were sort of copied from the ‘foreign’ comics. Bahadur’s girl friend whose name I don’t remember definitely did not have Indian features. Either the person who drew her sketches did not get the bone structure right or the girl friend of Bahadur was supposed to be a ‘foreign’ lady, I am not sure.

The Inspector Ghote series by H.R.F. Keating. These are written by a foreigner but set in India. I find the language too stilted and not much fun to read.

I remember reading the Shuja and Daboo comics in the Kannada weekly magazine called Sudha. The comics were in Kannada and though I hated reading in Kannada, I read them. I remember enjoying them a lot and Shuja seems to be a copy of Tarzan comics to me. Even here, the lady’s features were not Indian nor was her clothing. I enjoyed the Daboo comics a lot which was like crime with science fiction. I cannot remember the authors of these comics and would like to know their names if any of you who read this blog know. If anyone out there has made cuttings of these strips from the Sudha magazines, I would be happy to buy it from them.

I also enjoyed Tarquin Hall’s 4 books featuring Vish Puri a Private detective, Delhi based and a retired army officer with a set of hilarious helpers. But these books did not have me on the edge of my seat like Chase or Peter O’Donnell.

I have tried to read Vikram Chandra’s Sacred Games recently but am having difficulty getting through it. It is well written and interesting but the size seems to be keeping me from reading it. Spoiler alert : The stuff in red below gives away a story.

 I read 2 crime novels set in India i.e. ''Six suspects by Vikas Swarup and Aravind Adiga's 'Last man in tower'. These two books accurately reflect crime in India. Aravind Adiga's novel is both extremely real and stunning! Stunning because one sees how ordinary middle class 'respectable' people are capable of crime as heinous as murder. They not only commit but get away with it! When I read, Last man in the tower, I was so depressed...I always was proud of the fact that the middleclass people, 'will somehow or the other' manage to hang on to their morals as they are not as desperate as the starving poor; but reading this book, one realizes that even the middle-class will commit heinous crimes.

Aravind Adiga's 'The white tiger' too depicts with realism, the crimes in Bangalore and India.

No heroes whom I like in these three books mentioned above! I think why I dislike or disbelieve crime fiction from India boils down to two reasons: Morality is disappearing in India and it’s impossible to believe that there are people who are both moral & crime-fighters; the second reason is that survival is becoming impossible without compromising morality or ethics to some extent. Ergo, if someone writes typical crime fiction with the good guy winning, it seems unbelievable and so you don’t like the story.

I have read and enjoyed the comics and books of crime fiction written by Sathyajit Ray. Though they are not my favorite, I think the comics (Feluda series) are the best Indian crime fiction I have read. Both the drawings and the plot were good. I discovered Sathyajit Ray’s crime fiction only recently on the internet in Canada; I bought the books in a recent visit to Bangalore at Crosswords.

I read a book called Delhi Noir i.e. short stories about crime in Delhi. It was an exciting book to read and realistic. However, I did not get the satisfaction I crave for i.e. the satisfaction one feels when the villain is punished and the good person is saved. In this book, the criminals more often than not, got away with their crimes! And I think, this is the most important reason, why I do not enjoy crime fiction from India. The reality is that the bad guy wins in India, 99% of the time . So I cannot enjoy crime fiction if it is realistic ; and I also cannot suspend my disbelief when the good guy wins!

In India, crimes of all sorts are rampant and crimes often go unchecked and unpunished; People have become blase about crime.

And 99% of the police are corrupt and so any book with a honest heroic police officer is BS and I unbelievable;




Apart from the books mentioned above, I cannot recall reading, crime fiction written by Indians or set in India. I remember reading a monthly English magazine about crime in India called 'Crime & Detective ‘with the most lurid photos on the cover with 'true' crime stories. This magazine’s atrocious language & grammar; the lurid photos and atrocious crimes were repugnant but also drew me! The writers also had their own unique' moral of the story', definitions of crime, their own unique perspective about laws and ethics! I gave up reading after a while as I found the crimes too disturbing and the language in this mag was terrible.

If you go to these weblinks given below, you will see others views about this magazine. But the best thing one can do is buy this magazine and read it to know first hand, how terrible it is!




This last link has a photo/comic strip about a crime and the literal translations from Hindi to English are hilarious. You can also see the weird stereotypes the writer has of men & women and city & rural people!

During my next visit to India, I am planning to buy these magazines...the sheer absurdity of the language and views of the writers, the stories, the over-the-top photos, the literal translations of Hindi idioms and phrases will help me pass time during the grey winter months in Canada!

I am going off topic but another entertainment from India would be reading the sex magazines available in shops at railway and bus stations in India. These are written and published by people who have no scientific knowledge about sex; these mags are full of misinformation and are hilarious to read. It is sad though, that many men and boys read these and get their information from these gold-mines of mis-information.(women and girls don’t dare buy these books in public). Reading the bill-boards of travelling hakims who sell potency drugs and other drugs to unsuspecting villagers is another form of entertainment in India. Of course, it is sad, but I cannot help laughing.(Now that I own a camera, I am planning to photograph their ads and put them up here !)

I have been told of a terrible television show in Hindi about crime called CID; It is supposed to be unsuitable for viewing due to the violent content, but yet seems to attract a wide audience. I think there is something about crime that attracts people! My friend’s teenage son watches this serial and she finds it disturbing to watch her son watching this show. But how can I console her? My aged dad enjoys watching this and when I ask him he defends saying that he can learn about the ways of criminals and be forewarned!
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India produces literature in many languages and in English; I read only English.(It is not that I am too snobbish to read Indian languages. I am very slow while reading Kannada novels and it is so painful to read at the speed of 10 minutes per page.... So I have given up reading in Kannada, the only Indian language I can read) As far as I know, there are more social novels ( I like to call them social novels as they are about social life in India) than crime fiction. There are many romantic novels, books about Indian society, sociology, anthropology and other subjects. I know that a lot of new writers in India are writing crime fiction these days and writing in English too.



Tuesday, November 24, 2015

CRIME FICTION SET IN INDIA



During my teen years i.e. late 70s and early 80s, there were few or no crime fiction in English by Indian writers. Even if there were crime fiction books written by Indians, in English, and available in India, I definitely didn't have access to them or even heard of them. There was no internet in those days and finding any information in Bangalore was a Herculean task! 
The first crime fiction set in India I can recall reading were the books by HRF Keating featuring Inspector Ghote.

I don't recall which books of Keating's Ghote series, I read but I do remember the movie The perfect murder, featuring Naseeruddin Shah and Rathna Pathak. I loved this movie! Below is a list of 26 crime books by HRF Keating, featuring Inspector Ghote and supposedly set in India . The amazing thing I learned from Wikipedia is that Keating visited India only after he had written a few Inspector Ghote novels!

The Perfect Murder 1964

Inspector Ghote's crusade 1966

Inspector Ghote caught in meshes 1967

Inspector Ghote hunts the peacocks1968

Inspector Ghote plays a joker 1969

Inspector Ghote breaks an eggo 1970

Inspector Ghote goes by train 1971

Inspector Ghote trusts the heart 1972

Bats fly up for Inspector Ghote 1974

Filmi, Filmi Inspector Ghote  1976

Inspector Ghote draws a line 1979

The murder of the Maharajh 1980

Go west, Inspector Ghote 1981

The Sheriff of Bombay 1984

Under a monsoon cloud 1986

The body in the billiard room1987

Dead on time 1988

The Iciest sin 1990

Inspector Ghote , his life and crimes (1989) short story collection

Cheating death 1992

Doing wrong 1993

Asking questions 1996

Bribery, corruption also 1999

Breaking and entering 2000

Inspector Ghote's first case 2008

A small case for Inspector Ghote 2009

(Please read another article in this blog, "Complete list of crime fiction set in india(almost complete)" 






I discovered, in Canada, (I immigrated in 2004) the crime fiction novels set in New Delhi, written by a British author settled in New Delhi i.e. Tarquin Hall the books featuring Vish Puri a retired army officer and now a private detective with a host of  interesting employees, a lovable mother and wife. I enjoyed these books as they were funny, yet depicted the ugliness (and beauty)of India realistically. I think it's a fantastic feat to be able to write a realistic crime novel set in India which is not depressing and which has a satisfactory ending! Maybe I am too pessimistic about India and feel absolutely hopeless regarding the ethics of Indians in India.

His books are:

The case of the missing servant 2008

The case of the man who died laughing 2010

The case of the deadly butter chicken 2012

The case of the love commandos 2013


Vish Puri mentions that several cases coming for private investigation were of families checking into a prospective bridegroom’s background…does he smoke or drink? Did he have a girl-friend in the past? Has he really studied engineering or did he lie when he came to see the girl? When I read this bit in Hall’s book, I realized that the job of a private investigator in India may not be 'adventurous' but can be  hilarious! He also mentions a case where the house owner hired the private detective  to find out  if his tenant was a pure vegetarian as he claimed or did he cook non-veg in the house!

Apparently another book in the series is to be published shortly.

Noirs: Recently read the book, Delhi Noir’ edited by Hirsh Sawney and published by Akashic Books. It’s a collection of 14 short stories (crime fiction set in Delhi) by different writers. The writing styles of all the authors was fast paced & excellent and I finished the book in a day. Being crime stories, they held my attention.......but the stories did  kill what little innocence/naiveté I had in me!



What turned my stomach the most were the two themes which recurred often that is betrayal of trust and corrupt cops (corrupt cops is actually just betrayal again).   I am not even sure if I really 'enjoyed' reading the book.  I was revulsed by the stories but could not put the book down!  I have visited Delhi years ago and I was deeply disgusted by the men's behaviour toward women  in public places such as buses. The stories in this noir rang true, and this made the stories even more appalling. Every one of the stories could actually be true!


For a few days, after finishing this book, Delhi seemed to be the worst place on this planet with nary a decent soul in it and I thought that I should never ever revisit ! Of course, I recovered from this deep sense of revulsion. Daily interactions with decent people of Toronto and seeing decent actions daily  restored my faith in humanity pretty soon.



I started but did not finish the book Sacred games by Vikram Chandra set in Modern Mumbai. It was well written but as I said earlier, Indian crime fiction is too close to home to me for comfort!



I read 3 crime novels set in India i.e.(1) ''Six suspects by Vikas Swarup; (2) Aravind Adiga's 'Last man in tower' and The white tiger. These three books accurately reflect crime in India. Aravind Adiga's novels are both extremely real and stunning! Stunning because one's idea that criminals are a different category and not 'ordinary'people' is dispelled. I did complete these books but I did not enjoy them as I enjoyed the Vish Puri series. I was depressed and horrified, even though the crime  in these Indian crime fiction books were not as terrible as  in the 'foreign' crime fiction I am addicted to!





I recently enjoyed Vaseem Khan's  The unexpected inheritance of Inspector Chopra. It's set in Bombay & is a delightful read. I look forward to reading the next in the series The perplexing theft of the jewel in the crown. Khan has not glossed over the ugliness in India such as corruption.  Yet, he has managed to make this is a pleasant, feel-good book and that is a miracle! 

My brain cannot conceive a crime fiction story set in India which is both realistic and 'feel-good'.....an Indian  crime fiction can be EITHER  realistic OR feel-good but CANNOT BE BOTH !


While looking up Vaseem Khan's book on amazon, I came across two books, authored by Brian Stoddart and set in colonial India. The reviews were great and I hope I can get my hands on these books some time. (Unfortunately, they are not in TPL and I dont want to buy!) The books are: The Madras Miasma and The Pallampur predicament.



And while looking up the reviews of Stoddart's books, I discovered another author who has written crime fiction set in colonial India i.e. Barbara Cleverly. If I remember right, I think, I did try a book of hers, but could not finish it. I should give her a try again. Her books set in colonial India are: 


The last Kashmiri rose

Ragtime in Simla

The Damascened blade

The palace tiger

Joe Sandilands is the chief protagonist in the 4 novels above. He continues to be in many other crime novels but the remaining novels are not set in India and so I am not listing them here. If I get round to reading these, I will speak of what I thought of these books.


Today, January 24th, 2016, for the first time ever (sooo late!) it crossed my mind to look up crime fiction from Karnataka and Bangalore my home state and town. Googling for crime fiction from Karnataka, I came across a single name i.e. N.Narasimhiah and read a write up about him in the Hindu, after his death(http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-karnataka/n-narasimhaiah-passes-away/article2748505.ece). I was depressed to see that, though he was an original crime fiction writer, he died in poverty and had difficulty paying for his medical bills! This reflects how unrewarding it is to be creative in countries like India! A crime fiction writer in any developed country would not die in poverty like in India! Who is responsible for this? The callous government who don't do enough to encourage the artists and the arts? The publishers who don't pay the writers, what they deserve? The readers for not reading locally written books? The writer himself for not being smart enough to survive the dog-eat-dog world of today?



I also discovered today (Jan 24th 2016) a crime fiction set in Bangalore, my home town! It's by Nilanjan P Choudhury and called 'The case of the secretive sister'. It's supposed to be funny and I am looking forward to reading it! I have to buy it on Amazon or wait till I go to India!



I read (March 2016) a crime fiction set in Bangalore, the city of my birth and where I lived for the first three decades of my life. It is Anita Nair's Cut like wound. And the best thing for me is that the hero is a Gowda like me! I never ever dreamt that one day, a  creative soul would create a Gowda detective hero and that readers all over the world would read about a Bore Gowda from Bangalore who eats ragi mudde and solves crimes!




Most Indians would have heard of the film maker Sathyajit Ray; However few outside Bengal would be aware that he has written crime fiction for children, both novels and comics. I discovered this aspect of Sathyajit Ray, only after I came to Canada and in my 40s! I then bought some of these books, when I visited Bangalore.  Sathyajit Ray created a character Feluda, who's a Calcutta based private detective. I did enjoy the few books and comics of Feluda which I read.(the list of Feluda books is in another article in this blog, titled, 'The complete list of crime fiction set in India...almost complete'.


I am looking forward to reading the short stories of Byomkesh Bakshi by Bengali writer Saradindu Bandyopadhyaya. Byomkesh is a detective and the stories are set in Calcutta. (Borrowing the book The Menagerie and other Byomkesh Bakshi mysteries from TPL) I will write my review after I read the stories featuring this famous fictional Calcutta dhoti-clad detective.


I would like to add a few other crime fiction comics, written for children in India, probably in the late 60s and 70s which I read as a child. These include Shooja and Daboo comics, which came in  Sudha, a Kannada magazine. I loved these comics! I also remember reading Bahadur comics, in English, published by Indrajal comics. The Shooja and Daboo comices had Kannada script (published as a serial in the Kannada magazine Sudha)while the Bahadur comics i read were in English. 


Today i.e. 26th November 2015, I discovered (I have been searching online for years!) that the author of the Bahadur comic published by Indrajal comics is Abid Surti,/Aabid Surti a man with several talents.
You can read about him in wikepedia(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abid_Surti)


Bharath Murthy, the author of The article An art without a tradition-A survey of Indian comics written by  published in Marg Magazine, Vol 61, No 2, December 2009  has said in this article that it is Aabid Surti who has created, in the 70s, the character Shuja, the Desi version of Tarzan  who became a beloved comic book character.


Yippee !My hours of persistence on Google finally paid off! I discovered today, (Nov 26th 2015) that Daboo, a favorite science-fiction/crime comic strip of my childhood, which was about  the adventures of a teenage boy and his professor friend in a Kannada weekly magazine called Sudha was written by a cartoonist called Pran Kumar Sharma.
To read more about this, you should  Google for the blog 'The world of silly boy', and look for the August 4th 2011 article, The adventure of Daboo

However, I still have my reservations about crime fiction set in India ; I have penned my thoughts in another article of mine in this blog, titled, 'Why I cannot read crime fiction set in India'.


WOMEN PROTAGONISTS IN CRIME FICTION

I have been thinking of compiling a list of crime fiction books where the chief or one of the main protagonists is female.
Here is a list of books with female detectives or police which I have read and enjoyed. This list will be updated as and when I recall any book I have read with a female or when I read them. There is no order to this list. I have written the names of books and authors as I recalled them.

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The eighth commandment by Lawrence Sanders, one of my favorite writers is another stand-alone novel  with a female protagonist.  I loved this humorous/realistic-ish/crime fiction  and read it a few times. It's set in the New York city of the 80s; I loved the female character Dunk and really admire the fact that Lawrence Sanders wrote as a female narrator and got it  'just right'!
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Zoe Ferraris an American writer married to a Saudi Arab man (and  divorced)  has written the following three crime novels set in Saudi Arabia. I liked these books as they are the only crime fiction novels set in Saudi Arabia I have come across ! It's so difficult to find books set in Saudi Arabia or any one of the Gulf countries while there are simply millions of crime fiction novels set in the USA or UK . One of the chief protagonists is a female ? Forensics scientist Katya Hijazi. I really appreciate the fact that this author has depicted the life in Saudi so realistically and the day to day concerns faced by women in this country. I really appreciate the fact that there is a female protagonist in this male dominant country, even if she is only fictional

Finding Nouf 2008
City of veils 2010
Kingdom of strangers 2012

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I have enjoyed the crime fiction set in  South Africa by Jassy Mackenzie.  The 4 books featuring the female PI  Jade De Jong are:

Pale horses
Random violence
The fallen
Stolen lives
Jade is a female PI in south Africa and I find that unusual! There is quite a bit of violence and sometimes, I felt,  South Africa was scarier to live in than  India! Jade is in love with a police officer who has some Indian blood in him and that is another exciting thing for me! ( I am so thrilled if there is an Indian in any crime fiction book as Indians don't seem to figure much in crime fiction books....though this  is changing now)

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I loved reading the three  crime fiction books set in Sweden, by Stieg Larrson featuring the wildly popular female protagonist, Kickass Lisbeth Salander.  I also enjoyed the fourth in the series featuring Lisbeth but written by a new writer, David Lagercrantz. I think, Lisbeth  is the favorite of millions of women and girls all over the world.

The girl with the dragon tattoo
The girl who played with fire
The girl who kicked the hornets nest This is one book I have reread a few times, especially the pages with the  court scenes.
The girl in the spider's web.

I saw the Swedish movie of the first book with English subtitles. I did not enjoy the movie! I think I am so used to the American movies that this Swedish movie, though, excellent, did not appeal to me. I missed the music/sound accompanying the scenes...in this Swedish movie, there was no music at all! the movie was so bleak, I dint enjoy it though the actors were so good.
 
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Michael Genelin's Commander Jana Matinova series are the only crime fiction books from Slovekia that I have read.

The books I read were:

Requiem for a gypsy
The magician's accomplice
Dark dreams and
Siren of the waters

I enjoyed these books as they were realistic and I got to see inside a country, I had hardly ever heard of . Though I live in Toronto, a city with people from all over the world, I have not yet met a Slovekian!

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I loved and thoroughly enjoyed the 17 crime fiction  books by Victoria Thompson set in the late 1800s in New York City where a mid-wife, Mrs.Sarah Brandt , is one of the two protagonists solving murders.   The other is Detective Frank Malloy.
The books with Sarah are:


Murder on Astor Place 1999
Murder at St. Mark's Place 2000

Murder on Gramercy Park 2001
Murder on Washington Square 2002
Murder on Mulberry bend 2003
Murder on Marble Row 2004
Murder on Lennox Hill 2005
Murder in Little Italy 2006
Murder in China Town 2007
Murder on Bank street 2008
Murder on Waverly Place 2009
Murder on Lexington Avenue 2010
Murder on Sister's Row 2011
Murder on 5th Avenue 2012
Murder in Chelsea 2013
Murder in Murray Hill 2014
Murder on Amsterdam Avenue 2015
Murder in Morningside Heights 2016

My only criticism of this series is that the writer has simplified her writing to a great extent and leaves nothing unsaid. But I forgive this as it's still a great read and gives me a great deal of information  about life in NYC in those days, the social problems of those days, life of ordinary people, their clothes, life of women in lower and upper classes, etc.
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I enjoyed the short stories featuring the female private investigator in Chicago i.e. V.I. Warshawski (Victoria Iphigenia Warshawski) by the  author Sarah Paretsky. Unfortunately I really did not enjoy all the longer crime fiction novels with Warshawski. For some reason, I had difficulty finishing them. Here is the complete list but I have  read only a few of them. I plan to read them all  some day.

The novels  with this female PI are

Indemnity Only 1982
Deadlock 1984
Killing orders 1985
Bitter medicine 1987
Bloodshot 1988
Burn marks 1990
Tunnel vision 1994
Hard time 1999
Total recall 2001
Blacklist2003
Fire sale 2005
Hardball 2009
Bodywork 2010
Breakdown 2012
Critical Mass 2013
Brush back 2015
Fall out 2017
Short stories collections of V.I.Warshawski
Windy city blues 1995
V.I.X2

What I liked about these books were the fact that she seems so real...she has financial problems, the people around her seem 'realistic', and she encounters  'male attitude' toward women like the rest of us and so on.

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Michael Robotham has written a stand-alone crime novel featuring a Sikh lady, Detective Constable Alisha Barba as the chief protagonist in the crime novel The night ferry. I chose to read this simply because it had a Sikh female as the chief protagonist and I loved the book! This is the first time I have ever read a novel with an Indian (origin) female as the chief hero in a crime fiction novel! It was fast paced and thrilling.

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Crime fiction set in China is another rare thing for me. I read one book and not sure if I enjoyed it(I don't remember now) but I do remember appreciating the fact that it was realistic, set in modern China and had a female PI! The book is Eye of the Jade by Diane Wei Liang. This author has fled China and lives in the west. The second book of this female PI is "Paper butterfly'.  I enjoyed this. It gave another perspective about the Tiananmen square massacre by the Chinese army  and information about life in Chinese prisons.

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The comics (graphic novels) and crime fiction novels by the British writer, Peter O Donnell, feature my all time favorite fictional female, Modesty Blaise. My all time favorite crime novels
feature Modesty Blaise!
The novels include:

1.Modesty Blaise 1965
2.Sabre-tooth 1966
3.I, Lucifer 1967
4.A taste for death 1969
5.The impossible virgin 1971
6.Pieces of Modesty 1972 (short stories)
7.The silver mistress 1973
8.Last day in limbo 1976
9.Dragon's claw 1978
10.The Xanadu talisman 1981
11.The night of the Morningstar 1982
12.Dead man's handle 1985
13.Cobra trap 1996



The  Modesty Blaise comics are listed below.
 These books listed here are the ones re-published by Titan books; each one weighs about half kg and each one consists of three stories. These strips have appeared in newspapers all over the world in many languages since 1960s. They are available for purchase on Amazon and currently i.e. 2015, cost between 9-15US$. They are available on other sites too such as ebay, but amazon seems to have all of them at any given point in time.

Below, I have listed the names of the Modesty Blaise graphic novels  published by Titan, followed by date of publication  and the names of the three stories in each comic collection.






1The Gabriel setup          Apr 1st 2004

  2 Mister Sun      Jul 1st 2004  Mister Sun, The Mind of Mrs. Drake & Uncle Happy

3Top Traitor            Oct 1st 2004 Top Traitor, The Vikings & The Head Girls

4The black pearl Feb 1st 2005 The black pearl, The Magnified Man, The Jericho Caper and The Killing Ground AKA (A most dangerous game)

5Bad Suki        May 1st 2005 Bad Suki, Galley Slaves and The Red Gryphon.

6The hell makers        Jul 1st 2005  The Hell Makers, Take Over, & The War-Lords of Phoenix.

7The green eyed monster                Oct 1st 2005 Willie the Djinn,The Green Eyed Monster and Death of a Jester

8The puppet master    Feb 1st 2006  The puppet master, The Stone Age Caper & With Love From Rufus

9The gallows bird Apr 1st 2006  The Bluebeard Affair,  The Gallows Bird, The Wicked Gnomes, The Iron God

10Cry Wolf    Nov 1st 2006  Take Me To Your Leader, The Highland Witch, & Cry Wolf

11The Inca trail  Jul 3rd 2007 The Reluctant Chaperon, The Greenwood Maid; Those About to Die, & The Inca Trail

12Death trap                        Nov 27th 2007 A death trap, The Vanishing Dollybirds, and  The Junk Men.

13Yellowstone booty   Jun 10th 2008     Yellowstone Booty, ‘Idaho George,  and  The Golden Frog.

14The green cobra                        Sep 16th 2008  Green Cobra, Eve & Adam & ‘Brethren of Blaise

15The ladykillers                 May 12th 2009  Dossier on Pluto, The Lady Killers & ‘Garvin’s Travels.

16The scarlet maiden           Nov 24th 2009  The Scarlet Maiden, The Moonman & A Few Flowers for the Colonel.

17Death in slow motion       Jun 1st 2010  The Balloonatic, Death in Slow Motion & The Alternative Man

18Sweet Caroline            Sept. 28 2010  Sweet Caroline, The Return of the Mammoth & Plato’s Republic

19The double agent              Jun 21st 2011 The Wild Boar, Kali’s Disciples & The Double Agent

20The million dollar game Sep 2011 Butch Cassidy Rides Again, Million Dollar Game & The Vampire of Malvescu

21Live bait                           Feb 4th 2012   Samantha and the Cherub, Milord & Live Bait.

22Lady in the dark                Nov 13 2012 The Girl from the Future, The Big Mole and Lady in the Dark.

23The girl in the iron mask      April 9th 2013  Fiona, Walkabout and The Girl In The Iron Mask

24The young mistress                June 24th 2014 The Young Mistress, Ivory Dancer and Our Friend Maude.

25The grim joker            Nov 18th 2014‘The Grim Joker’, ‘A Present for the Princess’ and ‘Black Queen’s Pawn

26The Killing distance            May 12th 2015  The Killing Distance, Guido The Jinx, and The Aristo.

27 The Ripper Jax                  March 1st  2016

28 The murder frame               November 1st 2016 .This book has 4 stories i.e.   The murder frame, Fraser's story, Tribute to the Pharoh and The special orders.
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Loyalty by Ingrid Thoft features a female PI Fina. I read this book but don't remember anything about it. I don't even remember if I finished it!

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One of my favorite series of crime fiction is the Donald Lam series set at time of world was in California by A.A.Fair AKA Erle Stanley Gardner. In this series, Bertha Cool, a middle aged lady is running a detective agency and hires Donald Lam who becomes the chief protagonist since the very first book. But I loved Bertha too, who was a PI, running this agency even before Donald came along! She is one unique character, not as bright as Lam, but strong, bold and irascible! The 29 books in this series are :

  1. The Bigger They Come (1939)
  2. Turn on the Heat (1940)
  3. Gold Comes in Bricks (1940)
  4. Spill the Jackpot! (1941)
  5. Double or Quits (1941)
  6. Owls Don't Blink (1942)
  7. Bats Fly at Dusk (1942)
  8. Cats Prowl at Night (1943)
  9. Give 'em the Ax (1944)
  10. Crows Can't Count (1946)
  11. Fools Die on Friday (1947)
  12. Bedrooms Have Windows (1949)
  13. Top of the Heap (1952)
  14. Some Women Won't Wait (1953)
  15. Beware the Curves (1956)
  16. You Can Die Laughing (1957)
  17. Some Slips Don't Show (1957)
  18. The Count of Nine (1958)
  19. Pass the Gravy (1959)
  20. Kept Women Can't Quit (1960)
  21. Bachelors Get Lonely (1961)
  22. Shills Can't Cash Chips (1961)
  23. Try Anything Once (1962)
  24. Fish or Cut Bait (1963)
  25. Up for Grabs (1964)
  26. Cut Thin to Win (1965)
  27. Widows Wear Weeds (1966)
  28. Traps Need Fresh Bait (1967)
  29. All Grass isn't Green (1970)
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How could I forget the world famous Miss. Marple, created by Agatha Christi! I have read the novels and short stories featuring this lady and enjoyed them, especially the short stories.

The murder at the vicarage 1930

The body in the library 1942

A murder is announced 1950

They do it with mirrors or Murder with mirrors 1952

A pocket full of rye 1953

4.50 from Paddington or What Mrs.McGillicuddy saw 1957

The mirror cracked from side to side or The mirror cracked 1962

A Carribean mystery 1964

At Bertram's hotel 1965

Nemesis 1971

Sleeping murder written in 1940 and published in 1976

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In my childhood, I read the Nancy Drew series by Carolyn Keene and enjoyed them thoroughly. I loved the painting on the cover of each book so much, that I cannot express fully, the emotions in my mind as I sat staring at the cover for ages! It was only in my late 30s that I discovered that Carolyn Keene is only a name and that it is a male who was writing the books and the Nancy Drew books has been written by more than one author! How naïve can I, a crime fiction reader be!

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I enjoyed the children detectives in the series by Enid Blyton featuring both boys and girls; however, Enid Blyton, made the boys braver than the girls...in those days, the characteristics attributed to girls and boys were  gender-stereotyped and so boys were depicted in a very flattering way and the girls were, in  my opinion, depicted  in  less flattering  ways.

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I did not read the books but saw a couple of episodes based on the series, 'The number 1 ladies detective agency written by Alexander McCall Smith. I enjoyed the TV episodes. I am not sure if I have the patience to read the books. I should give this series a try! I saw the show on Netflex in USA in November 2015. The chief protagonist is
Mma Precious Ramotswe a female private detective.  The list of books is below and no, I have not read any of them. Reviews of these books have been kind and said that these are nice 'feel-good' books with more about the Botswana culture and less about crime. So, this Christmas holidays, I plan to borrow and read a few of these books and if I enjoy, read 'em all!

The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series

  • 1999: The no 1 ladies detective agency
  • 2000: Tears of the giraffe
  • 2001" Morality for beautiful girls
  • 2002: The Kalahari typing school for men
  • 2003: The full cupboard of life
  • 2004: In the company of cheerful ladies (also known as: The Night-Time Dancer)
  • 2006: Blue shoes and happiness
  • 2007: The good husband of zebra drive.
  • 2008: The miracle at speedy motors
  • 2009: Tea time for the traditionally built
  • 2010: The double comfort safari club
  • 2011: The Saturday big tent wedding party
  • 2012: The Limpopo academy of private detection.
  • 2013: The minor adjustment beauty saloon
  • 2014: The handsome man's deluxe cafe
  • 2015: The woman who walked in sunshine
  • 2016:  Precious and Grace
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Listed below are Susan Oleksiw's 4 books with Anita Ray an Indian American protagonist fighting crime in Kerala, India!

Under the eye of Kali 2010
The wrath of Shiva 2012
For the love of Parvati 2014
When Krishna calls August 2016

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In August 2017 I discovered another female crime fighter...from my very own Toronto! She's a Canadian citizen of Chinese origin and a forensic accountant who fights crime or follows the money....all over Asia. She is Ava Lee created by Ian Hamilton. The style of writing is not great but I enjoy the plots and I believe I am learning the underbelly of many Asian place/countries such as Macau, etc.
The books include
  • The Water Rat of Wanchai 2011
  • The Disciple of Las Vegas 2011
  • The Wild Beasts of Wuhan 2012
  • The Red Pole of Macau 2012
  • The Scottish Banker of Surabaya 2013
  • The Two Sisters of Borneo 2013
  • The Dragon Head of Hong Kong (novella) 2014
  • The King of Shanghai2014
  • The Princeling of Nanjing 2016
  • The Couturier of Milan2017

I will add to this list as I read more female protagonists.




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The world is a very difficult place for women, even in the relatively progressive west such as USA & Canada. For women to be PIs, soldiers, police officers is more difficult than for it's for men...not because women find the job  difficult, but because of their male colleagues'  chauvinistic attitudes and often terrible behaviour  toward them, society's condescending and autocratic treatment of women.


Just today (Dec 9th 2015) I read with sadness, anger and disgust about male police officers in Victoria(B.C) sexually abusing their female colleagues often, over long periods of time, with impunity! If this can happen in the so called progressive, modern, democratic country like Canada, imagine, the fate of women in other more primitive societies such as India and Afganisthan? ( Indians, please don't get riled up if I call India primitive. I am an Indian and I admit, Indians are primitive)

I read on yahoo news in January 2016 about the sexual abuse in the name of hazing which women who join the airforce undergo. http://www.militarytimes.com/story/military/2016/01/08/reports-sexual-assaults-spike-military-academies/78496948/
 I felt so miserable to read it and I curse the SCUM who humilate and exploit women, their own colleagues, in this manner. I hope these bastards suffer and die.

 I also read with anger and disgust about the women working in the Grand Canyon being exploited by male staff. http://www.usnews.com/news/us/articles/2016-01-12/apnewsbreak-report-charts-history-of-abuse-at-grand-canyon



Millions of women  are sexually, physically and emotionally abused in the world. But for some reason, these  news items I have  mentioned above stuck in my memory and made me so miserable. I think it is because:
 I always admired women joining airforce and military and police and jobs such as at the Grand Canyon.;
 I loved their courage and career choice...
In my mind, I see little girls, who, unlike the majority of their peers, choose these adventurous roles in childhood and work hard toward them. Imagine a little girl, who loves nature and is determined to work in a natural environment like the grand Canyon; she learns swimming, camping in the wilds, she learns boating, she loves animals and studies about animals and volunteers at animal shelters and finally gets to  do the work of her dreams. Imagine that little girl, who is now a woman,  HATING  the work, she has been dreaming about and striving for since childhood, because her male colleagues  sexually abuse her! Imagine the hard choice she has to make? Give up what she has strived for since years and years or put up with the sexual assault as she wants to do her dream job?


 I had the naïve notions that men in the west are more respectful of women than men from the east and that men in services such as the  military and police  are more honorable and decent than other men. Reading these news, I am so bitterly disillusioned  by  these men/scum !


Protect Female Farmworkers   article in new York times is  the name of another article I am adding here if anyone is interested in reading




We women need these fictional female crime fighters and real-life crime fighters to derive strength, faith, confidence and belief in  women's potential.











A note to my blog readers who are from Toronto, Ontario: TPL has all the books listed here  except those authored by A.A.Fair (i.e. the Donald Lam series)Peter O'Donnell (Modesty Blaise books and comics)& Carolyn Keene(Nancy Drew). They may have a few of these three writers too...I don't know for sure. I own the books by these three authors and did not need to borrow them from TPL.