Book Review: The Aayakudi Murders by Indra Soundar Rajan

Book Name: The Aayakudi Murders

Author: Indra Soundar Rajan

Translated by: Nirmal Rajagopalan

Publisher: Blaft Publications

Genre: Fiction

Rating: 5/5

Blurb: When intrepid young journalist Rajendran first arrives in Aayakudi to investigate a curious tip about a ghost, the place seems like an ordinary, traditional farming village. Enlisting the help of a police inspector and a retired Tamil teacher, he sets out to catch an escaped convict who’s using local superstitions as a cover for criminal activity. Soon, though, Rajendran finds himself entangled in a head-spinning mystery involving ancient treasure, spirit possession, and a series of grisly killings. There’s also the beautiful, troubled daughter of the village panchayat president… and the notorious evil sorcerer who wants her dead.

Review: The Aayaudi Murders is a murder mystery fuelled by an interesting plot and narrated in a thrilling fashion. This is pulp fiction at its best and is one of the many stories penned by the stalwart of Tamil fiction, Indra Soundar Rajan.

Translated brilliantly (and I have read some horrible translations) by Nirmal Rajagopalan, it tells the story of a series of murders in Ayyakudi. A reporter Rajendran decides to pay Ayyakudi a visit after receiving a mysterious letter.

There are reports of spirits and the murders do not stop even after a thorough police investigation. Rajendran finds himself surrounded by a sinister plot that is deeper than his initial analysis. He is, however, soon joined by a competent police officer, Rudra who is determined to get to the bottom of the murders.

Rajendran is helped by a teacher in the village who manages to connect him with the other world. He is provided with enough clues but they always seem to fall short until the very climax when all is revealed.

The Ayyakudi Murders has a brilliant plot and it is unputdownable. The only downside is that towards the end, the climax seems to drag a bit very much like a typical Bollywood film I (I have not watched enough Tamil cinema, hence, providing a Bollywood reference). This spoils what is otherwise a very good novel. The plot has enough twists and turns, significant incidences unfold at the right time and you never get bored while reading it.

“One of these men wore a muslin jibba, with slippers made of tire rubber of his feet. He sported a sharp moustache with the tips turned upwards. He looked every inch like a hero from an epic.”

The language is colloquial and serves well for novels of this genre. This is one of the better translations I have read in a long time.

Rajendran has been developed as a strong character and is complemented by the strong-willed Rudra. There is a side romantic plot that sort of completed this otherwise thrilling book. The book also manages some sarcasm and snide moments.

This book is for every reader who wants to read something different.

Will the two be able to get to the bottom of the murders that seem to have plagued the village?

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