The Oxford Dictionary defines “Pulp Fiction” as “Fiction of a style characteristic of pulp magazines; sensational, lurid, or popular fiction“. Blaft Publications has been at the vanguard releasing several volumes of Tamil Pulp Fiction. Their latest release is “The Aayakudi Murders” written by popular Tamil mystery writer Indira Soundar Rajan and translated to English by Nirmal Rajagopalan. This book is a translation of Indira Soundar Rajan’s “Olivadharku Vazhi Illai“.
The book welcomes us with its striking dark orange-hued cover portraying the illustration of the main characters of this supernatural crime thriller. Shyam‘s use of tints of orangy-red mixed with some shady black and the title looming large on the right corner with red background gives an uplift to the book, making it instantly likable from the first view.
A mysterious letter arrives at the desk of Selvam weekly magazine’s editor at Chennai addressed to him from Chinna Pechi, a woman from a village named Aayakudi near Tirunelveli. She mentions about the mysterious incidents happening in the foothills of her village with spirits wreaking havoc to people along the deserted part of the village foothills.
Her own father has fallen ill after going there and mentions doubt about an escaped prisoner using it as a place to hide from the eyes of the cops and the villagers. She asks for their help to investigate the mysteries that hound their village. The editor sends journalist Rajendran to Aaykudi to report on the mysterious incidents. On reaching Aayakudi however, Rajendran is received by the news of the death of Chinna Pechi’s father and the reality that Chinna Pechi is a young girl no older than 8 years of age.
Deenadayalan, an old retired Tamil teacher from Aayakudi helps Rajendran on his quest to unravel the mysteries that plague the village. Rajendran initially attributes the murder on the escaped prisoner who is on the run and holds him responsible for spreading panic about spirits. But a series of murders which follow shifts his focus and makes him speculate about the existence of ghosts. They are joined by Rudra, an intrepid police officer and an old student of Deenadayalan to decipher the enigmatic murders happening around the village. Rudra casts a heavy doubt on Rajamanickam, who is soon to be the son-in-law of the village chief Govinda Naicker. Did Rajendran, Deenadayalan, and Rudrapathy find the culprit who is behind the cryptic homicides happening in the quaint village of Aayakudi? Is there an ancient treasure hidden in the village or is it a hoax? What happened to the marriage of Thenmozhi, the daughter of the village head Govinda Naicker forms the rest of the novel.
The terse mystery novel is fast-paced with its lucid narration and engaging plot. The characters are intertwined with the plot and felt real with each emanating different emotions of their own. The plot takes us through the village of Aayakudi with breakneck speed chapter after chapter without any hitch to impede the smooth transition of chapters. The introduction of each character without giving anything amiss while continuing to build the suspense with every chapter really held one’s breath off.
The stellar idea of holding off the suspense about who was behind all the chaos that ensued until the last line of the sentence was sublime although after the marriage sequence one would have guessed the perpetrator. The subtle diversions at every other corner when one expected that the perpetrator was finally caught only to be realized about the brilliance of the author in conning the reader’s mind into thinking that they have been thinking wrong all the while. The translation was easy to read without any glitches and the glossary that accompanied at the end would be very useful for people to understand certain words and the context with which they were used in the book.
“The Aayakudi Murders” is a short gripping tale of grisly murders, baffling supernatural mysteries and the eventual hot pursuit in search of the cryptic perpetrator who wreaks panic while making us tread along the dusty roads of Aayakudi with equal curiosity and eventual suspense.
Title: The Aayakudi Murders
Author: Indira Soundar Rajan
Translator: Nirmal Rajagopalan
Publisher: Blaft Publications
Disclaimer: Thanks to Blaft Publications for the review copy. All opinions are my own.