A murder mystery unearthing the dark world of Bollywood

New Delhi, Jan 20 (IANS) Times are tough for Samson Ryder, a Melbourne-based, Anglo-Indian private investigator who likes his facts cold and his curries hot.

A secret guilt over the death of his sister has left him guarded and closed, costing him his relationship with his girlfriend, his parents and his faith. When a wealthy Indian industrialist engages him to investigate how his daughter, a rising Bollywood starlet, died on a location shooting in Australia, Ryder treats it as easy money. After all, the police had ruled out foul play.

He soon comes to realise that this is also his opportunity for redemption, to help a family find the answers to their grief, the answers he couldn’t give to his own parents. To uncover the truth, Ryder goes back to the city of his birth, Mumbai and teams up with Mabel, his interpreter, Godmother and second-best cook in the world. Together, they prise off the glittering mask of Bollywood and unveil an industry where friendships are fickle, affairs are currency, black magic and curses are rampant and hidden dangers lurk all around.

Will Sam uncover the truth or will he be the next victim in Patrick Lyons’ “Masala And Murder” (Niyogi Books), as bone-chilling story with Bollywood playing the backdrop.

“Ever since I was young,” says Lyons, “I have always been drawn to crime fiction, to stories that expose the brutal underbelly of civilised society. The inspiration for ‘Masala and Murder’ came from conversations with people who work in Bollywood, about the glitz and glam, about what takes place behind the camera, and about the dark influence of superstition.”

Commenting on the book, Trisha Niyogi, COO & Director, Niyogi Books, says: “What we get many times from a crime/detective fiction is an exaggerated glorification of the character in the centre of the action. This is not the case for Samson Ryder in ‘Masala and Murder’. The author has gone to the extent of nurturing the insecurities, fears and limitations of a man of flesh and blood. He is no glory hero. There’s in fact a parallel personal narrative of Samson that goes hand in hand with the unfolding of the mystery. And these two parallels often cross their paths.”

Patrick Lyons grew up in a house full of crime, literally. Almost every room had a crime novel lying around, spread-eagled, face down, his mother’s ways of bookmarking from Agatha Christie in the bedroom, to Ruth Rendell in the kitchen and Chandler in the lounge. It was only a matter of time before he picked these books up himself.

Lyons wrote his first crime story aged 12 for a school competition. He got an ‘A’. He also talked about the amount of violence in the story. It did not matter that he didn’t win; he was just thrilled with how the writing process seemed to flow. He’s been arrested by crime writing ever since.

Writing about his experience as an Anglo-Indian growing up in Australia during the 1970s and 1980s is a good way for Lyons to explore broader concepts of exclusiveness, racism, identity and duality. These notions subtly pepper his work, bringing grit to his characters. The often-hilarious cultural clashes he witnessed provide plenty of scope for humour, and an opportunity to reflect on the universal desire to belong. Patrick lives in Melbourne with his family and a pet, bearded dragon, called Rex. He is never far from a good coffee.

–IANS

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