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The world of whodunits

Modern characters to gripping plots, crime detective fiction authors tell us what still makes the genre popular among youth

books Updated: Feb 29, 2012 06:46 IST

The exciting world of detective crime fiction came alive at St Stephen’s College that held a three-day International Crime Conference, which concluded on Sunday. Icelandic author Yrsa Sigurdardottir, who is considered to be among the Nordic supremos like author Stieg Larsson, enthralled all with her insights into the genre.

Indian detective crime fiction authors Partha Basu, Madhulika Liddle, and assistant professor at St Stephen’s and author Geeti Chandra decoded the popularity and evolution of crime detective genre. “Youth with a short attention span and forever looking for action gets easily hooked on to whodunits. In fact, it is one of the most discussed topics among students, so we decided to come up with this festival,” says Chandra, also the organiser of the event.

“There are four layers in a detective novel — plot, characters, landscape and setting/time. To make it work, all the parameters have to be taken care of,” says Sigurdardottir, creator of Thora Gudmindsdottir, a lawyer and an investigator, who is the protagonist in her novels such as Ashes to Dust and My Soul to Take.

Madhulika Liddle, author of The Englishman’s Cameo and The Eight Guest says, “Crime novels are user friendly as they don’t require serious reading. It’s purely entertainment and everyone can enjoy it.”

Modern whodunits do not have laid-back protagonists solving crimes from the luxury of an arm chair. Talking about the current trend seen in modern novels, she says, “Crimes novels are a reflection of the present times. People today want murder with lots of complexities that involves action and violence, hence the characters.”