Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Ibne Safi's Jasoosi Duniya in English!

Such books sell only if they are loaded with sex, the young Urdu writer was told when he began working in the thriller genre in the late 1940s. But Asrar Ahmed was having none of it. I’ll find another way out, he said (the pen name he had recently adopted—Ibne Safi—implied pure intentions), and so he did. In a career spanning three decades, he would publish over 240 bestselling novels and become a cult figure in his own lifetime.

Around half those books make up the hugely popular Jasoosi Dunya series, about the adventures of the imperturbable super-sleuth Colonel Faridi and his happy-go-lucky assistant, Captain Hameed. Now the publishing house Blaft—known for its Tamil pulp-fiction anthologies and for a refreshingly unconventional approach to book production—has brought out fine English translations of four of these novels. The titles—numbers 60 to 63 in the original series—are Poisoned Arrow, Smokewater, The Laughing Corpse and Doctor Dread. The covers, incorporating the original Allahabad-edition artwork, depict gun duels, skulls and crossbones, blonde women who look like they’ve popped out of a homely 1950s American sitcom, and an archer modelled on Errol Flynn’s Robin Hood. And the stories within are as fast-paced and exciting as you’d expect.

Each of these books deals with a separate mystery—murder by poisoned arrow, the kidnapping of a young heiress, and so on—but there’s a linking device in the form of two shadowy figures: an enigmatic, monkey-faced man named Finch and the notorious criminal Doctor Dread. As the stories unfold, we discover the connection between these two men and how their activities intersect with Faridi’s investigations. But first we must get to know our crime-fighting protagonists.
Jai Arjun Singh in Open. More Here

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