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    Anita Naira��s crime solving inspector will soon be back on duty

    SocietyNewANITAA�Nair says she hasna��t read much crime fiction. But having cut my teeth on Agatha Christie and her ilk, I can truthfully say I enjoy the crime-solving skills and gruffly appealing personality of her very own detective, Borei Gowda. Gowda appeared in 2012 in her first crime fiction novel, Cut Like Wound. And in a fortnight he will reappear in the next in the series, Chain of Custody.

    Particularly appealing to me is Gowdaa��s fallibility, his normalcy. He is cranky, cynical, paunchy (though hea��s taken up running now) and not entirely satisfied with his life, but his sleuthing ability a�� his sixth sense a�� remains stellar. I asked Nair how she thought up his character and its idiosyncrasies. a�?From the start, I had a mental image of a policeman called Gowda on a bike (a 500 cc 1991 Bullet). But his character built up gradually. He likes to drink a�� first, I thought whisky a�� but later changed to Old Monk rum. As an ex-Josephite of his era, he likes listening to hard rock a�� he has an urban streak though he isna��t sophisticated. At almost 50, he decides to get a tattoo a�� a 3-by-5-inch motorbike wheel with wings. Ita��s his secret joy, one that he hides from his wife. Hea��s like a young person who hasna��t blossomed fully.a�?

    Distracted by the return of his college sweetheart, Urmila, Gowda rediscovers his lost youth and a frozen part of him comes to life even as he fights to keep his attention on the job. a�?Hea��s not a casual philanderer. Just a good man with flaws.a�? So how does Gowda grow in the new book? a�?Hea��s more introspective now. Hea��s got a wife and a mistress. He isna��t willing to relinquish Urmila who gives him emotional sustenance, yet wona��t consider divorce.a�? His trusty sidekick, Santosh is back from the jaws of death, and therea��s a new female sub inspector in the mix.
    For Nair, whose primary genre is literary fiction, the switch to crime wasna��t hard. She says Gowda a�?allows me to make social commentary, and I love that. So in some sense, Ia��m using literary fiction techniques in crime fiction a�� literary noir really.a�? The a�?noira�� here is the dark subject Gowda must grapple with this time a�� child trafficking a�� a subject Nair wanted to address. a�?I wanted to bring a sense of immediacy to the book and since I already had Gowda, I could deal with this subject in a real, tangible way, not from a distance as in literary fiction. The reality of child trafficking is hard to deal with even for the police, so you get a sense of what his character is going through.a�?
    Nair mentally works through the storyline before she starts writing. She explains, a�?I have a rough structure in my head and know where the storya��s heading, but occasionally move things around. The story must be clear, the thoughts completed and loopholes plugged. As a reader, Ia��d be disappointed by unfinished thou-ghts and irrelevant characters.a�? Therea��s nothing unfinished about Inspector Gowda. Youa��ll soon see.

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    -Ruma Singh


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