After the book “Invitation” by Shehryar Fazli, this is another fiction I am reading that is happening around Karachi, Pakistan. This time what I read was two books from a popular series “Ali Imran” set of detective novels written by South Asia’s popular write IBN-E Safi who was a celebrated author in Pakistan in last century. The first book in the series of 79 novels was published in October 1955, IBN-E Safi (meaning Son of Safi) is the pen name of Asrar Narvi who was born in 1928 in Nara (Allahabad District) in British India, he started writing in 1940s while in India and then moved to Pakistan during partition where he continued to write till his death in 1980. It is said people queued up in Pakistan to buy his books on their release.
The books are “The House of Fear” and “The Dangerous Man” both are English translations of the original from Urdu, translated for the first time. Each book contains two stories, each story about 100 odd pages. The books revolve around Ali Imran, an engaging protagonist, he has an MSc and PhD in criminology from Oxford, but can be disarmingly moronic, even appearing mad at times. Imran is the son of Intelligence Bureau chief and in the first book (The House of Fear) he appears as a freelancer helping his friend Captain Fayyaz. Captain Fayyaz telegrams to Colonel Zargham who needs help withe a problem this “I am sending someone who could be of great use to you if you don’t get fed up with him”. This statement captures the character Ali Imran is portrayed in the story, most of the time he talks nonsensical to the point of irritating the other characters, but as a reader we are having a good laugh. In many places in both the books I was laughing myself loudly to disturb others in the room with me. At the end, Imran solves all the cases without much bloodshed and all mysteries unravelled. The subject of each story seems to be different as well – one was about a Murder, another was about Smuggling, another was about Drug Trading and the other was about Ghosts.
If you enjoy a mystery novel that is fun and engaging, I will recommend you try these two books.
Story summaries from the Publisher:
1. The House of Fear: Dead bodies have been found in an abandoned house, each bearing three identical dagger marks, exactly five inches apart. Who is behind these eerie murders?
2. Shootout at the Rocks: Colonel Zargham knows he is in grave danger when he receives a three-inch wooden monkey in the mail. This is no ordinary threat, but a warning from the two-hundred-years old Li Yu Ka, one of the world s deadliest gangs. The monkey will be followed by a wooden snake, and then a wooden rooster, after which the colonel will be swiftly murdered.
3. Mysterious Screams: Ten years ago, Nawwab Hashim was found dead in his bedroom. Now a man claiming to be him appears out of the blue. Sajid, his nephew and heir, doesn’t know what to believe, nor can he fathom the terrible screams that have started emerging from the house each night.
4. The Dangerous Man: Roshi, a prostitute, has always known how to take care of herself until the day she meets a handsome young man called Parrot . Soon she is caught in a spiral of intrigue and she doesn t know who to trust. Who is this Parrot ? Will he prove to be her saviour? Or is he the archnemesis?