About The Author
Monabi Mitra is a writer and a Professor of English who lives in Kolkata.
She was educated at Loreto House, Presidency College, Calcutta and Jadavpur University. She has published translations of contemporary Bengali writing which include The Matchbox: Selected Short Stories of Ashapurna Debi ( Rupa & Co) in 2004 and The Fakir by Sunil Gangopadhay (Harper Perennial) in 2010.
In 2009 she began writing a crime novel, specifically a police procedural, that used the ingredients of the mystery story but lifted it out of the confines of the cosy amateur detective line into the more realistic world of the police force and their workings.
The novel centered around Bikram Chatterjee, the Deputy Superintendent of Police, Crime Branch, Calcutta and the Crime Branch team of Inspector Ghosh, Sheena Sen and DIG Toofan Kumar. This was published by Penguin India Ltd in 2012 as F.I.R, was followed by The Dead Don't Confess in 2013 and The Final Report in 2014.
DSP Bikram Chatterjee is no Chulbul Pandey though the book cover would have us believe otherwise. He is suave, intelligent, understated and has an impeccable taste in clothes, food and women, but drives rashly and jumps traffic lights. This, along with his deep-rooted insecurities, makes him human and endearing to the reader.
The first detective in a Bengali novel was a cop, Debendra Bijoy Mitra. The novelist was Panckari Dey (1873-1945). Since then, detectives in novels set in Kolkata have been non-cop individuals who try to bring justice in their unconventional way. Monabi Mitra, a professor of English at Scottish Church College and wife of a senior IPS officer, has brought back the cop-detective genre in her novel set in the city with detective DSP Bikram. The Dead Dont Confess ...has brought alive all the contradictions and dualities faced by a real police detective, whose focus in the case often gets punctuated by odd law and order and VIP duties.
The readers are gradually drawn into the many difficulties faced by the policeman in uniform. He has to operate within three restrictions: he has to work within the restrictive framework of the law; fight off pressure and influence from his administrative and political bosses; and has to face up to an often-hostile media waiting to pounce on perceived violations of the fundamental rights and freedoms in a way that may often convert a superior officer into a hostile boss.
The Deputy Superintendent of Police Bikram Chatterjee's capers are more like police procedurals. Debuting in Monabi Mitra's "FIR" (2012), he returns in "The Dead Don't Confess" (2013) -- both atmospheric, racy whodunnits (but incorporating other sub-plots) set in Kolkata and its surroundings. Both books seem quite authentic in approach, possibly due to the author having a husband who is a police officer.