Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Mystery of the Fortress and other stories by Saradindu Bandyopadhyay

I managed to get hold of the elusive "Mystery of the Fortress", an English translation of Saradindu Bandyopadhyay's stories about his favorite creation Byomkesh Bakshi. Originally written in Bengali this book enumerates 5 different stories, each a puzzling mystery one after the other. The translation has been done by Mr. Shankar Sen, and I must admit he has done a fine job of it. After a few disaster translations of Saradindu Bandyopadhyay's works like "Rhythm of Riddles" I was afraid that these fine stories would leave an indelible bad impression on the readers mind due to sub par translation.

It's been two years since I last read a story about the Seeker of truth, I hope I don't have to wait another two years to get hold of another Byomkesh book.

Following the old tradition of my blog, I'm going to do capsule reviews of the quintet.

The Invisible Triangle - A really short story of a murder of a married woman, who is an intelligent, independent business woman and has only a formal relationship with her impudent husband. The identity of the murderer is no secret but Byomkesh has to prove how the murder was done. An average read by any stretch of the imagination, good characters, good build up but a disappointing end.

Iron Biscuits - Kamal Babu comes to Byomkesh for help, he is living in a rented house whose owner has fleeced on account of his involvement in a murder case. Kamal babu wants to travel outside town but feels that on doing so will lose hold of "his" property. Seems like an innocuous  case? but the mystery deepens. An ingenious piece of work with an even ingenious method of hiding and retrieving smuggled gold.

The Crooked Circle - An unscrupulous crook threatens a money lender with dire consequences, fearing for his life the moneylender goes into shock and becomes paralyzed. Some time later the crook is found murdered. While everyone starting from the Police to Byomkesh suspect the money lender but they can'y figure out how the neurotic paralyzed man did it.

Those Spoke Kavi Kalidasa - A rich coal mine owner, Manish Babu, hires Byomkesh to investigate incidents of troubles erupting in his mine. Someone is sabotaging work in the mine and Byomkesh has been given the task to investigate, but it turns out that is not the only mystery that Byomkesh will have to decipher. An old gambler has been murdered and Manish Babu's seemngly harmless son has got involved in the murder case.
An Agatha Christie type mystery with a lot of suspects and the murderer is the one who you least suspect. some characters like Mohini leave you wanting for more, the pacing of the story is perfect. couple of flaws that I wanted to point out was a) there is a big clue thrown right before the end of the story which gives away the identity of the culprit b) the mystery of the coalmine is disappointing and even amateurish. Not sure why it was even included in the story only the murder piece should have been there...

The Mystery of the Fortress - By far the longest and best story in the book. Brilliantly crafted, a sublime mystery with very interesting and dark characters. It has got everything, a lonely fortress, treasure hunt, murder, a dysfunctional family and perfect setting for a Byomkesh mystery. There is Indian written all over the story which provides that extra attractiveness which only an Indian reader can relate towards. Must read!


  1. Where did you get it from? It's out of stock online.

  2. its not available even on homehsop now...

  3. are there any soft copies available of the english does not have a kindle version

    1. hi Saurav,

      this one is really had to find, try

  4. It's available on now, from seller "Starmark". They have it in stock, - I ordered mine a week ago and got it today. FINALLY. Been looking for it since my original post of September 2 2014.

  5. available on have ordered a copy... let us see how fast and if they deliver! keeping my fingers crossed

    1. hi NK,

      best of luck :) hope you have read picture imperfect from the same author, its easily available also.

  6. Hi Rishi,
    If you have enjoyed Byomkesh you certainly would enjoy Feluda series created by none other than the director, writer - Satyajit Ray. You can start this series by watching Feluda movies like "Joy Baba Felunath" or "Sonar Kella".

    1. hi there,

      Thanks for the suggestion. I will find out if there is something with subtitles. you can also look for more Byomkesh book reviews on my blog:


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