crime fiction by indian women authors

Indian women authors have successfully decoded the formula for crime fiction and have lined up some magnificent thrillers in the conventionally male-dominated genre. The slippery terrains of family, marriage, and romance are all at stake with authors exploring the inner psyche with carefully crafted and nuanced three dimensional characters like Lalli the detective, Perveen Mistry, Muzaffar Jang, who are just a few of the brilliant detectives created by Indian women crime fiction writers. As Kiran Manral, author of The Face At The Window, a paranormal thriller, says, “The female gaze is relentless, unflinching and does not take excuses.” These desi detectives will go to any means to get to the bottom of a murder. From historical mysteries to the perfect romantic thriller, this list featuring crime fiction by Indian women authors has something for everyone.



Kalpana Swaminathan

Lalli, a retired policewoman is called in to help when the police discover that a serial killer is brutally killing little girls in Kandewadi, a Mumbai chawl. The unusual element of the murders is that the bodies are returned, all tied up, to where they belong. In the sixth book in the Lalli series, Lalli’s niece Sita is also back as the narrator of the book. Will Lalli be able to get to the bottom of the gruesome murders? Find out in this thrilling book.

Buy it here.


Missing, Presumed Dead

Kiran Manral

A dysfunctional marriage and mental illness could have pushed her off the edge, but when Aisha goes missing the same day that her half sister Heer appears at the door, there is cause for suspicion. When a note is found in Aisha’s wallet indicating she may have committed suicide, there are still unanswered questions.  Why does her husband Prithvi easily move on and not grieve his wife’s death? Why does Heer conveniently slip into Aisha’s shoes and then suddenly disappear one day without a trace?  This thriller uncovers ugly truths about love, loss and death.

Buy it here.


Kanpur Khoofiya Pvt. Ltd

Richa S. Mukherjee

Prachand Tripathi is a private investigator who usually investigates matters like cheating lovers and missing pets. However, a new case that involves him tailing an actress changes his world as he finds himself wading through her murky past for answers. When the actress is kidnapped before their eyes, Tripathi and his wife come to the attention of the police. They must now use their skills to discover the truth before they themselves become victims.

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The Cosmic Clues

Manjiri Prabhu

Sonia Samarth has launched a private investigation agency that is guided by Hindu astrology. Initially, people were sceptical of the agency, but after she quickly identifies the killer in her first case, clients begin to stream in. Soon, she is forced to look at her own stars after crossing paths with a notorious international criminal who has his own plans for her. The Cosmic Clues is an unusual mystery novel that keeps you hooked till the end.

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A Murder On Malabar Hill

Sujata Massey

Set in 1920s Bombay, A Murder On Malabar Hill, internationally known as The Widows Of Malabar Hill, introduces us to Perveen Mistry, one of the first female lawyers in India. While handling the will of Mr. Omar Farid, a recently deceased owner of a textile mill, she discovers that his widows have signed the inheritance over to a charity. Finding it strange, she starts investigating it only to find her suspicions confirmed when a murder takes place. Now, she has to not only find the killer but also ensure the safety of the widows. If you enjoy this book, don’t forget to pick up the sequel The Satapur Moonstone.

Buy it here.


White Knight

Aarti V. Raman

Foreign news reporter Ariana White finds herself in the middle of a murder on the night that San Magellan, a country that suddenly struck rich in oil, was to announce the country’s acceptance in to the UN. While she is interviewing Sebastian Delgado, the premier of the country, he is murdered in front of her and she herself is shot. Brandon, the Premier’s security head, who makes Ariana weak in the knees, tries to prevent her from finding out the potentially fatal truth. From the Strait of Magellan and the alleys of Paris to the port of Monte Carlo, Ariana and Brandon embark on a wild journey to get to the bottom of the international conspiracy.

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The Madras Mangler

Usha Narayan

A floating limb in the Adyar river of Chennai leads to the discovery of seven dead bodies in the river. The targets of the serial killer named The Madras Mangler are college girls aged 17 to 25. Based on the predictions of Vir Pradyumna, a forensic expert brought in from New York, the next victim will be from SS Padmaja College where Kat, Moti, Lolita, Minx, and Deepika are students. This classic whodunit will keep you guessing as to who the next victim will be and who the killer is.

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No Safe Zone

Adite Banerjie

Quira Rana is back in the city she swore she would never return to, in order to save her mentor and their NGO. Barely a few hours after landing, she is being chased by a gunman and is a potential suspect in the murder of a high profile businessman. The only person who she can turn to for help is Kabir Shorey, the man who had stood her up ten years ago. Their mission to bust an international women’s trafficking ring takes them on deadly journey from the streets of Delhi to the bazaars of Rajasthan as they tread finely over danger, truth, lies, love and betrayal.

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Engraved In Stone

Madhulika Liddle

The suave Delhi nobleman, Muzaffar Jang, is in Agra to escort Shireen home as a favour to his sister. Set in the 17th century, just two years after the Taj Mahal was built, the novel unravels the mysteries and secrets held within Agra and the monument. The major players are introduced to us at the dinner hosted by Mumtaz Hassan in honour of Muzaffar. When Mumtaz is murdered in his bed the same night, the Diwan-i-Kul, who is the advisor to the emperor commands Muzaffar to solve the crime. Muzaffar must find the killer or it’s his head on the line. The author masterfully blends history with crime fiction. This is the third book in the Muzaffar Jang series.

Buy it here.


Drop Dead: A Nikki Marwah Mystery

Swati Kaushal

When Rak Mehta, the hotshot President & CEO of a super-successful publishing company, is found dead at the bottom of the serene hills of Sonargam at the height of the tourist season, Niki Marwah, Superintendent of Police, Shimla must act fast to catch the killer. As she and her team investigate the Lotus Resort, they uncover secrets of the sordid past of the victim and a growing list of suspects. Will Nikki be able to decode the clues of lipstick stains, condoms, and a notebook full of rambling code, and catch the killer, all the while dealing with bribery, mind games, and broken promises?

Buy it here.


Cult Of Chaos

Shweta Taneja

Cult Of Chaos introduces us to Anantya Tantrist, a tantrik who has chosen to abandon the values of her clan and live by her own code. Extremely taut and edgy, the book is set in a Delhi which is run by the men of a tantrik clan called the Kaula. In order to save young girls from being sacrificed in the name of dark magic, Anantya has to fight various supernatural forces, evil tantriks from other clans, and even a giant three-headed cobra. The book perfectly mixes two genres, crime fiction and Indian fantasy fiction.

Buy it here.


Cut Like Wound

Anita Nair

On the first night of Ramadan, a male prostitute is killed and burnt alive in Bangalore. Inspector Borei Gowda starts investigating the murder, while juggling his ruined marriage, relationship with his son, and his affair with an ex-girlfriend. As the killer continues to rack up the body count, it becomes clear that a serial killer is on the loose when Gowda recognises a pattern in the killings. Cut Like Wound is not just a psychological thriller but it also delves into the mind of a killer and makes you sympathise with him.

Buy it here.

Rhea has completed her Masters in English at SNDT Women’s University. Her key research interests are post-colonial studies, mainly focussing on women’s narratives and their experience of citizenship.  Her other interests are Dalit literature in translation. She also sings in a choir. 

Rhea is the social media manager at The Curious Reader. Read her articles here.