History isn't boring anymore

There are those who get turned off by the thought of history. The past doesn’t seem as interesting as the present.

But for Madhulika Liddle, her love for history inspired her to write her first historical detective novel, The Englishman's Cameo which was launched in the City last week.
The book is a detective story set in the Delhi of 1656. Shahjahan has shifted the court from Agra to Delhi, and the new city of Shahjahanabad is a glittering, busy metropolis that attracts merchants, adventurers and travellers from all across the world. Against this backdrop, a crime occurs: an important nobleman is found murdered in one of the gardens of the Qila Mubarak, the Red Fort. The prime suspect — summarily arrested and imprisoned — is a jeweller's assistant called Faisal. Fortunately for Faisal, he has a loyal friend in a young nobleman, Muzaffar Jang. Muzaffar is a bit of a maverick. Whatever else he may be, Muzaffar is convinced that Faisal is innocent - and so he sets about trying to find out who the culprit really is.

 The story seeks to unravel the game of lies, and deceit. “I discovered that there were too many people writing historical detective fiction in the West. I had read so many of them and thought I should introduce this exciting genre to an Indian reader,” Madhulika told Metrolife.

Madhulika has been reading historical detective fiction ever since she was a young girl. “I was most fascinated by the Mughal, it had to be that period. Also, the setting had to be Delhi, since I am most familiar with this City – so, Shahjahan’s period in Delhi seemed most appropriate,” she says.

She adds, “I wanted to share my experiences of discovering the more interesting aspects of life in medieval Delhi: how people lived, what they ate, what they read, how they entertained themselves.”

Madhulika says the book required a great deal of research and it was indeed a challenge to get the dates and historical facts right. “One had to be perfect with the politics of that time,” she observes.  

Her next novel will be a sequel to the The Englishman's Cameo. It will consist of a series of short stories and will feature Muzaffar Jang in the lead.  

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