Wednesday, September 20, 2017



I am a big fan of discovering pulp stories from other cultures and countries. Pulp is truly universal, entertaining readers across the globe. Recently, I posted about the South African fotoboekies—a mash-up of action photography and cartoon captioning—including TESSA and LANCE SPEARMAN.

On the heels of those posts, I dropped in on The Yellow Dog Bookstore in Kansas City on the way to catch a plane home to California. There, tucked away in a corner, with its pulpy awesomeness screaming from a gaudy paperback cover, was a mint copy of The 65 Lakh Heist by prolific Indian pulpster Surender Mohan Pathak.

One of six novels by Pathak to be translated into English from the original Hindi, The 65 Lakh Heist is a scorching hot curry mixture of Parker, Wyatt, Nolan, and any other hardcore thief you want to throw in to spice things up. A robbery gone desperately and violently wrong novel, The 65 Lakh Heist, introduces charismatic criminal Vimal to English speaking audiences for the first time. Also known as Sardar, Surender, Singh, Sohal, and another dozen names used to camouflage his identity in the Mumbai underworld, Vimal is a Hindi Robin Hood—a clenched fist of a man constantly on the run from the law and other powerful criminals. 

Referred to as the father of Hindi pulp crime fiction, Surender Mohan Pathak has written close to 300 novels, including 60+ standalone thrillers, 120+ adventures of crime reporter Sunil, 22+ investigations of the Philosopher Detective Sudhir, and 42 of his anti-hero Vimal crime thrillers. 

While working a full-time job in Delhi with Indian Telephone Industries, Pathak began his writing career in the early 1960s translating Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels and the works of James Hadley Chase into the Hindi language. His first original story, The Man 57 Years Old, was published in a Hindi crime fiction magazine in 1959, followed by his first full length novel, featuring the debut of his crime reporter series character Sunil, in 1963.

The character Sunil is a suave and principled investigative journalist working for the daily newspaper Blast. He lives in the metropolitan city of Rajnagar located on the coastline. Both the newspaper and the city are fictional, much the same as the city of Isola in Ed McBain’s 87th Precinct novels.

Sunil has a weakness for damsels in distress, who seem to drop into his life with the regularity of the rising sun. In his 30s, Sunil is willing to go any lengths in pursuit of justice. He is aided by his best friend, nightclub owner, Ramakant Malhotra. 

Every strong character requires an equally strong nemeses. In Sunil’s case it is the iron-rodded, incorruptible Inspector Prabhudayal, who is in charge of the homicide division of the Rajnagar Police.

Nicknamed the philosopher detective, Sudhir Kumar Kohli is another of Pathak’s series protagonists.  Told in the first person, the Kohli tales are the diametric opposite of those in the Sunil series. Calling himself The Hammer of Delhi, Kohli constantly manipulates Inspector Devender Kumar Yadav, who has no problem selling his dishonesty. There is one novel in the Kohli series, The Last Goal, which has been translated into English. 

However, it is Vimal, the scourge of the Mumbai underworld, who has become Pathak’s most popular character. It took three novels, two different publishers, and another publisher virtually blackmailed into publishing the third Vimal book, before Pathak’s breakout moment occurred. But once Vimal—the first fictional anti-hero in India—caught the public consciousness, the series shot up the Indian bestseller lists, bringing Pathak’s other characters along for the wild ride.

Other Hindi pulp writers have attempted to emulate Pathak’s success. Several of them have been accused of plagiarizing or borrowing heavily from Pathak’s books. However, none have achieved Pathak’s unparalleled success.

If you’re looking for something different yet familiar to spice up your pulp reading, Vimal is the man to see for the job.



The book that launched a whole genre of anti-hero Hindi crime fiction—Vimal never wanted to get involved in the heist. But he's been roped in and only hopes he can finish the job without getting caught. His partners have other plans, however, and soon Vimal finds himself playing a deadly game with the kingpin of the Punjab underworld...First published in 1977 and reprinted over fifteen times, The 65 Lakh Heist is the first of Surender Mohan Pathak's hugely popular Vimal series to be translated in to English. 


An explosive plan one bullet away from disaster. A grizzled old card shark who wants to pull one last job before he retires from his life of crime. A security officer with a dangerous penchant for gambling. A hot-blooded beauty who judges a man by the thickness of his wallet. And Vimal—a man so desperate for a future, he's willing to commit Daylight Robbery.


Vimal, a man with many faces and numerous names, was an escaped convict fit to be recaptured and hanged. But, after many years, Vimal has decided to abandon his past and settle down as a family man. But his nemesis Mayaram Bawa comes back from the grave to destroy him, his sole ambition being to go down in history as the man who tamed the invincible Vimal. From the bestselling forty-novel strong Vimal series by the king of crime fiction Surender Mohan Pathak, comes Framed, a page-turner you won’t be able to resist.


Taxi driver Jeet Singh is cruising for fare when a man being tailed by a bunch of goons blocks his way. Entrusting Jeet Singh with a briefcase full of secret, classified government documents, the man asks Jeet to deliver them instead of a huge sum to a girl in Jogeshwari. The man than jumps from Jeet Singh’s moving taxi. The next morning, the man’s dead body is found by the railway track in a Mumbai suburb. To complicate matters, Jeet Singh finds the girl he was supposed to deliver the briefcase to is also dead. When Jeet Singh opens the briefcase, a free-for-all over diamonds worth millions is set into motion. From the badshah of crime writing comes another blockbuster novel, Diamonds are for All.


Jeet Singh’s ex-girlfriend Sushmita’s rich industrialist husband is brutally stabbed to death. Her stepchildren destroy all evidence of her marriage to their slain father, and implicate her in the murder along with Jeet Singh. Known to be able to open any safe in the country, Jeet Singh takes it upon himself to clear their names and solve the murder. Voted the most popular book of 2014 in Indian Writing, Cobra Conspiracy is a whodunit to keep you guessing all the way. 


The moment I had my first glance of Mathur’s mansion, I had to concede Madan had not exaggerated while describing his riches. It was a palatial structure fit only to be abode of a king. Money is God for a poor man. But for a rich man, the role of money is very restricted. In the life of a rich man, a stage comes when money becomes a useless commodity. When its only utility left is to make it an instrument of earning more money. A rich man laments God didn’t bestow him with ten mouths and twenty stomachs, as he cannot sip silver as drink, he cannot eat gold as food, cannot chew diamonds or rubies or pearls. That might be the reason the men with money make the most vulgar display of it in raising a mansion and in the marriage of their children where no expenditure is ever enough.

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