The Many Avatars of Crime
Madhumita Chakraborty
DEAD MEN TELL TALES: THE MEMOIR OF A POLICE SURGEON  by Dr B. Umadathan. Translated from the Malaylam by Priya K Nair HarperCollins India, 2021, 364 pp., 399.00
December 2021, volume 45, No 12

Umadathan’s work Oru Police Surgeonnte Ormakurippukal has been a best seller in its original Malayalam since it was first published in 2010. Umadathan wore many hats during his life. He served as a Professor of forensic medicine, he was a police surgeon, a medico-legal adviser to Kerala Police, the Principal of Government Medical College, Thiruvananthapuram, and Director of Medical Studies, Government of Kerala, just to name a few. He is widely credited with introducing the word ‘forensic’ in Malayalam, and using his medico-investigative skills to give a direction and conclusion to cases that would otherwise have seen a different conclusion.

Dead Men Tell Tales: The Memoir of a Police Surgeon. It is a memoir providing a narrative account of different cases dealt by Umadathan during the course of his career. Interspersed in between are the stories of his personal life and professional advancements—his transfers, change of jobs, etc. Many of the cases that Umadathan writes about are quite famous (or rather infamous!)—they dominated newspaper headlines in the State and even nationally. He provides us with the ‘inside story’ and nitty-gritties of the investigations through his descriptions of these cases, which will be discussed later.

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