Of all the subjects I wrote about, my short stint as a crime writer, I enjoyed the most; very predictable as my favourite authors were Alistair McLean, Arthur Hailey, John Creasey, Sidney Sheldon et al. In my school days it was Enid Blyton. Perry Mason the criminal defence lawyer had a redoubtable Detective; truth unraveled by plodding investigative work buttressed Mason’s legal acumen in getting his clients acquitted.
I say plodding because, a murder of an old lady in Teynampet with robbery as the motive was solved by a very ordinary Chennai City Police Inspector, who was neither very brilliant or lucky, just meticulous and thorough. The robber had gained entry through the front door, opened by the land lady followed her to the kitchen and picking up on of the kitchen knives, killed her and fled with her jewels. She however had time to scream in terror and pain and soon a crowd gathered in front of the house. Th robber fled from the rear or side by scaling over a wall and jumping on to a neighbour’s compound.
Two clues were left behind; a pair of slippers abandoned by the fleeing criminal; a set of fingerprints. Now, normally since the scene of crime was the kitchen and the perpetrator made his entry through the front door, the forensic gathering of clues would be restricted to the ground floor. The inspector however insisted that the first floor also be screened for fingerprints. As it turned out, there were no prints found on the ground floor – he had been careful not to touch anything. However while fleeing he had used a route through a first floor verandah to jump on to the compound wall, which was too high to scale at ground level. Briefly he touched the wall or banisters to steady himself before leaping off. This set of fingerprints would later help to identify the murderer from a narrowing list of suspects. Other witnesses clinched the watertight case by identifying him as the owner of the slippers. The person nabbed was an old driver of the victim’s husband’s office, who occasionally worked as a part time driver for the couple. What I am trying to drive at is that but for the meticulous and systematic footwork done by the investigation officer, the crime would have remained unsolved. If our Government lacks funds and infrastructure to train our cops, they can at least insist they watch serials like CSI (Crime Scene Investigation) that runs on channels like HBO, Star and AXN.
Why I suddenly thought of crime investigation was a headline in today’s newspaper about an actor’s daughter losing her Rs.12,00,000 ring down the road where I reside, while eating an ice cream. Her dad, a famous movie star, is an alumni of my school Montfort, Yercaud and presided over the recent Centenary celebrations, as Chief Guest. But really! A ring worth twelve lakhs? What was she thinking? If she had asked my advice I would have told her to buy a ring worth ten lakhs and take a flight to Stockholm, eat a really nice ice cream there and fly back and still have enough for another return flight to Sweden to look for her ring left behind there.
A small note about ice creams and rings in Sweden. The ice creams cold storage freezers hog more space then the entire vegetable section of one of our giant super markets; the ingredients used are fresh natural fruits, not artificial flavours. As the ice cream melts in your mouth, you can feel your teeth sink in to the soft luscious pulp of a mango or crush of a strawberry.
Now a few words about the rings, precious jewellery, chains and pendants; they lie where they have fallen, waiting for their owners to return an pick them up. Needless to add, five prisons out of ten are closing down in Sweden – no inmates. Their mental hospital has closed and been converted in to an old age home. Yes, you guessed it, no crime branch in the police, in fact no traffic police either; traffic signals noted for their absence, except a few in the capital, mainly to help pedestrians to cross. Their annual accident rate is in single digit for the entire country.
Both at Stockholm Arlanda Airport and Stockholm, on my way to Poland I came across gold chains, diamond rings, silver and platinum trinkets hung up in the wash rooms still there on my return trip after one week. Back to Khader Nawaz Khan Road, I took my dog Sparky to the crime scene. Hopefully if the lady had dropped some ice cream on her ring, my pet will dig it out of the debris and garbage strewn around the ice cream joint. But no such luck.There is a family of mynahs perched on the tree above the CS. I wonder if they saw it?