by Stuart Blackburn

  1. ISBN: 978-81-291-3099-0
  2. Pages: 268 pages
  3. Date: March 2014


Velan saw the shape of a man in the dark, but not the machete gripped in his hand…
Set in a small town in South India in the early 1970s, Murder in Melur is the story of Vijayan, a
confused idealist who is buffeted by the politics of the period—the Rationalist, Dravidian and
Communist movements in the Tamil country as well as the incipient civil war in Sri Lanka. His
idealism, however, is frustrated not only by social convention and injustice but also by his own
inertia and self-absorption.
But when his friend Velan, a political activist, is mysteriously murdered, it gives Vijayan an
opportunity to put his ideas into practice but also leads him into a chilling web of deceit and
political intrigue from which it seems he cannot escape.
As he digs deeper into Velan’s life to look for answers, Velan’s murderer lurks in the background
and appears to be following Vijayan. But the questions keep piling up as the suspense builds. Why
did Velan have to die? Is his killer the mysterious stranger with the limp? Or could it be someone
closer home?
Taut and well-paced, Murder in Melur knits together the lives of ordinary people, including folklore
with the larger social and political issues of the day.


Stuart Blackburn lived in Melur and its surrounding villages for two and a half years in the 1970s
as a Peace Corps volunteer. After his doctoral dissertation at Berkeley (1980), he taught at several
universities, primarily SOAS in London. Research for various periods from the 1970s to the present,
mostly in South India but more recently Arunachal Pradesh, has led to the publication of more than
a dozen books on folklore, oral traditions and literature. This is his first novel.