Oru Police Surgoente Ormakuripukal, the fascinating memoir of Dr. B Umadathan, first published in 2010 by DC Books, is being translated to English by academic Priya K Nair. Priya K. Nair is a formidable translator who has translated books exploring the complex paradigms of gender and sexuality. Titled, Dead Men Tell Tales, published by HarperCollins India, the book is expected to release in March, this gripping memoir is raw and unfiltered to the core.
Dr B Umadathan is a renowned forensic surgeon who has worked on spine chilling cases like the Sister Abhaya case (1992) and the Chacko murders (1984). Oru Police Surgeonte Ormakkurippukal, his first book is an anthology of cases he was involved in during 40 years of professional life. Although it is not an autobiography, the narrative includes references to key moments of his personal life as well. In the years that followed, he published three more books: Kuttanweshanathile Vaidya Shastram (2014), Crime Keralam: Keralathinte Kuttanweshna charithram (2016) and Kapalam (2019).
Umadathan was also popularly known as the Sherlock Holmes of Kerala. His cases shook the nation and seemed like plots right out of a gruesome murder novel. Unlike Arthur Conan Doyle, Umadathan’s literary works and professional career are inseparable.
Born in 1946 in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, Umadathan completed his MBBS and MD from Thiruvananthapuram Medical College and began his career in 1969 as a tutor in forensic medicine at the same institution. He was inspired to take up forensic science—the branch of study that deals with the application of medical science in crime detection—by Dr. Kanthasami who taught the subject in his third year. Later, he served as a police surgeon, the medico-legal expert of Kerala Police, principal of Thiruvananthapuram Medical College, director of the medical education department, medico-legal consultant of the Libyan-Arab Republic and director of forensic medicine at Amrita Institute of Medical Science.
Each book is written in a style that is crisp and direct, with an emphasis on making domain-specific technical knowledge accessible to readers outside that domain. The acuity of facts in his descriptions is skilfully imbued with the charm of fiction.