PETALING JAYA: It isn’t every day that a novel penned by a Malaysian author gains worldwide acclaim, and is picked up by an international production company to be developed into a television series.
Yet, that is the happy reality of former police officer turned author Rozlan Mohd Noor, whose crime thriller “21 Immortals” was given glowing reviews by famous American author Michael Connelly, and later bought by a production company that is working to bring it to the television screen.
Speaking to FMT recently, Rozlan, 69, said that he never expected his crime-thriller to be sharing the same shelf as other novels penned by prominent writers in New York, much less having his favourite detective author review his work and give it the thumbs-up.
Connelly’s review printed on the front cover of Rozlan’s novel reads: “Inspector Mislan Latif is my kind of detective. Harry Bosch would ride shotgun with him anytime.” Connelly was referencing Hieronymus ‘Harry’ Bosch, his fictional LAPD detective who features in many of his detective books.
Describing Connelly’s endorsement as a “huge achievement”, Rozlan has remained modest however, about how well his novel has done internationally.
“If you ask me the number of copies sold, I’m not sure and I don’t bother as having my idol reviewing my book is already a win,” he said, adding that he has a big collection of Connelly’s novels at home.
Rozlan, who served 11 years as an investigating officer in various departments in the local police force, has always been an avid reader of the crime thriller genre. He left the police force in 1988 to pursue his MBA, then joined the private sector.
“Back then, I always had a book as my companion. Naturally as a policeman, I was drawn to crime thrillers,” he said.
No doubt, Rozlan drew inspiration for his book from the 300 or more crime cases he worked on during his career as a gun-toting police officer. He said he wrote as a hobby at first but in 2009, he began to entertain thoughts of publishing his book after being prompted by his son.
“One day when I was writing, my son asked to be in my story. He said he wanted to give the book to his teacher. I said it’s not published so he insisted I do it, and the rest is history.”
His debut novel “21 Immortals” was published in 2010 and later developed into a book series involving Inspector Mislan Latif, the main character, who solves a slew of tough-to-crack crimes.
It started with Inspector Mislan solving a homicide case of a mother, father, and son found dead at a dinner table during a “yee sang” feast. So far, Rozlan has written five Inspector Mislan books including “21 Immortals”.
The author explained that he was able to penetrate the international literary market after local publisher Fixi showcased his work at a Frankfurt literary festival in 2019. It was here that his book caught the attention of New York-based publishing company Skyhorse through its arm Arcade CrimeWise.
In August this year, the London-based production company Envision Entertainment obtained the rights to bring Inspector Mislan to the television screen.
Rozlan said what set his novel apart from others of the same genre was its distinct Malaysian feel. “Some readers from the United States said they want to visit Malaysia because of my depiction of streets and local cultures in the novel.
“The readers there are interested in cultures other than their own. As a writer, it helps to remember where you come from when you write,” he said.
But his message remains clear in his novels, that good prevails over evil, in more ways than one.