Thursday, April 8, 2010

"Vish Puri, founder and managing director of Most Private Investigators Ltd., sat alone in a room in a guesthouse in ... South Delhi ..."

Since I first heard of Tarquin Hall's new mystery series set in India, I wanted to read it.  I needed to move away from English detective stories for a bit!  The first book, The Case of the Missing Servant, is culturally fascinating with a strong plot and larger than life characters and I can't wait for the second book to come out in June.

Vish (rhymes with "wish") Puri is a private detective in Delhi.  In fact, he is an award winning detective -- having won the Super Sleuth award in 1999 from the World Federation of Detectives.  His motto is "Confidentiality is our watchword".  He has a network of assistants who have imaginative nicknames like Facecream and Handbrake.  Vish himself is called "Chubby" -- an apt nickname for a man who just can't give up the tasty fried delights of his country.

A lawyer comes to Puri for his help in proving his innocence in the disappearance of a servant girl from his home.  Unfortunately, things move quickly around Ajay Kasliwal's case once a body is found that might have been the servant girl's.  Puri must find out what truly happened to Mary--a girl with only one known name and no known hometown--before Kasliwal is tried for a crime he swears he didn't commit.

This story is full of local details -- from the poor state of the public utilities to the growth of the call center and tech industries.  We also learn that the Indian justice system is in disarray when it is compared to Dickens' Chancery, as seen in Bleak House.  With a fourteen page glossary at the back of the book, Hall feels free to use local colloquialisms and the authentic Hindi for things like food and swearwords.  I thought that he did a fantastic job of transporting me to India and I felt he used situations unique to the country in the cases that he invented.  This story felt fresh and interesting and I hope the series continues on in the same way.

Practicing my Hindi swearwords for no particular reason,

Support our site and buy The Case of the Missing Servant on Amazon or find it at your local library. We bought our own copy.


  1. Hmm, Hindi swearwords I'll have to check it out.

  2. this sounds a great read - i will look out for it

    Happy Thursday

  3. I've been curious about this one, so I'm happy to see someone reviewing it! :)

  4. Al - I thought it was a bit funny to have glossary that included some salty phrases!

    Hannah - I hope you pick it up. It's bound to be a fun series.

    Eva - I think that you will like some of the strong female characters in the book. Puri's mother is hilarious!

    Jenners - I like taking the "easy" way and exploring different cultures in lighter reads. Mysteries are definitely great for this!

  5. I have this one on my list, too. It sounds like fun and I also need to try something other than British cozies! Besides, it's not often you can learn swear words in Hindi!

  6. Danielle - It was a really quick read and was definitely a good alternative to the British cozy!