Acclaimed writer Tarquin Hall makes his fiction debut with an Indian detective story
Meet Vish Puri, India’s most private investigator. Portly, persistent and unmistakably Punjabi, he cuts a determined swathe through modern India’s swindlers, cheats and murderers.
In hot and dusty Delhi, where call centres and malls are changing the ancient fabric of Indian life, Puri’s main work comes from screening prospective marriage partners, a job once the preserve of aunties and family priests.
But when an honest public litigator is accused of murdering his maidservant, it takes all of Puri’s resources to investigate. How will he trace the fate of the girl, known only as Mary, in a population of more than one billion? Who is taking pot shots at him and his prize chilli plants? And why is his widowed ‘Mummy-ji’ attempting to play sleuth when everyone knows Mummies are not detectives?
With his team of undercover operatives – Tubelight, Flush and Facecream – Puri ingeniously combines modern techniques with principles of detection established in India more than two thousand years ago -- long before ‘that Johnny-come-lately’ Sherlock Holmes donned his Deerstalker.
The search for Mary takes him to the desert oasis of Jaipur and the remote mines of Jharkhand. From his well-heeled Gymkhana Club to the slums where the servant classes live, Puri’s adventures reveal modern India in all its seething complexity.
“A brilliantly written humorous tale that vividly captures the sounds, smells and foibles of modern India”
Ayub Khan Din, writer of East is East
“Lively and quick-paced ... What Cara Black does for Paris, Hall achieves for India”
“Tubby, ingenious and hilarious, Delhi's most trusted PI, Vish Puri, is not easily forgotten. Properly disdainful of unoriginal crime-busters like Sherlock Holmes and James Bond, his unique methods of detection deserve to be widely known and feted.”
DAVID DAVIDAR, author of The Solitude of Emperors
“Entertaining...Hall combines an insider's insight with the eclectic eye of a good foreign correspondent.... The very opposite of the "exoticism" of which this kind of fiction is often accused. Instead of escaping into "another world", western readers are encouraged to see an unflattering reflection of their own values and desires.”
“This intriguing book is in essence a modern Indian take on the adventures of Agatha Christie's famous detective Hercule Poirot... The detective certainly bears resemblance to his understated Belgian colleague... The vibrancy and the vastness of the Indian sub-continent, combined with the appeal of a solid thriller, certainly raise curiosity.”
“A seething slice of the sub-continent”
“An amusing, timely whodunit ... Hall has woven his impressive knowledge of India into a tautly constructed novel that is a highly readable introduction to the country for newcomers”
“India, captured in all its pungent, vivid glory, fascinates almost as much as the crime itself”
“[Hall] captures his second country with grace and humor and creates a protagonist able to put more cases in his "conclusively solved" cabinet. An entertaining start (complete with expletives-included glossary) to a promising series”
Library Journal (starred review)
“Hall turns to fiction with the debut of what promises to be an outstanding series....An excellent, delightfully humorous mystery with an unforgettable cast of characters, The Case of the Missing Servant immediately joins the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency as representing the best in international cozies”
Booklist (starred review)
“Offers penetrating insights into the new India”
New York Times
“Tarquin Hall is a distinguished journalist and has no problem marshalling details to create a sense of what everyday life is like in Delhi: the smell of chat and kachoris seems to waft from the page, as indeed does the stench of political corruption”
“The most original detective in years. Picture Hercule Poirot with an Indian accent, eating chili pakoras and riding in an auto rickshaw. Tarquin Hall has captured India in a way few Western writers have managed since Kipling. India's humor, commotion and vibrancy bursts from every page, exposing its vast, labyrinthine underbelly. Scintillating!”
Tahir Shah, author of THE CALIPH'S HOUSE