Sunday, March 14, 2010

Book Recommendation: The Case of the Missing Servant

I just finished reading a quirky little book by Tarquin Hall, called The Case of the Missing Servant. It was something I spotted at the library a couple of weeks ago, and I was attracted to because of its setting in India - Delhi, to be specific.  I've gone through a few phases of my reading life where I simply cannot resist books that are set in India; actually, I'm not sure I've ever really left this phase, as I'm still drawn to such novels.  A few of my favourites have been Rohington Mistry's A Fine Balance (any of his novels, really), Shauna Singh Baldwin's What the Body Remembers, and Gregory David Robert's Shantaram, but there have been many (many) books I've loved that have been set in India.

While I wouldn't call this latest read by Hall one of my favourites, it was a very enjoyable read.  It was quirky in the same way that the Alexander McColl Smith's Lady Detective Agency books are quirky, in that it's unusual, set in a simple setting, featuring a quirky and loveable detective, and an interesting crime.  But I think this one had more depth to it than McColl Smith's books, and I hope that Hall writes more about Detective Vish Puri.  Here's a clip from The New York Times on July 07, 2009:

Portly, persistent and unmistakably Punjabi, Vish Puri cuts a determined swathe through modern India’s cheats, swindlers and murderers.
In hot and dusty Delhi, where call centers 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 potshots at him and his prize chili 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.
I'd recommend this book as an easy and fun read - it's the first in what I hope will be a series.

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