The Case of the Missing Servant by Tarquin Hall
|The Case of the Missing Servant by Tarquin Hall
|Reviewer: Louise Laurie
|Summary: We're in India with the irrepressible PI Vish Puri. Poirot-esque in method and some characteristics he sets out to solve some of Delhi's problems in his own inimitable style.
|Date: August 2010
|Publisher: Arrow Books Ltd
We concentrate in and around bustling Delhi and straight away Hall gives a great description of his main character. Once seen, never forgotten apparently. And as if that were not enough to be going on with, we're also given the low-down on his 'team.' Their nicknames are very funny and all of this delightful information gives the reader a taste of what's to come later in the book. I can't resist giving one explanation. Puri has several undercover operatives (I'm smiling to myself just recalling it) one of whom is called Flush. Why? Simple. ... he had a flush toilet in his home, a first for anyone in his remote village in ... You just cannot help but smile, you really can't. And this gentle humour runs throughout the book.
Puri has a (long-suffering) wife Rumpi, a grown-up family (in the background) and an interfering mother (present with her terrific retorts in spades). It's all bustling with well, busi-ness and gentle indignation now and again alongside Puri's self-importance. He probably thinks that Delhi is very lucky to have him. And yes, I loved him straight away. I want to meet him and his lovely family, in the flesh. Hall has created a larger-than-life character who everyone, I'm sure, will adore.
Puri goes (in his beautifully polished shoes) where angels fear to tread. No case is either too small or too big for Puri. He believes he is carrying out a necessary service for his country. I can just see his puffed-up cheeks as I write this. In truth, most of his business is of the matrimonial kind - husbands playing around etc. For example, in one of his cases He was on the brink of saving a young woman from a terrible fate and bringing an unscrupulous individual to account. All great fun and not to be taken too seriously. Puri takes it seriously for all of his.
Hall gives us plenty to smile about. From the officious signs everywhere, in English, with the odd - ahem - spelling mistake. Puri's funny little back to front sentences. The local middle-classes living as if in some English village while all around is traffic chaos, dust and poverty. Here and there Hall does touch on the poverty of the country, but he doesn't dwell on it. That's for other writers in other books.
When Puri gets a case, he's like a dog with a bone. He will not rest until a proper conclusion is reached. And when Hall describes Puri's various means and methods to get the job done, it's heartwarming and hilarious in almost equal measure. Yes, there are passing similarities to Mma Ramotswe. But I didn't care. There's plenty of room for both of them. Different countries ...
This is a book with an in-built feel-good factor. I loved it and I am looking forward to Puri's next case. Highly recommended.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.
If this bok appeals then we think that you'll love Inspector Singh Investigates: A Most Peculiar Malaysian Murder by Shamini Flint. You might also like to look at Family Planning by Karan Mahajan although we had our reservations.
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You can read more book reviews or buy The Case of the Missing Servant by Tarquin Hall at Amazon.com.
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