The Case of the Deadly Butter Chicken (Vish Puri Mysteries) by Tarquin Hall
|The Case of the Deadly Butter Chicken (Vish Puri Mysteries) by Tarquin Hall|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: Well-constructed and very readable crime set in India - and Pakistan, to the horror of Vish Puri. Highly recommended.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 368||Date: July 2013|
|External links: Author's website|
For those of us have not met Vish Puri before he's a private investigator, based in Delhi. He's also a gourmet and more than a little bit overweight. It's not for nothing that his wife calls him Chubby. His current case is a little unusual: he's called in to investigate the theft of a moustache. Vish is no slouch in the facial furniture stakes, but his client is the champion and the loss is more than just an embarrassment. Then, to complicate matters Vish is present at a post-match cricket dinner when the father of a top Pakistani player dies - from poison in his butter chicken. When Vish is called in to investigate he has to become involved with the continent's mafias. And he has to travel to Pakistan. Yes - it's that serious.
I did wonder if there might be a disadvantage to joining a series at number three but the book reads surprisingly well as a standalone. I never felt at a loss as to what was happening but I doubt that there was so much recapping that a regular reader would be bored. The story is good - reaching deep into Pakistan and back to partition in 1947 and giving a real feel for what it was like then and why matters stand as they do now. It was informative, but delivered with a very light touch. Much of this is down to the use of Vish's mother - Mummy-ji with whom he's sworn never to work - but is there any way to bottom this case without her help?
Too often a generic story is set is an exotic location, seemingly for no better reason than to give it a bit of Oomph. Here India is a character in its own right and you get a real feel for the people and the social mores. Vish's next door neighbours sold their ancestral lands for a vast sum and built a house for the extended family. It has a helipad and looks like a cross between the White House and the Taj Mahal, but each evening the family sits outside their front gate, at the side of the road, much as they would have done on their land. Vish doesn't plan on getting to know them.
He hadn't planned on going to Pakistan, either. In fact he'd sworn that he would never set foot in the country, but when he does he's surprised by how similar people are - and how helpful. There's an elegant pointing up of the volatile situation where neighbours who have come to war on several occasions have nuclear weapons.
There's an extensive glossary at the back of the book. Pop your bookmark in there as you read - you'll find that it's gold dust.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.
For more crime from India we can recommend Mrs D'Silva's Detective Instincts and the Shaitan of Calcutta by Glen Peters or for more from Vish Puri, have a look at The Case of the Missing Servant.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Case of the Deadly Butter Chicken (Vish Puri Mysteries) by Tarquin Hall at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Case of the Deadly Butter Chicken (Vish Puri Mysteries) by Tarquin Hall at Amazon.com.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.