I adore historical fiction and I adore whodunnit mysteries, so I’m never happier than when I have discovered a new historical mystery series. I have found two of them lately that I’ve particularly enjoyed, because they’re both set in India in the 1920s. I don’t know as much about India as I should, and I learned a lot about Indian history and culture in these books, while being well entertained. The detectives are Indian women who set out to gather clues when murder comes their way.
The Widows of Malabar Hill, the first book in the Perveen Mistry series by Sujata Massey, is a page-turner that made me want to read all the rest of the Perveen books, right here, right now. Perveen is India’s one and only female lawyer who works for her father’s firm and handles contracts and paperwork because women can’t appear in court. The story is told in alternating timelines, the actual mystery in 1921 and the history of Perveen’s brief, sad marriage in 1916 and 1917. Perveen and her father are called in to work with a deceased client’s family and estate. The client, Mr. Farid, has passed on and has left three widows in his historic house on Malabar Hill. The three widows live in isolation from men and the world, so only Perveen can explain their husband’s bequests and help them understand how to move forward with their lives. The plot is complicated by murder, abduction, and dark family secrets. I loved this and couldn’t wait to read the next in the series.
There’s only one of the other series (waiting with bated breath for more!), and it’s called The Bangalore Detectives Club, by Harini Nagendra. This first in what better be a new series introduces Kaveri, a young, ambitious woman married to Ramu, a doctor at the hospital in Bangalore. When Kaveri and Ramu attend a fancy dinner at The Century Club, one of the only venues where Indian and white people can mingle, murder interrupts the party. Kaveri witnesses several significant events leading up to the killing, and becomes involved when the police interview her. Kaveri realizes that she knows several people who may or may not be involved in the crime, and her sense of duty leads her to follow up with family members and servants who might be able to answer her questions. Kaveri is an intelligent and caring heroine. And I’ll admit it, I skipped to the end to see who did it, but I am still going back and reading the whole thing because I want to see how the mystery unfolds. Looking forward to another in this series for sure!
The other Perveen Mistry books are:
The Satapur Moonstone by Sujata Massey (Book Two)
The Bombay Prince by Sujata Massey (Book Three)