THE CASE OF THE MISSING SERVANT - Tarquin Hall

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Book Title: 
The Case of the Missing Servant
ISBN: 
9780099525233
Series: 
Vish Puri
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Book Synopsis

The portly Vish Puri is India’s most accomplished detective, at least in his own estimation, and is also the hero of an irresistible new mystery series set in hot, dusty Delhi. Puri’s detective skills are old-fashioned in a Sherlock Holmesian way and a little out of sync with the tempo of the modern city, but Puri is clever and his methods work.

The Case of the Missing Servant shows Puri (“Chubby” to his friends) and his wonderfully nicknamed employees (among them, Handbrake, Flush, and Handcream) hired for two investigations. The first is into the background of a man surprisingly willing to wed a woman her father considers unmarriageable, and the second is into the disappearance six months earlier of a servant to a prominent Punjabi lawyer, a young woman known only as Mary.

The Most Private Investigator novels offer a delicious combination of ingenious stories, brilliant writing, sharp wit, and a vivid, unsentimental picture of contemporary India. And from the first to the last page run an affectionate humour and intelligent insights into both the subtleties of Indian culture and the mysteries of human behaviour.

Book Review

Two initial observations - book covers, especially for some reason, I've noticed, when the books are Sub-Continent or Asian based, can't be trusted; and we need a new genre - something along the lines of Food Crime Porn. The latter for the sort of books that describe food that would make you care less about the surrounding crime wave - something THE CASE OF THE MISSING SERVANT specialises in. The earlier comment because something odd seems to be going on - Shamini Flint's books aren't strictly cosy but the covers are, whereas the covers for the paperbacks of this series don't exactly scream funny. I do love these titles though, particularly as they really suit the somewhat old-worldly environment of Vish Puri's India. Needless to say, THE CASE OF THE MISSING SERVANT is a little bit cosy, a little bit Sub-Continental Poirot, a little bit Food Crime, and big bit of good fun.

What's so much fun about these books is the larger than life character of Puri. Not just physically, Puri is a man who also dominates his world with a larger than life personality. Dedicated to his profession of Private Detective, he is not a man given to doubts about his own ability. He has a way about him when it comes to nicknames, managing his big team of operatives and dealing with the complications of a mother who thinks she's a bit of a detective in her own right.

The humour is dry, rather laid-back and feels very accurate, albeit stereotypical. There's a vague feeling of a longing for The Raj which might worry some readers, although to be fair, I thought there was more affection than ridicule. The plot is, however, very much standard Christie type fare, and whilst these books are definitely more on the cosy side than I'd normally look for, the humour and the food (oh the food) made THE CASE OF THE MISSING SERVANT a nice way to pass some time.

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