#Bookvent – Celebrating my top reads of 2020
My day nine #bookvent selection is by an author whose previous books I have really enjoyed. This book marks a change of pace and of character, but was one I was really intrigued and excited to read about. A murder mystery set in India in 1950, a time of great flux for the newly freed nation – what better setting for a novel? And with our new protagonist being somewhat of an anomaly in the Indian police force, it made for a very interesting concept. I don’t read a lot of historical fiction, it’s more Mandie’s thing than mine, but I absolutely could not resist this one. Great characters, great story, brilliant sense of place – I was not disappointed. My day nine pick is …
Midnight At Malabar House by Vaseem Khan
Bombay, New Year’s Eve, 1949
As India celebrates the arrival of a momentous new decade, Inspector Persis Wadia stands vigil in the basement of Malabar House, home to the city’s most unwanted unit of police officers. Six months after joining the force she remains India’s first female police detective, mistrusted, sidelined and now consigned to the midnight shift.
And so, when the phone rings to report the murder of prominent English diplomat Sir James Herriot, the country’s most sensational case falls into her lap.
As 1950 dawns and India prepares to become the world’s largest republic, Persis, accompanied by Scotland Yard criminalist Archie Blackfinch, finds herself investigating a case that is becoming more political by the second. Navigating a country and society in turmoil, Persis, smart, stubborn and untested in the crucible of male hostility that surrounds her, must find a way to solve the murder – whatever the cost.
Oh I loved this book. What a start to a series and what a pair of characters in Persis Wadia and Archie Blackfinch. to say they are chalk and cheese really is underplaying the differences between them and yet the chemistry is perfect – they really do compliment each other too. As a character Persis is superb. The first female Inspector in the Indian police force, she really is swimming against the tide. Assigned to a squad of misfits, she is assigned a case where the stakes are high but. the expectations low. In truth it is questionable how far anyone really wants her to go with nthe investigation and when faced with an almost instant confession, it seems that the case is over before it began. But Persis is determined, curious and not so easily swayed and I loved that about her as a character. She goes out on a limb to see real justice done, in spite of the risk to her career and her life, taking Blackfinch along for the very bumpy ride. Set against a backdrop of post partition India, I learned more about this part of history than I I expected and this was as enjoyable and interesting as the murder mystery that it frames. Very much a murder mystery in the style of the best Agatha Chrstie’s novels, this is a series I would love to see run and run and would urge any one to read. Vaseem Khan has a brilliant way of creating setting and putting readers at the heart of the cities and landscapes they visit, as well as creating all the tension and excitement you could want from a novel, Brilliant stuff.
To read my full review, you can find it here.
Happy #bookvent reading all