Archive for June, 2010|Monthly archive page

From the Files of Vish Puri Most Private Investigator Series by Tarquin Hall

If you are a fan of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith, give Tarquin Hall’s two mysteries a try. From the Files of Vish Puri Most Private Investigator series titles are The Case of the Missing Servant and The Case of the Man Who Died Laughing. Mr. Vish Puri is a rotund little Punjabi gentleman who considers himself a master of disguise and is a lover of all things fried and spicy. He has a team of operatives with very entertaining working names who follow his every direction in each investigation — Facecream, Tubelight, Flush, Handbrake and others. In The Case of the Man Who Died Laughing, Mr. Vish Puri does not even have a client. He is so incensed by the murder of a prominent Indian scholar and rationalist supposedly by the multi-armed goddess Kali that he decides to solve the murder himself. The murder occurs in the circle meeting of the weekly Laughing Club on a very popular walking boulevard in downtown Delhi leaving several very confused eyewitnesses. The number one suspect is Maharaj Swami, a popular spiritual leader who has a vast and well-paying following. The politicians do not want to offend him in any way. Inspector Singh does not appreciate the political maneuverings of the police department to avoid actual pursuit of a human murderer and welcomes Mr. Vish Puri’s help in solving the crime.

The characterizations are very entertaining, including his wife Rumpi and his Mummy-ji who are investigating a crime of their own – the theft of the pot from the latest “Kitty Party”. Tarquin Hall does not belittle the Indian people nor does he make light of the problems of corruption in India. He is a British journalist who has lived in many parts of the world and written three works of nonfiction, including an account of a year spent above a Bangladeshi sweatshop in London’s notorious East End. The Hall family divides its time between London and Delhi. He is married to Indian-born journalist Anu Anand, and they have one son.


The Map of True Places by Brunonia Barry

The Map of True Places, by Brunonia Barry, is a thoughtful, happy/sad novel centered on Hepzibah (known as Zee) Finch and her small circle of friends and family. Her life activities, especially her career as a therapist, are built on the foundation of having a mother who was bipolar and committed suicide in front of Zee when she was still a child. Set in Boston, Salem and the surrounding areas, historical events also share a part in the plot – from her father living across the street from THE House of Seven Gables and being one of the country’s most renowned Hawthorne scholars to the recreated Friendship sailing boat serving as a tourist attraction and a teaching center. Zee’s past and present overlap as she has a client patient (Lilly) who is bipolar and acts out in many ways as Zee’s mother Maureen had. The loving home created for her after her mother’s death by her father, simply known as Finch to everyone, and his significant other, known as Melville, helped Zee to have a more stable adolescence once she was forced to quit stealing people boats and taking them for a ride to be abandoned in various ports around the area. Finch’s advancing condition of Parkinson’s Disease and dementia hold Zee in place as she tries to sort out her life – her broken engagement, her career, her new love interest, her relationship to her “fathers”, uncle and her friends. Behind everything else is the menace she feels from the man she is sure caused the death of Lilly, although she is unable to convince anyone that he is a very real danger in the past and the present.

This is Brunonia Barry’s second novel. Her first The Lace Reader was on the New York Times best-seller list for several weeks. The Lace Reader is scheduled to be one of the books used in Marlene’s monthly book discussions in the 2010 – 2011 fiscal year.