The Case of the Missing Servant by Tarquin Hall
Vish Puri, known to close friends and family as Chubby, is a portly, Punjabi private investigator in Delhi. Vish’s investigative techniques combine the ancient wisdom of his hero Chanakya and the modern technology of wiretapping.
In The Case of the Missing Servant, Most Private Investigators Ltd is busy with several investigations. Of top priority is clearing the name of a prominent lawyer who is accused of murdering his maidservant. At the same time, the firm is busy with its bread and butter work screening prospective marriage partners for worried parents.
Missing servants and mysterious young men are routine work for Most Private Investigators Ltd, but not without danger. As Vish waters his chili plants one morning, a goonda tries to kill him. Hai! Can Vish solve his cases while dodging an unknown assailant?
Of course, there is never any doubt that the wily Vish will survive, and that the cases will be “conclusively solved.”
The Case of the Missing Servant mimics the traditional British murder mystery so closely as almost to be a spoof. But Hall’s portrayal of modern India in all its tattered splendor takes this novel beyond the stereotypical who–done-it. The characters are colorful and the dialogue sprightly. (The glossary of Hindi words and phrases includes expletives as well as Indian cuisine.) This promises to be a wonderful series, and I look forward to the next Vish Puri mystery, The Case of the Man Who Died Laughing. (June 2010)