The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey
In 1920s Bombay, Perveen Mistry, the Oxford educated daughter of a respected Zoroastrian family, has just joined her father’s law firm, becoming one of the first female lawyers in India.
Mistry Law is appointed to execute the will of Mr. Omar Farid, a wealthy Muslin mill owner who has left three widows behind. But as Perveen examines the paperwork, she becomes suspicious. Are the Farid widows, who live in full purdah (strict seclusion), being taking advantage of by an unscrupulous guardian? When during the course of her investigation, a murder takes place at the Farid home, she realizes her suspicions are justified.
Not an especially suspenseful mystery, but Perveen is an engaging character and the historical detail is interesting.
Sujata Massey is also the author of eleven award-winning novels featuring Rei Shimura, an American English teacher in Japan. (I haven’t read them.) The Widows of Malabar Hill is the first novel in the Perveen Mistry series.
Perveen was inspired in part by the life of Cornelia Sorabji, India’s first female attorney. Read more about Sorabji here.
Zoroastrianism is the ancient pre-Islamic religion of Iran that survives there in isolated areas and, more prosperously, in India, where the descendants of Zoroastrian Iranian (Persian) immigrants are known as Parsis.
Other mysteries which take place in present or past India: