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Midnight at Malabar House Copertina rigida – 20 agosto 2020
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*** WINNER OF THE CWA SAPERE BOOKS HISTORICAL DAGGER 2021, and an INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER ***
'The leading character is the deftly drawn Persis Wadia, the country's first female detective. She's a wonderful creation and this is a hugely enjoyable book' ANN CLEEVES
'This is historical crime fiction at its best - a compelling mix of social insight and complex plotting with a thoroughly engaging heroine. A highly promising new series' MAIL ON SUNDAY
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.
'A cracking mystery' ELLY GRIFFITHS
'Stylish, thrilling and masterfully told' CHRIS WHITAKER
- Editore : Hodder & Stoughton (20 agosto 2020)
- Lingua : Inglese
- Copertina rigida : 336 pagine
- ISBN-10 : 147368546X
- ISBN-13 : 978-1473685468
- Peso articolo : 500 g
- Dimensioni : 15.8 x 3.2 x 23.6 cm
- Posizione nella classifica Bestseller di Amazon: n. 52,186 in Mistero
- Recensioni dei clienti:
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Add to this heady mix a feisty female police officer trying to make an impression in an all male institution. And, now throw in, at the stroke of midnight, on New Year’s Eve, a murder taking place in a full house of revellers.
The author paints a vivid picture of this new world. A world where privilege and entitlement rubs shoulders with beggars and land workers trying to scrape a living at a time of drought. All the sights, sounds and smells are brought to life for the reader as the murder investigation gets underway.
What Khan conjures up for us is almost a Christie-esque scene - the big house party, full of potential suspects; the gruesome murder; the victim - minus his trousers and the final scene where the police officer lures her suspects to gather for the final showdown where the killer is finally revealed.
It is a beautifully crafted book, with an almost comfortable, ‘Sunday evening TV’ feel about it. Interesting story, characters and dialogue. I enjoyed reading it.
Perveen is 'India's first woman lawyer'. Persis Wadia is 'India's first woman detective'.
Perveen and Persis are both based in Bombay.
Both are Parsee women - a convenient way to explain away their willingness to be so unconventional it would seem; a part of local society but also apart from local society.
Both fight the sexism and prejudices of their colleagues.
Both are tenacious in their determination to find justice.
Both have unfortunate past love affairs.
The only key difference is that Perveen's stories predate Persis Wadia's by around 30 years.
I know that trends in writing are not unusual but the coincidences between these two series are more striking than most.
But................let's put that aside and get on with the book.
1. The setting, just after the end of Empire, is an interesting one, as is our dead victim.
There's still a great deal of festering resentment to unpack and examine. Most of the Brits have gone home but our dead man has been investigating crimes associated with Partition. Might he be a 'good egg' who really cares about India, or will Persis find he's rather more out for himself? He's murdered at his own New Year's Eve party, left without his trousers, with a slit throat and the burning embers of some hastily incinerated papers in his fireplace.
2. The exploration of not only Partition in 1947 but also unrest in the Punjab arising from the infamous Jallianwallahbagh Massacre back in 1919 is to be commended. There aren't enough books looking at those important events and the massacre and its impact on one of the characters is handled in a very interesting way. The sins of the father are still very much visited on the son. Khan also manages to squeeze in murderous behaviour in Burma during WW2. I applaud the history lessons that he offers.
3. After a very slow start, the book picks up pace in the second half and the plot thickens considerably. I was very close to spotting the killer but not quite there - right reasons, wrong person. I always appreciate a story that logically leads us to a rational conclusion
1. Persis is not a convincing female protagonist. There's very little about her that suggests the author really has any idea how to write a female character. Aside from the odd bit of flirtation with her British side-kick, you could pretty much go through the book, switch the pronouns and replace her with a man. I didn't buy her as an authentic character at all.
2. The first half is a drag. It's a slow plod around Bombay as we're introduced to a wide cast of characters, none of whom really get going until over halfway through.
3. The tactic of "let's give the case to the least experienced detective who's sure to screw it up but then again, maybe not" is straight out of the book of classic procedural devices for Indian crime novels. It popped up a few days ago in the last book I read (The Waiter by Ajay Chowdhury) and it was so obvious as to be almost insulting.
In short, it's a mixed batch of a book. I will read the next two - possibly in the wrong order - and see if they develop further. I'd prefer my 'first woman detective' to be a bit more three dimensional. Let's see if she improves with familiarity.