Author: Sujata Massey
Copy courtesy of the publisher: Allen & Unwin
This is the first book by author Sujata Massey in a new mystery murder series.
The story is set between 1916 and 1921 and follows the life of Perveen Mistry who gained her law degree through Oxford and upon her return to Bombay has joined her father’s law firm, becoming one of the first female lawyers in India.
Perveen is given a case relating to the will of Mr Omar Farid, a wealthy mill owner who has left three widows behind; Razia, Sakina and Mumtaz and their children. All three widows live together in strict seclusion from the outside world.
Perveen’s suspicions arise as she reviews the paperwork and feels the women are vulnerable to injustice living as Purdahnashins, they have signed their inheritance to a charity and she is concerned that they could not read or fully understand the document given to them by agent Mr Mukri who their husband left in charge of his estate.
Perveen speaks to the women directly to communicate if they understood their rights and what they have signed is a legal document. Mr Mukri is angry over Perveen speaking to the women and feels she is interfering. Following her visit, the agent is murdered and the widow’s fall under suspicion. Perveen fears for their lives and gains as much evidence to find out what’s really happening at Malabar Hill.
Although the novel wasn’t difficult to solve there is a likeness to Agatha Christie’s great crime investigations which I thoroughly enjoy. The novel contained a great history of religious beliefs and cultural Purdah practices in the wealthy neighbourhoods of Bombay.
Perveen Mistry is a lovely character, well-rounded and with a good balance of independence and vulnerability. The plot is well-written, with some interesting twists. If you’re looking for a fun little mystery, this book is for you.
A selection of our Beauty and Lace Club members are reading A Murder at Malabar Hill. You can read their comments below, or add your own review!
My love of books started at a very young age. My mum has always been a reader and encouraged me to read, buying me endless book from classic fairy tales advancing to the world of Enid Blyton, CS Lewis, Louisa May Alcott, Kathryn Kenny, Carolyn Keene, Francine Pascal. In my adult years the list of authors is endless and every room in my house is filled with books.
One of my favourite novels is Narnia which has always has a special place in my heart. I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in 1978 and when I was given this book to read it let me escape to another world where I felt like I was in the book with all the characters, it wasfun and exciting to escape from reality and eased the ups and downs of the disease at such a young age.
In books nothing is impossible and there is endless potential and hundreds of places to explore or being taken to places that are only made up from the authors’ great minds, the past and future to navigate, characters lives you step into taking you on an emotional rollercoaster ride or being scared out of your wits. I can experience things that I can’t in real life because they’re not possible or real. It challenges my perspective and mindset expanding my worldview.
I find joy, comfort and peace with books, many people may not get it, but I know bookworms like me truly understand. Reading makes my heart happy.