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!