Thursday, 7 June 2018

Book Review: A Murder on Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey.


Book: A Murder on Malabar Hill

Author: Sujata Massey

Pages: 425

Read On: Paperback

Publisher: Penguin

How Long it Took Me To Read: 3 days

Plot Summary: Bombay, 1921. Intrepid and intelligent, young Perveen Mistry joins her father's prestigious law firm to become one of India's first female lawyers. Her tumultuous past also makes her especially devoted to championing and protecting women's rights.
When Mistry Law is appointed to execute the will of Omar Farid, a wealthy mill owner, Perveen's suspicions are aroused by a curious provision which could disinherit Farid's three widows and leave them vulnerable. Are the Farid widows--who live in strict seclusion, never leaving the women's quarters or speaking to men--being duped by an unscrupulous guardian? 
Perveen decides to investigate, but when tensions escalate to murder, it becomes clear that her own life is in mortal peril and she will need to use everything in her power to outwit a dangerous criminal.

General Thoughts: I wanted to read this book since I first heard of it. It's premise and setting called out to me. I am so glad I picked this book up! It's a gem!

Things I Liked:

1. The writing is very good. The author has done a great job bringing this era alive and writing some wonderfully nuanced characters. I can't wait to check out her other works.

2. The premise of this book drew me in and I am so happy to report that it was just as wonderful as I hoped it would be. Bombay in 1921 comes alive in these pages. The place, it's people and the social milieu are chronicled very well. Plus, Bombay in the 1920s sounds delightful and being familiar with the setting I could easily picture the streets and buildings.

3. Praveen Mistry was a fantastic protagonist to get to know and spend time with. She is smart, empathetic and kind and determined. She was wonderful and you find yourself cheering for her and rooting for her in all that she does. She is beautifully crafted and a great fictional role model. Of course, Ms. Mistry is inspired by a real life lawyer Cornelia Sorabji who seems like an incredible woman!

4. The book is split between 1921 and 1916, between Parveen trying to solve a murder in the present and looking back at her marriage and her married life. You would think it might be annoying to keep moving away from the mystery at hand but not in this case. I liked, nay loved looking back at Parveen's life and seeing her whirlwind romance and nuptials and subsequent married life. At some points, to be honest, I couldn't wait to go back to 1916.

5. The mystery itself is nicely done and we are introduced to a family quite different from Parveen's. The Farid family, especially the surviving widows are a world apart from Parveen. Living their lives in strict Purdah and never leaving their home or knowing about their rights or options made for interesting reading.

6. The book is full of wonderful characters. I particularly loved all the Mistrys. They are supportive, kind and good people.  I also liked Alice- Parveen's friend from University.

7. This book will at points make your blood boil. To see the rampant sexism exist in 1921 (so much of it is still present!) and see people resist Parveen and her dreams was just sad and I can only imagine how many women must have gone through a similar ordeal.

8. I really loved this book. Plain and simple this book was a good time. I enjoyed the time I spent with it. It was atmospheric, fun, nostalgic and a deeply engrossing read.

Things I Didn't Like: 

Overall, this was a book I adored.
But the perpetrator was fairly easy to guess and I guessed another twist too.
Not that it took away from me enjoying the book but all said and done this is a mystery and I wish the killer was a bigger surprise.
Another thing- I sort of in the middle of the book began to prefer delving into Parveen's past rather than seeing the Farid mystery unfold.

Rating: 4/5

This is a wonderful book! I hope there are many more in this series.
Also, this book will make you crave some Parsi food ASAP! So be warned!

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