Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Book Review: The Satapur Moonstone by Sujata Massey


Book: The Satapur Moonstone

Author: Sujata Massey

Pages: 375

Read: The Paperback Edition pictured above

Read in: 3.5 hours

Plot Summary: India, 1922. 

A curse seems to have fallen upon the royal family of Satapur, a princely kingdom tucked away in the lush Sahyadari mountains, where both the maharaja and his teenage son have met with untimely deaths. The state is now ruled by an agent of the British Raj on behalf of Satapur's two maharanis, the dowager queen and her daughter-in-law.

When a dispute arises between the royal ladies over the education of the young crown prince, a lawyer's counsel is required to settle the matter. Since the maharanis live in purdah, the one person who can help is Perveen Mistry, Bombay's only female lawyer. But Perveen arrives to find that the Satapur Palace is full of cold-blooded power play and ancient vendettas.
Too late she realizes she has walked into a trap. But whose? And how can she protect the royal children from the palace's deadly curse?

General Thoughts: This is Sujata Massey's second book based on Perveen Mistry, one of the only woman solicitors in British India. We read and loved A Murder on Malabar Hill by Massey last year and we loved it! Read the review of that book here. So, when heard that the second book in the series- The Satapur Moonstone - was out, we simply had to get our hands on it! 

Things I Liked: 
1. The premise is very interesting. A royal family with two mysterious deaths in a short span of time! Obviously, it can't be a coincidence! So, something sinister is at play and palace intrigues can be oh-so-interesting! The book delivers in spades of messed up family dynamics, a mysterious royal enemy lurking in the shadows and various attempts at poisoning the next Maharaja and Perveen herself! So, the premise does live up to its exciting promise! 

2. I loved meeting Perveen again. She is such a dignified yet assertive, honourable and strong woman. She is very focused on doing her duty and what is right even at the risk of harm to herself. I liked that she was traveling alone on a government assignment and even though she was nervous, she overcomes all her misgivings and handles whatever is thrown at her with great presence of mind. 

3. I also really liked Colin Sandringham, ICS Officer and agent to the state of Satapur. A saheb, who was quite assimilated to India and the Indian ways of doing things. He is not one for asserting his power over people without just cause and I liked the budding romance between him and Perveen! 

4. The actual mystery of the Satapur palace is very interesting as well. Though, it is easy to guess who the killer is, the whole journey of figuring out the motive and so on is nicely done. There are a few red herrings as well, which is something I always appreciate! 

5. As with A Murder on Malabar Hill, the attention paid to historical details is quite impressive. The whole era is brought alive and the dynamics between the princely states and British India is brought out very well. There are also some mentions of the nascent Freedom Movement, which makes me hope for the next book to include more of that in the backdrop. 

6. As always, the writing is very good. I savoured the book and was reluctant to read too fast because I wanted to stay immersed in the world of 1922. 

Rating: 4.5/5

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