Friday, August 7, 2015

The Case of the Missing Servant

I try to read series in order.  OK, I'm a bit obsessive about it.  If I'm binge-reading an older series, I'll stop (for months, years even) before jumping a gap on my shelf.  Sometimes, though (usually when my mom has discovered a new author), I start with the second or third book in a series.  That's how I discovered Tarquin Hall's Vish Puri, Delhi-based private investigator and chow hound.  Hall is a mid-list author, though, so it took me a while to find the first book in the series.

It was worth waiting for The Case of the Missing Servant.  Like most first installments, it's a bit heavy on exposition, but Vish Puri, his operatives Tubelight, Facecream, and Flush, and Mummy-Ji appear fully developed in their first appearances, and unlike several other books I've reviewed, Tarquin Hall knows how to handle a subplot.

Brahmin judge Ajay Kasliwal's maid Mary has disappeared, and he's been accused of killing her.  He's innocent, but he also doesn't know where Mary is, or even if she's alive.  Puri sends Facecream into the Kasilwal home as Mary's replacement where she learns the household's secrets.  Adding this information to the rumors Tubelight overhears and his own information from the local police, Puri tracks down Mary and serves justice with kindness.  All while dealing with an attempt on his life and  fielding angry calls from another client, a general who wants him to investigate his on-the-shelf daughter's noveau riche fiancé.  Puri handles this case with discretion, while Mummy-Ji (as usual) goes against her son's wishes to solve the more personal crime.

Tarquin Hall has written four Vish Puri novels so far, and the two I've read have contained well-plotted mysteries and some light domestic comedy.  They're well-balanced books, neither total fluff nor serious books which require deep concentration, so I hope the series becomes a long-runner.

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