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The Case of the Missing Servant


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Acclaimed writer Tarquin Hall makes his fiction debut with an Indian detective story

About the Author

Tarquin Hall is a writer and journalist who has lived and worked in much of South Asia, the Middle East, Africa and the US. He is the author of Mercenaries, Missionaries and Misfits- Adventures of an Under-age Journalist; To the Elephant Graveyard; and Salaam Brick Lane- A Year in the New East End. He is married to the journalist Anu Anand and lives in Delhi and London.


Vish Puri's New Delhi detective agency has never been busier, often doing background checks on persons selected for arranged marriages. With his keen skills of observation and deduction, a network of personal contacts, and some modern communication devices, Punjabi Puri claims to be his country's top detective, citing his Super Sleuth award from the World Federation of Detectives for solving the Case of the Missing Polo Elephant in 1999. (He also has an appetite for pakoras and 30 excess pounds and is known to family and friends as Chubby.) A prominent lawyer who asks Puri to find a missing servant is arrested for the young woman's murder when her body is found, requiring complex work by Puri's staff. Meanwhile, he must check out the squeaky-clean fiance of the granddaughter of a revered war hero. And Puri's visiting Mummy-ji undertakes her own search when her son is shot at. In his fiction debut, British journalist Hall (To the Elephant Graveyard)-who lives in London and New Delhi-captures his second country with grace and humor and creates a protagonist able to put more cases in his "conclusively solved" cabinet. An entertaining start (complete with expletives-included glossary) to a promising series. [See Prepub Mystery, LJ 2/1/09; India is hot in the mystery world; in July, St. Martin's is publishing Six Suspects by Vikas Swarup, whose novel Q & A was made into the Academy Award-winning film Slumdog Millionaire.-Ed.]-Michele Leber, Arlington, VA Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

Vish Puri, the head of Delhi's Most Private Investigators Ltd., tackles a rather prosaic domestic case in this first of a projected series, the fiction debut of British author Hall (Salaam Brick Lane). Ajay Kasliwal, a lawyer who has brought cases against corrupt government officials, retains Puri to find a maid, Mary, who has gone missing from his household. Rumor has it that Kasliwal killed Mary because he got her pregnant, and when Mary turns up dead, the authorities arrest Puri's client. While the 51-year-old married detective, who could lose some weight and is affectionately called "Chubby," has a certain quirky charm, the resolution of the mystery of Mary's murder is less than satisfying. Hopefully, a future installment will go into what sounds like a more unusual matter, "the Case of the Missing Polo Elephant," for which Puri won the fictional "Super Sleuth" award in 1999. (June) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

"The most original detective in years. Picture Hercule Poirot with an Indian accent, eating chili pakoras and riding in an auto rickshaw. Tarquin Hall has captured India in a way few Western writers have managed since Kipling. India's humor, commotion and vibrancy bursts from every page, exposing its vast, labyrinthine underbelly. Scintillating!" * Tahir Shah, author of THE CALIPH'S HOUSE *
"A brilliantly written humorous tale that vividly captures the sounds, smells and foibles of modern India" * Ayub Khan Din, writer of East is East *

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