Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Case of the Missing Servant by Tarquin Hall

The Case of the Missing Servant (Vish Puri, Most Private Investigator, #1)

Vish Puri, affectionately referred to as chubby by his closest friends, spends his days managing his detective agency, Most Private Investigators LTD and secretly indulging in his favorite fried foods. While he primarily earns his bread and butter by conducting pre-matrimonial comprehensive investigations, Puri is confident he can handle any case that is thrown his way. Kasliwal, a prominent outspoken Pubjabi lawyer set on reforming the justice system has been accused of murdering his former maid servant and is given only seven days to produce the missing girl or face legal repercussion. Untrusting of the police, and certain that someone is out to tarnish his good name, Kasliwal desperately seeks out Puri to locate the missing girl. This could prove to be Puri's most difficult case to date. With a population of over 1 billion and the only a first name of Mary to guide him, Puri turns to his trio of uniquely trained employees for assistance. Tubelight, Flush and Facecream, each with rather dubious backgrounds, lend their respective talents to the agency, ferreting out information and chasing down leads in the crowded streets of Delhi. Puri's mother is more than willing to lend a helping hand with the investigation, although her version of help differs quite drastically from Puri's. The novel takes a sinister turn when an attempt is made on Puri's life.  When evidence starts pointing towards Kasliwal as the most likely suspect, Puri must go to some rather extreme (and hilarious) lengths to prove his client's innocence.

Puri's pompous demeanor and shrewd investigative techniques bring to mind Agatha Christie's private detective Hercule Poiroit. Hall provides readers with several different mysteries to follow, all without bogging down the fast pace of the character driven storyline.  The eccentric cast of supporting characters and witty dialogue provide a fitting contrast to the slightly sobering depictions of Indian culture within the novel.

Can't wait for Puri's next adventure?  You are in luck as the series continues on with The Case of the Man Who Died Laughing and The Case of the Deadly Butter Chicken. Readers looking for other mystery series set in exotic locations should be sure to check out Alexander McCall Smith's Number 1 Detective series.   

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