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The Case of the Deadly Butter Chicken: Vish Puri, Most Private Investigator, Book 3 | [Tarquin Hall]

The Case of the Deadly Butter Chicken: Vish Puri, Most Private Investigator, Book 3

When the elderly father of a top Pakistani cricketer playing in the multi-million-dollar Indian Premier League dies during a post-match dinner, it’s not a simple case of Delhi Belly. His butter chicken has been poisoned. To solve the case, Puri must penetrate the region’s organized crime, following a trail that leads deep into Pakistan - the country in which many members of the P.I.’s family were massacred during the 1947 partition of India. The last piece of the puzzle, however, turns up closer to home when Puri learns of the one person who can identify the killer. Unfortunately it is the one woman in the world with whom he has sworn never to work: his Mummy-ji.
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Publisher's Summary

Dubbed “a wonderfully engaging P.I.” (The Times, London), Tarquin Hall’s irresistible protagonist Vish Puri has become an international favorite through a series that "splendidly evokes the color and bustle of Delhi and the tang of contemporary India" (The Seattle Times). Now the gormandizing, spectacularly mustachioed sleuth finds himself facing down his greatest fears in an explosive case involving the Indian and Pakistani mafias.

When the elderly father of a top Pakistani cricketer playing in the multi-million-dollar Indian Premier League dies during a post-match dinner, it’s not a simple case of Delhi Belly. His butter chicken has been poisoned. To solve the case, Puri must penetrate the region’s organized crime, following a trail that leads deep into Pakistan - the country in which many members of the P.I.’s family were massacred during the 1947 partition of India. The last piece of the puzzle, however, turns up closer to home when Puri learns of the one person who can identify the killer. Unfortunately it is the one woman in the world with whom he has sworn never to work: his Mummy-ji.

©2012 Sacred Cow Media, Ltd. (P)2012 AudioGO

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  •  
    Maine Colonial Maine, United States 07-23-12
    Maine Colonial Maine, United States 07-23-12 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Delightful Delhi detective (see recipe too)"

    This is the third Vish Puri detective story, but my first read in the series. I didn't feel disadvantaged by not having read the first two books. I felt immediately immersed in modern Delhi, where gleaming skyscrapers filled with call centers sit next to street markets, cricket matches are the subject of wild enthusiasm (especially with the new feature of blonde American cheerleaders in skimpy outfits), and the streets are jammed with hair-raising kamikaze drivers––and the occasional cow. In today's Delhi, the status of money is beginning to replace the caste system, but the old world remains in the multi-generational households, arranged marriages, and religious rituals.

    Vish Puri, affectionately called Chubby by his family, is the Boss of Most Private Detectives, assisted by a large group of operatives with colorful monikers like Tubelight, Facecream, Handbrake, Flush, and Chanel No.5. Even his beloved Mummy-Ji gets in on the sleuthing action on occasion––though against Puri's wishes.

    As the story begins, Puri has been put on a diet by his wife, Rumpi. He'll do anything to make her happy, but he finds food irresistible. The descriptions of his meals were so mouth-watering I finally had to resolve not to read the book unless I had already eaten.

    Puri has several cases on his plate (no pun intended): the murder (by poisoned Butter Chicken) of wealthy Pakistani Mr. Khan at a cricket federation dinner; allegations of cricket match fixing; and the "theft" of the long, luxuriant mustaches of two men.

    Puri's adventures are comic, but author Tarquin isn't just playing for laughs. He doesn't turn a blind eye to the corruption in Indian society or its inequities, like an elderly servant who is made to sleep on her master's kitchen floor. The police force is inept (and worse), and Puri is himself hampered by VIP suspects who refuse to cooperate with his investigation and threaten him for daring to approach them. One thread of the plot goes back to the horrific days of the partition of India and Pakistan in 1947, as Muslims fled north and Hindis and Sikhs south, with massacres of the refugees and abductions of women along the way.

    What a pleasure to read a mystery with such charming, lively characters, and to be both entertained and educated. I listened to the audiobook and found its reader, Sam Dastor, to be a delight. His neutral narration was in a clear, British accent, and his characters' Indian-accented dialog seemed dead on.

    RECIPE

    The best Butter Chicken I ever had was at Amber India in Palo Alto, CA. Here's the recipe from that restaurant published some years back in the San Francisco Chronicle:
    Ingredients:
     
    Main

    3 pounds chicken (2 half-breasts, 2 thighs, 2 legs), skinned
    Juice of 1 lemon
    1 tablespoon hot red pepper flakes
    2 teaspoons salt
    1 1/2 cups unflavored yogurt
    2 tablespoons heavy cream
    1 1/2 teaspoons garlic paste (see note)
    1 1/2 teaspoons ginger paste (see note)
    1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seed
    1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
    1/2 teaspoon garam masala
    1/2 teaspoon salt

    The Sauce

    1 teaspoon powdered ginger
    1/2 teaspoon ground red chile
    Pinch garam masala
    Pinch mace
    Pinch nutmeg
    1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
    2 teaspoons brown sugar
    1/4 cup butter
    2 cups canned tomatoes, chopped
    1 tablespoon tomato paste
    2 cups water, or more as needed
    2 tablespoons heavy cream
    2 teaspoons ground fenugreek
    Salt to taste 

    Instructions:
     
    1. Make 3 parallel cuts on top of each piece of chicken. Place the chicken in a resealable heavy-duty plastic bag.
    2. Combine the lemon juice, red pepper flakes and salt; pour over the chicken. Seal the bag and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
    3. Combine the yogurt and cream in a bowl; blend well.
    4. Mix together the garlic paste, ginger paste, coriander, cumin, garam masala and salt. Add to the yogurt mixture, blending thoroughly.
    5. When the chicken has marinated for 30 minutes, remove it from the refrigerator, open the bag and pour in the yogurt mixture. Reseal the bag and refrigerate overnight.
    6. To make the sauce: Combine the ginger, ground chile, garam masala, mace, nutmeg, white pepper and brown sugar in a small bowl.
    7. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, the spice/sugar blend and water. Simmer, stirring frequently, for 20 minutes.
    8. Add more water if the mixture gets too dry.
    9. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
    10. Remove the chicken from the marinade; discard the marinade.
    11. Arrange the chicken pieces in a baking pan large enough to hold them in a single layer. Bake for 30 minutes.
    12. Let the chicken cool until you can handle it, then remove the meat from the bones in bite-size pieces; discard bones.
    13. Add the chicken meat, the cream and fenugreek to the sauce. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent burning. Taste, and add salt if desired. 

    Nutrition Information:
     
    PER SERVING: 325 calories, 28 g protein, 8 g carbohydrate, 20 g fat (10 g saturated), 126 mg cholesterol, 380 mg sodium, 1 g fiber. 

    Yields: Serves 4. Note: Ginger paste and garlic paste are available in jars. Look for them in Asian markets, and supermarkets that have large ethnic-food sections

    14 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    connie Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada 07-14-12
    connie Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada 07-14-12 Member Since 2007

    trying to see the world with my ears

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    "good addition to global gumshoe listens"

    This is not as dark as Colin Cotterill's Dr Siri investigations, not as playful as Alexander McCall Smith, but still a humorous and cozily entertaining global gumshoe listen along those lines. You will learn something about modern India along the way; in fact, you could criticize the author for being too didactic and not as skilled (yet) as the earlier mentioned authors in weaving the learning into the tale.

    The author also has something else in common with McCall Smith and Cotterill: a non-native writing about a culture, albeit one he seems to know, respect, and understand well -- but as an outsider myself, I am not the best judge of the accuracy of the portrait or of Sam Dastor's narration -- both of which I enjoyed.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Moore Bay Area, CA USA 01-07-13
    Michael Moore Bay Area, CA USA 01-07-13 Member Since 2005

    mcubed33

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    "Far More than a Detective Story"

    Let me join other reviewers in singing the praises of the Vish Purry detective stories and the excellent narration by Sam Dostar. This is far more than a detective story, although the mystery plot is itself first class. The richness of this book lies in the colorful portraits of the people, neighborhoods, customs, characters, and mores of modern India. The writing—complemented by the superb and engaging Sam Dostar narration—lets you feel you are right in the neighborhoods described and in the presence of real people.

    All in all, both an entertaining and a highly enriching book. Kudos to Tarquin Hall, who I gather is actually a native Englishman who is married to an Indian woman and has lived a number of years in India.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Margaret Alameda, CA, United States 09-04-12
    Margaret Alameda, CA, United States 09-04-12 Member Since 2008
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    "Mummy G. and Chubby ride again."
    What did you love best about The Case of the Deadly Butter Chicken?

    Mummy G. is my favorite. She was right there helping Vish Puri, no matter how many times he tells her, "investigating is not for Mummies..."


    Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?

    Not really. I love the series for the reoccurring characters, not the cases.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    When Mummie reveals she knows why the murder was committed.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I got a little teary-eyed at the above scene. And I laughed at Chubby's attempts to follow a diet, with Rumpy after him.


    Any additional comments?

    I eagerly await Vish Puri, India's Most Confidential Private Investigator's next adventure. "Confidentiality is our watchword!"

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathy Davis, CA, United States 06-26-13
    Kathy Davis, CA, United States 06-26-13 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "India's Most Private Detective!"

    This was a really fun listen and I recommend it! The story was engaging and immersing with lots of humor but none of the silliness that sometimes plague the more light-hearted detective series. Vish Puri, India's most private detective, was portrayed as quite competent and I look forward to listening to his other adventures of crime solving in India. This book was a quick, fun, informative and easy listen.

    The narration was excellent and it was easy to distinguish between the numerous colorful characters.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ingrid SONOMA, CA, United States 06-11-13
    Ingrid SONOMA, CA, United States 06-11-13 Member Since 2012

    NorthBayGal

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "So nice to hear a good book :)"
    Any additional comments?

    I'm not done with this yet, but Mr. Hall has done it again and listening to Sam Dastor tell another tale of Chubby, Rumpey, Mummy Ji, and the rest of the well known cast is music to my ears. You don't have to start with the first book of the series to enjoy them, but I would recommend you do to get to know the characters.

    Chubby's on a diet, but we all know he's cheating. There are mustaches, cricket matches, old friends, old memories... Mummy Ji is going to get the answers before Chubby, I wonder if she will?

    In this book the characters are fleshing out even more. You know them by now, but their backstories are getting filled in, but not at the expense of the story. So far the two seem to go hand in hand and I am anxious to find out why and how and who, but not too anxious as there is no fourth book yet!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sarah Boston, MA, United States 07-19-12
    Sarah Boston, MA, United States 07-19-12 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Perfect summer listen"

    I really enjoyed the previous two instalments in this series and was eagerly awaiting the release of this one.

    Fortunately, I wasn't disappointed. A joy to listen to - filled with a wonderful sense of humour and original characters. I particularly loved the expansion on Puri's mother in this book as she out manoeuvres her lovably egotistic son. The same narrator as performed the first two books returns and yet again puts in a great performance; truly adding to your enjoyment and immersion into Tarquin Hall's India.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rosemary CHESAPEAKE, VA, United States 08-29-13
    Rosemary CHESAPEAKE, VA, United States 08-29-13 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "wonderful character development"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Third book in the Vish Puri series, this story further develops the characters and reveals the surprising and inspiring past of "Mummy G". The book combines humor, intrigue, and social commentary in a truly unique and entertaining style. The narration is expertly performed and artfully captures the personalities of each character.


    Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?

    Yes, having gotten to know the characters from the previous two novels, it was exciting to see how each person dealt with their situations.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    I particularly liked the scene where Puri predicted the palys in the cricket match.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The recollection of Mummy G attempting to rescue a poor girl from a life of slavery.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathleen Minneapolis, MN, USA 08-26-12
    Kathleen Minneapolis, MN, USA 08-26-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Wonderful series about India"

    This is the third in the wonderful Vish Turi series which continues to evoke the different flavors, (food and otherwise) of India. In this one, Vish’s nephew is part of India’s national cricket team and they are playing in a tournament against the Pakistani team. This is an intense game because India and Pakistan have been enemies since the partition into nations by the British in 1947. But Vish’s nephew and the top Pakistani player are good friends, and Vish finds he must try to withstand his prejudices in order to be courteous to the boy and his father. And then when the Pakistani older man is poisoned during the dinner through a dish of butter chicken which the whole table shared, he must find out how it occurred. This book, a little more serious than the first two, involves tangling with the Pakistan mafia, dealing with illegal betting on cricket games, dealing in blood diamonds, and, most bizarre, a man whose full mustache was stolen. He learns more about his own family’s history in 1947 and 1948 when they were forced to move from the area they lived in which became Pakistan, and, despite his best efforts, his Mummy-Gi is essential in solving the poisoning case. A very good book with information included about the India Pakistan issues.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sarah Dumoulin Kinburn, Ontario Canada 07-19-12
    Sarah Dumoulin Kinburn, Ontario Canada 07-19-12 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    96
    ratings
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    28
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    8
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    "Perfect summer listen"

    I really enjoyed the previous two instalments in this series and was eagerly awaiting the release of this one.

    Fortunately, I wasn't disappointed. A joy to listen to - filled with a wonderful sense of humour and original characters. I particularly loved the expansion on Puri's mother in this book as she out manoeuvres her lovably egotistic son. The same narrator as performed the first two books returns and yet again puts in a great performance; truly adding to your enjoyment and immersion into Tarquin Hall's India.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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