Tarquin Hall has evidently taken the criticism of his fun but simplistic first detective novel to heart; this second installment in the Vish Puri series is a head and shoulders above The Case of the Missing Servant, which was not too shabby in the first place. Where the first book was a fairly straightforward case, this one has at least a half dozen spectacular false endings that will keep you guessing until the very last minute.
Luckily, what hasn't changed at all is Hall's wonderful sense of authenticity in the dialogue. His ability to capture the flavor of New Delhi is impeccable, but a bigger treat is the return of narrator Sam Dastor, whose delivery of the rich dialogue is utterly unimpeachable. From English to Hindustani to Gujarati to Punjabi to even a little bit of ancient Urdu, Dastor does not miss a single beat while following the trail of Vish Puri, india's Most Private investigator, and it is his voice work that truly highlights what a good job Hall has done of showcasing all the comic wonder that northern india has to offer.
The case this time is much more complicated than just a missing servant. When "guru buster" Dr. Jha dies laughing in the face of an apparition of Kali, who slays him with a giant sword in a public park in the middle of the afternoon in front of dozens of witnesses, the alleged miracle appearance by the goddess touches off a whirlwind of speculation and debate between the rationalists and the godmen. it is too easy to accuse Maharaj Swami, the cult religious figure of the moment, who had long promised Jha he would get the "miracle" that was coming to him.
To assist him in solving this supernatural murder mystery, Puri enlists his team of various amusing undercover agents to infiltrate the confidences of his suspects and root out the evidence of the case. Thrown in for good measure is a minor secondary mystery involving the robbery of a ladies' gambling circle, presided over by Puri's own fairly witty wife and his overwhelmingly clever mother. Filled with criminal magicians, shady preachers, snooty academics, slimy bureaucrats, and a generous helping of police who are slow on the uptake, Hall's solid, classic characters are given fresh, spicy life thanks to such a charming narration. To read the book in print is to miss all the fun, as there is no better guide to Vish Puri's world than the flawless interpreter of Sam Dastor. Megan Volpert
Dr. Suresh Jha, best known for unmasking fraudulent swamis and godmen, dies in a fit of giggles at his morning yoga class when goddess Kali appears from the mist and plunges a sword into his chest. The only one laughing now is the main suspect, a powerful guru named Maharaj Swami, who seems to have done away with his most vocal critic.
Vish Puri, India’s Most Private Investigator, master of disguise and lover of all things fried and spicy, doesn’t believe the murder is a supernatural occurrence. How did the murder weapon miraculously crumble into ash? To get at the truth, Puri and his team of undercover operatives—Facecream, Tubelight, and Flush—must travel from the slum to the holy city of Haridwar on the Ganges.
©2010 BBC Audio (P)2010 Sacred Cow Media, Ltd.
This is a wonderful froth of a story with excellent narration that brings the story to life. There are no downsides. It is beautifully told with lots of detail, including lots of references to delicious food, which is always a plus for me. The sub-plot with the detective's mother was also a joy. The book combines the intellect and detection skills of Sherlock Holmes and the humor of Stephanie Plum (if she were a chubby Indian detective). I'm hungry for more from Tarquin Hall.
I'm on board for this series. The second installment is even better than the first, reversing a trend I've seen in too many series lately. Bravo!
My title says it all. I enjoyed this story and it held my interest. It helps if you enjoy an India-oriented story that is mindful of and plays with the differences between Indian and American culture.
The plot (very light) seems secondary to the characters, who are amusing and entertaining. The reader is great. I loved his voice and am not sure I would have liked the book as much if it had been performed by a lesser actor. Definitely not "literature." More like an afternoon movie on TV.
This was a lovely romp. At times it was laugh out loud funny but still kept you guessing till the end. If you are looking for fast action and edge of the seat suspense, this is not the book for you but if you want a gentle, comfortable mystery to while away your leisure hours, you can't go wrong with this title. I lived in India for several years and feel that Sam Dastor did an amazing job of narration. Tarquin Hall does a great job with character development and obviously understands the human condition that transcends cultural boundaries. I loved this book and hated to have it end.
A sort of "locked room" mystery interlaced with two or three subplots. Narrator Sam Dastor does a spectacular job of juggling UK, Indian, and American accents. A brief, painless glimpse into contemporary India.
This seemed like a good choice because I am headed off to India for two weeks and I wanted to soak up some atmosphere in advance. The laughing detective was the perfect solution, both murder mystery and social commentary. Vish Puri, his family, and his odd cast of business associates deliver a fast paced tale with non stop twists and turns. The narrator brought the characters alive. I don't want to need Vish Puri while I am in Delhi but it certainly would be fun to meet him.
I confess. I listened to this book in a day and then I started over, listened again and then I bought the other one in the series and I listened to it. This book is like a visit to India. In addition to being funny with an engaging plot, Tarquin Hall does an amazing job of creating atmosphere. His lively descriptions of the sights and sounds and tastes and daily life in India bring the book to life. The narrator also gets five stars with his warm voice and beautiful accent. My next challenge will be to find an Indian restaurant in Boise Idaho! If I had a complaint, other than that I don't have the funds to hop on a plane to India, it would be that there are only two books in this series. However the next is due out July 1!
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