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Publisher's Summary

Bombay, New Year's Eve, 1949

As India celebrates the arrival of a momentous new decade, Inspector Persis Wadia stands vigil in the basement of Malabar House, home to the city's most unwanted unit of police officers. Six months after joining the force she remains India's first female police detective, mistrusted, sidelined and now consigned to the midnight shift.

And so, when the phone rings to report the murder of prominent English diplomat Sir James Herriot, the country's most sensational case falls into her lap.

As 1950 dawns and India prepares to become the world's largest republic, Persis, accompanied by Scotland Yard criminalist Archie Blackfinch, finds herself investigating a case that is becoming more political by the second. Navigating a country and society in turmoil, Persis, smart, stubborn and untested in the crucible of male hostility that surrounds her, must find a way to solve the murder - whatever the cost.

©2020 Vaseem Khan Limited (P)2020 Hodder & Stoughton Limited

What listeners say about Midnight at Malabar House

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Feminist Fiction from a Male Author

I’ve read and enjoyed Vaseem Kahn’s previous novels. This newest story about a female in the Indian Police Force seemed forced. It was difficult to follow the historical background which I usually enjoy learning more about from this author. There were too many characters with only a small storyline. I just didn’t connect with Mr. Kahn’s feminine protagonist. I finished the story but was grateful when it was over.

7 people found this helpful

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An unpleasant proselytizing heroine

This is definitely a belt and suspenders type of writer. From the very beginning we learn not just about a burgled safe but it’s color, location, the weight of the picture disguising it and the fact it has two identical keys.
The lead character is the 1st policewoman in India and takes multiple opportunities to dwell on the exploitation of India by the English. Once I could have seen but the fourth and fifth time through were a slog.
It felt more of a youthful angst novel than a mystery. I’m sad because I thought the idea was excellent.

5 people found this helpful

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I love colonial India tales and mysteries but …

While the plot line was well planned, the story was just too long ( and over explained) to keep my interest. If this had been a book, I would have jumped to the end half way thru. My strongest criticism, thou, is for the central character. She is just too strident and one dimensional to be believed; she could do with some needle humor or even just a pinch more tenderness.
I think this author is still trying to find his footing. He went from the silliness of the cozy mysteries involving a baby elephant sidekick (how many plots twists can you use with this constraint) to an overly involved book with too many subplots and cardboard characters without the enjoyment of all those lovely little everyday life vignettes I so enjoyed in his elephant series.

3 people found this helpful

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Very solid and informative

Aside from quite solid plot with a good number of red herrings and a cute romantic line, it gives insides in Indian life in mid-20 century.

2 people found this helpful

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A time capsule if there was one

Very well written, can't wait for the next in the series. Love all the characters and how they were developed. Very striking about the Indian past, very well researched. The performance was also well on point.

2 people found this helpful

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Mixed feelings here

I liked the setting, which did evoke memories of my visits to Bombay. The secondary characters were well done - especially Archie! The mystery angle plotting also worked well; the author does have a popular series under his belt for experience.

So, what's the issue? I wasn't all that fond of Persis herself. To me, her handling of sexism, and imperialism, came off as downright rude. However, I did like the ending of the story, which opens up the possibility that she mellows a bit.

Audio narration was okay, but not the greatest fit. The reader sounded clearly British (to me), rather than South Asian. If she reads more of the series, it's not a deal-breaker; if they want to try a different person, I'm up for that as well.

1 person found this helpful

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Dragged

Sorry, I just couldn't stay with it. It was a short story that Sent in too long.

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An excellent start to a new series

I absolutely love the Baby Ganesh series and when I finished it I immediately went to this new one. I would say it's an excellent start for a series, though I do feel like the ending was a bit out of left field, hinted at but it could have been more firmly interwoven into the story I think throughout. I really like the characters though and the historical context. Also of course as a woman I appreciate the main character and her being the first female police inspector in India and what that would mean.

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  • VK
  • 02-06-21

A great Historical Mystery

Persis Wadia is the first female detective in post partition India. Not only does she have to prove her worth but she has a murder to solve
This book not only takes you into India of the 1950 but immerses you in the life and struggles of the people in this turbulent part of Indian history.

The plot to this book is woven into history beautifully and certainly keeps you guessing. It flows so easily that it was hard to put down. The clever plot came together at the end in the most satisfying way

Persis is a great character and on this case she is working with Archie Blacksmith a forensic expert from Scotland Yard. They are a most endearing match and I hope that we will see them again in the future.

The narrator definitely needs a mention as she was brilliant.
I feel I have been entertained by a good murder mystery while being educated in the history of India.
I would definitely recommend this book.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Highland Hedgewitch
  • 09-10-20

An Agatha Christie Style Ride

What a joy of a book. The story kept me guessing with plenty of twists and turns to keep up with. The struggles of India, of the poor, of women, were quite something, i had no idea. So as well as entertaining it was an education too.
The story was read to perfection, and i shall miss the characters like parting with old friends.

3 people found this helpful

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  • anne
  • 09-02-20

Another delightful thriller

Vaseem Khan writes the most entertaining thrillers and mystery novels. This one I consider one of his best. Alongside an intriguing story with India’s first woman detective as the main character, we are given some enlightening history of a dreadful time in India’s history.... partition. Although the subject and references are appalling, this is not a depressing book. On the contrary it highlights the resilience of the Indian character and has a gentle, old fashioned, “Agatha Christie” type of denouement which will knock your socks off!

2 people found this helpful

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  • Carol
  • 03-06-21

An interesting and entertaining murder mystery

This is my first listen to this author and found it fascinating, entertaining and informative. I am not sure I like Persus but I think she will grow on me in future tales. She has the unenviable position as the only female detective in India only a few years into Indian independence so her prickliness is probably understandable. I look forward to more on this indomitable female and also learning more on the development of the amazing continent of India.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Elaine
  • 10-21-20

Engaging mystery, Persis is a joy !

I loved this tale. Persis is a character whom I look forward to meeting again hopefully. The plot is detailed and thorough and setting took me to her world. I thought the narrator was excellent...with one minor grumble. I found the Scottish accent on one of the characters a bit difficult to hear.. maybe because I am Scottish!!! Loved this audio book.

1 person found this helpful

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  • mahabibi
  • 07-01-21

Good ☝

Great to have an Indian female roll which guts. Narration great, story great. Cheers again Audible.

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  • Bookaholic
  • 06-17-21

Not up to Agatha Christie in any way!

Disjointed and pedestrian. Marred by political and racial bias, stereotypical characters . I persevered in the hope that it would improve but sadly, it didn’t.

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  • Dee
  • 05-22-21

Excellent!

Another fantastic detective novel by this author. Well read, exciting n altogether most enjoyable! Enjoy!

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  • G. Barber
  • 03-24-21

An engaging story

Much enjoyed this story and well narrated. Will look for more by Vaseem Khan.

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  • The Curator
  • 12-15-20

An interesting addition to the detective roster

Very enjoyable main character. An independent woman breaking boundaries but also not superwoman. She gets things wrong, she’s let down by colleagues and the ‘system’ but still looks to do right. I’m looking forward to more in the series.