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Editorial Reviews

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

Publisher's Summary

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.

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  • Overall
  • Carolyn
  • Memphis, TN, United States
  • 12-13-10

Fun and entertaining

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.

14 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Loved it!

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.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Dr.
  • Lake Oswego, OR, United States
  • 10-01-10

Fun and entertaining - nothing too serious

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.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Excellent example of genre

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.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Margaret
  • San Francisco, CA USA
  • 09-06-10

All Aboard!

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!

17 of 19 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • cristina
  • Somerville, MA, United States
  • 12-16-10


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.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Traci
  • Wilton, CT, United States
  • 06-25-11

light and different

I enjoyed this book. It's very short and very light. I learned a lot about Indian culture.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Great Fun!

This book was a modern Sherlock Holmes with a bit more fun. An easy read/listen. Only one thing, not really a complaint, but I am familiar with indian cluture, but the author used quite a few words in Indian. Most the author uses the english word, or a discription of the item right after, but a few he does not. (mainly food items) It would have helped me envison the scene better if I knew what it looked like. Otherwise I really enjoyed it. The narrarator is Fantastic!! Even though he does the voices for a few women, they sound just like I would expect them to sound.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Karen
  • eugene, OR, United States
  • 06-26-10

fun ;and well done

enjoyable mystery, very nice narration.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story
  • V123
  • Washington, DC, USA
  • 02-16-13

Great way to learn about life in modern India

Any additional comments?

I thoroughly enjoyed entering this world and living amongst the characters many and varied in an unfamiliar place. Highly recommend.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful