4 Stars - Strongly Recommended
It's funny how things find a strange way of lining themselves up. A few months ago, I came across an ARC copy of this novel at a local library sale. I flipped through it, read the back cover, and thought it sounded interesting. Once I got home, I stacked it up on my bookshelf with the other books I purchased that day, and there it sat... Until I met Lucinda, who works with the authors literary agent, in NYC during the BEA.
She offered to have me host the author, Tarquin Hall, on TNBBC to discuss the novel (which is taking place all this week) and offered up 5 copies of the novel to get the discussion going!
So, of course, in order to participate in the Author Q&A, and drive some discussion, I pulled the book off of the bookshelf and began to read it.
The Case of the Missing Servant is - at it's heart - a true murder mystery. Taking place in Dehli, we met Vish Puri: India's Most Private Investigator. A portly, proud, and persistent undercover detective who will stop at nothing to uncover the truth of the disappearance of Mary, a maid servant who seemingly vanished in the middle of the night.
Using ancient espionage methods, Vish Puri enlists the help of spies like FaceCream, Tubelight, and Handbrake to investigate the situation. Little by little, the pieces of the puzzle begin to fit together for our hero - leading the reader on what first appears to be a twisting, turning, seemingly endless wild goose chase.
Tarquin Hall has created a wonderfully humorous, light-hearted tale starring a very charismatic, if not slightly full of himself, lead character who certainly has earned the recognition and prestige that is showered upon him. Boasting about his numerous awards, his photo appearing on the cover of a popular magazine, and the many cases he has already solved, Vish Puri is quick to refuse help from his Mummy - who manages to perform some of her own undercover investigations throughout the novel as well.
Hall also does a fantastic job of pulling the reader into the storyline, of allowing us to get lost in the plot, and giving us just enough information to keep us guessing the whole way through.
What really made the book for me, in the end, was the authentic way in which Tarquin's characters spoke English. In conversation, it is quite common to hear the characters saying "The driver was doing reckless driving..." or "Don't do the sleeping." or "You want I should send someone with you?"
A real gem of a novel, a true taste of India, and a dynamic cast of characters.
This book is worth the read, and I hope if you enjoyed it, that you will check out the second novel of the series, which just released this past week, "The Case of the Man Who Died Laughing".