Saturday, July 3, 2010

Review: The Case of the Man who Died Laughing

Author: Taquin Hall
Format: both audio 8 hrs, 27 min; and reading 309 pages-hardback
Audio narrator: Sam Dastor
Characters: Vish Puri, Tubelight, FaceCream, Handbrake, Mommie-ji, Rumpi, Flush, Doorstop
Subject: Solving crime -private detective agency
Setting: Modern India
Series: "From the Files of Vish Puri, Most Private Investigator"
Genre: detective fiction
Source: Advance copy from author and audio download from public library
Challenge: ARC completed

How can you not love a story about a fat guy, who eats fiery hot food, who has a driver named Handbrake, a crew of undercover operatives named Tubelight, DoorStop, Flush, and FaceCream, and whose wife Rumpi, and mother (Mummi-ji) call him "Chubby?" Meet Vish Puri, Most Private Investigator who continues in this 2nd of the series to delight us with his Sherlockian method of solving crimes. In this one, a well regarded scientist is killed by a floating vision of the goddess Kali - many eyewitnesses agree. Vish Puri, working quietly behind the scenes with the approval of his friend police Inspector Jagat Singh, sets out to unravel the mystery of the appearance and disappearance of the goddess and the murder weapon. On the way, he must deal with magicians, frauds, and the Indian equivalent of modern tel-evangelists.

In the meantime, Rumpi and Mummy-ji are doing some investigating of their own. During a ladies 'kitty party' where a group of women friends gathered periodically to conduct a raffle of sorts, robbers appear and relieve the ladies of their kitty money. Not wanting their husbands to know what they had been up to, they refused to call the police. Mummy is determined to find the culprits and recover the money. Her antics are worth the price of the book even without Vish's detecting.

These are well constructed mysteries, with good police procedures, excellent studies and explanations of the social, economic, and historical mores of the area. In this one, we are even given some insight into the competing views of the various great religious groups in India today. They are simply delightful, and I look forward to more.

Some have compared them to Alexander McCall Smith's "1st Ladies Detective Agency Series". In that they give us a picture of a foreign way of life, and give us protagonists of great humanity, they are alike. I do think however, that Puri is much more like Sherlock in how he goes about solving his mysteries. In fact, in the end, there is a great scene where he explains to his secretary Elizabeth Rani how he solved this mystery. It could have just as easily been Holmes and Watson.

And finally, I really appreciate the author's including a glossary. Having definitions of colloquial terms really adds to the experience. Many thanks also to the author's publicist Lucinda Blumenfeld of Fletcher and Company for providing this copy and extras for a giveaway running now.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, this series sounds like a lot of fun! I'm going to have to check it out for myself! Thanks for the great review.



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