The Case of the Missing Servant by Tarquin Hall

This is the first in a series starring Vish Puri, India’s Most Private Investigator. The word “starring” fits this investigator who has a charismatic, over-the-top personality. A former military investigator who was asked to resign, Vish now directs a skilled staff in his detective bureau. Pride of place on his office wall belongs to a Super Sleuth plaque presented to him for solving the Case of the Missing Polo Elephant. Vish nicknamed his staff: a beautiful undercover agent is Facecream, others are Tubelight and Flush, while the secretary who keeps the chaos to a minimum is the respectable Mrs. Rani.
There’s an abundance of irony and humor mixed in with the real cases, which do hold interest: in this novel an old friend asks for help when a female servant goes missing and it appears the friend may have killed her or is being framed Relish the hot, colorful life of Delhi, India and Vish’s family: Mummy-ji (his senior and very active mother), Rumpi (wife) and many others. Vish’s nickname is Chubby and Rumpi is continually after him to lose weight, which never happens because Vish loves and lives to eat and there are plenty of mouth-watering descriptions of his sneakily consumed “extras.”
The sense of place and light hand are reminiscent of Alexander McCall Smith’s Precious Ramotswe series in Botswana. The descriptions of the city, family relationships and food make one think of the cozier parts of Donna Leon’s serious series about Commissario Guido Brunetti. Hall’s use of Indian English vernacular and Hindi words necessitate consulting the glossaries in each book on a regular basis, but that enriches the story and gives ideas for ordering in Indian restaurants. Crowded, noisy street scenes reminiscent of  the movies The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and Monsoon Wedding are skillfully replicated here in words, so don’t let the simple titles and gaudy covers keep you from getting away to Delhi for a few amusing hours with Vish Puri and company.

Other titles in this series include The Case of the Man Who Died Laughing (2010), and The Case of the Deadly Butter Chicken (2012).

Find and request this book in our catalog.


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