A priceless manuscript. A missing scholar. A trail of riddles.
Persis must solve the riddle to find the killer – or die trying . . .
For over a century, one of the world’s great treasures, a six-hundred-year-old copy of Dante’s The Divine Comedy, has been safely housed at Bombay’s Asiatic Society. But when it vanishes, together with the man charged with its care, British scholar and war hero, John Healy, the case lands on the desk of Persis Wadis, India’s first female police detective.
Uncovering a series of complex riddles written in verse, Persis – together with English forensic scientist Archie Blackfinch – is soon on the trail. But then they discover the first body. As the death toll mounts it becomes evident that someone else is also pursuing this priceless artifact and will stop at nothing to possess it . . .
Harking back to an era of darkness, this second thriller in the Malabar House series pits Persis, once again, against her peers, a changing India, and an evil of limitless intent.
I received a copy of this book from Hodder & Stoughton via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
The second book in the Malabar House series has vivid historical detail, vibrant characters, and a tantalising mystery to solve. Set in 1950s Bombay, the legacy of WW2, British rule and the cultural and religious divisions make this a fascinating read.
Persis Wadis is the first female inspector of police. She achieved national infamy from her position and previous case. A believably complex woman driven by her need to succeed in the face of family doubts, institutional misogyny and self-doubt, she analytically approaches her cases but often puts herself in dangerous situations.
The story has an engaging balance of investigation and personal exploration of the detective’s life. Her father’s bookshop is a special place for Persis, and many clues to her cases are discovered within the pages of the books.
A multi-layered mystery with shadowy characters, political intrigue and echoes of WW2 illuminates India’s role in WW2 as another source of tension between India and its colonial past. Intricate cyphers and puzzles are woven into the plot for the investigation team and reader to solve. An engaging mix of action, cerebral detective skills and introspection make this a page-turner.
Hints of romance, friendship and family drama make this an authentic and entertaining historical crime mystery with characters and historical details that resonate.