Sunday, September 4, 2016

A Vacation Read


The Case of the Missing Servant by Tarquinn Hall


      I found this book in the library on a recent cruise and enjoyed it very much. Looking at the cover now, it seems very busy to me as if it is trying to incorporate every aspect of the book.   I don't recall any elephants though.

      But, aside from that small quibble (and I have read that traditionally published authors have little control over the covers chosen by the publisher) this was a delightful book.   It distracted me from both the cruise ship buffet and scenic delights of the Inside Passage to Alaska.     I love books that immerse the reader in the sights, sounds, smells, foibles and culture of another country.  The main character, detective Vish Puri, known as Chubby to his friends is delightfully described and developed as smart, quirky, vulnerable and clever.   The details of Indian society reflect the time the author spent in the country.   The book reminded me of the earlier books of the No. 1 Ladies Detective series by Alexander McCall-Smith, set in Botswana.

    The plot moves quickly, the violence is minimal.    The supporting characters, Chubby's undercover operates  with names like Tubelight and Facecream  as well as his mother and wife, add to the drama.   Yet the book at times is light, almost humorous even while not shying from depicting the poverty and misery that is the plight of this very stratified society.

     There were quite a few Indian words and phrases employed with fortunately a glossary in the back to refer to.  I suppose it would be handier to have a footnote on each page but many recur.   I think it added to the authenticity.  

      The corruption of everyday life including the police and judicial system was discouraging but Chubby seemed to know how to work his way around it.  He was firm about not working for peanuts (I think he referred to the Indian equivalent) but from his results, he was worth it.   

     I want to read more of this series and am enjoying the small frisson of excitement of looking forward to reading a book I know I will enjoy.

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