Whodunnit in India? Vish Puri has all the answers

2009-07-01 00:00

Book review: The Case of the Missing Servant

Tarquin Hall

Random House

THINK of your typical whodunnit story: a mysterious murder, a missing body, a detective and his “interesting” team of experts, a host of strange suspects and a cold, old town as the setting. Now turn all of this inside out and you get The Case of the Missing Servant.

This detective story is set in modern, bustling India. It is a light-hearted, humorous, page-turning story that will have you in stitches.

Vish Purin is a private investigator who deals with cases of a very extraordinary kind: he conducts research on prospective marriage partners to avoid patrons the hassle of having to marry a cheater or an unsavoury character. Together with his team, consisting of Tubelight, Flush, Facecream and Handbrake they follow the trail of the future groom or bride to see what darkness may exist in their lives so as to make them unsuitable marriage material. His life takes a more serious turn when a well-known, influential client is accused of murder and needs Purin’s help to prove his innocence.

Apart from the case, someone wants Purin dead. His mother, known as “Mummy”, rushes to the scene to protect her boy and this adds more humour to the story. Mummy is a stereotypical elderly Indian woman who decides to investigate for herself who her son’s prospective murderer is.

The story also offers a mild social commentary on current day India by highlighting the crime and corruption that exists there. There is also a portrayal of the growing disparity among the very poor and the very rich and the modern verses the traditional. It is easy to read and will have you reading until the end — where a twist awaits you.

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