Vaseem Khan

Midnight at Malabar House

""...a gripping tale... " "


It is 1949, two years after the Sub-continent of India has been divided into Pakistan and India, and the eve of the election which will make India the largest republic in the world. Excitement and emotions are running high. It is at this moment that Inspector Persis Wadia, first female police detective, is in charge at Malabar House, home to those members of the Bombay police force who have blotted their copybook with the powers that be. As a woman. Persis faces opposition that ranges from disbelief that a woman could do the job, to obstruction as she tries to carry out her work, and ultimately to attempted sabotage of her career.

She is called to investigate a steaming hot potato - the murder of a prominent UK diplomat Sir James Herriot at a time when anti British feelings abound. The British connection means that she has to work with Scotland yard criminalist, Archie Finch. They have a rocky relationship but ultimately a positive one. Many secrets are at the heart of this murder and Persis is very persistent indeed in winkling out the truth.

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I loved all Vaseem's previous books featuring Baby Ganesh. They were highly amusing as well as sources of surprising facts about present day India. This however, seems a more grown up offering. The impact of British imperialism, good and bad, is explored, and very relevant it is today in the current climate. The horrendous consequences of the partition in the Punjab is brought clearly to light and I found the evidence of the atrocities carried out by the different factions of the old India as well as the mistakes of the Raj all the more compelling because of the access the author has to those who were there. The courage of his heroine and her sheer cussedness also rang a very modern bell. Many women in less violent situations today will recognise the attitudes. All in all a gripping tale if not so laugh out loud funny as the author's previous offerings

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