The Case of the Deadly Butter Chicken – Tarquin Hall

My Rating – 4/5

Summary –

Vish Puri is back. And with a bang! India’s most private investigator is on the most treacherous case of his life – tracking murder of father of a Pakistani cricketer that will take him across the border in the enemy land and bring him face to face with the world of betting that thrives on the dirty nexus of politicians, underworld and a few greedy sportsmen.

Review –

If you have read first two Vish Puri mysteries then you will definitely want to read this one. I like Vish Puri novels not for the mystery (though it is good) but for Hall’s skill of capturing flavour of India. Hall manages to capture India as it is today – growing, changing yet clinging to its past; good as well as bad, a country once dubbed as ‘functioning anarchy’ where everything is changing and yet nothing really changes much. And of course Indian English in its superlative form. You may find it irritating sometimes, but trust me, this is exactly how Hinglish (Hindi+English) is spoken by many in India.

Vish Puri is among the guests in a hotel where father of Pakistani fast bowler Kamran Khan is murdered by poisoning his butter chicken. Vish is employed to track the murderer by people who think the murder was related to betting and want to free the game of cricket of this menace. With his ensemble sidekicks – Flush, Facecream and Tubelight, Vish embarks on the mission of tracing the trail of how betting is operated. His quest brings him face to face with the high and mighty guests, one of whom is the murderer.

As always Mummy Ji is also conducting her own clandestine investigation. But this time it is Mummy Ji who really understands the nature of crime and possesses a vital piece of information linked to the painful memories of partition and her own role after it.

This book has everything in it…. May be a tad too much. There is murder, cricket, illegal betting, politics, hawala racket, blood diamonds and a link to horrible past of India’s partition. Then there is another mystery involving stolen moustaches and I wondered for a long time to find a connection. Unlike his previous books that were focussed on exposing a particular type of hypocrisy (caste system and idol worshipping), this books makes liberal use of recent events in India. There are characters that you can  recognise from real life. So if you are aware of current events in India and particularly the game of cricket, then you will have a sense of Déjà vu. But if you are not, actually better. I think you will enjoy the book much more that way.

The book also opens the old wounds of partition. It is 65 years since that dreadful August. Hall has maintained a restrained tone while describing it but it still rekindled the bloody memories even for someone like me from a much later generation. I am sure you will want to do some cross reading about India after you have read this book.

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your time.

The book is available cheapest in India at –

1. Homeshop 18 2. Landmark 3. Indiaplaza 4. ebay

My other reviews of Vish Puri Series –

1. The Case of the Missing Servant 2. The Case of the Man Who Died Laughing 3. The Case of The Love Commandos

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