Vish Puri has entangled himself in a case of a missing young dalit boy who has made the fatal mistake of falling in love with daughter of Vishnu Mishra, a powerful goon from a higher caste. Add to this the shameless politics for votes constantly being played in Uttar Pradesh, India’s largest state that is notorious for its lawlessness. The complicated social strata of castes and sub-castes and their inter rivalries make Game of Thrones look like a child’s play.
I am a die-hard fan of Vish Puri, a portly, middle-aged Punjabi from Delhi who is self proclaimed India’s most private investigator, with a penchant for spicy food and writing letters to the editor of The Times of India asserting his views on dwindling public moral and social values. Puri can be an irritant, but mind you, he has a heart of gold, is really a good detective and truly cares for justice. Puri is not afraid to take on the high and mighty to save a poor innocent wrongly accused of a misdeed.
The Case of The Deadly Butter Chicken was a bit rushed and low on intensity but Tarquin Hall is firmly back in saddle with The Case of The Love Commandos. He has taken a difficult subject (caste politics and its damaging effects on the society), laced it with right quantities of mystery, humour, social commentary and interesting (to some extent caricature) characters and served us an engaging tale. Hall succinctly captures the sorry state of today’s Indian politics when he remarks –
“The ramifications of colonialism always proved disastrous. Indeed, Uttar Pradesh, one of India’s most lawless states, was yet to recover from the legacy of the Britishers in the detective’s opinion. The British Empire had destroyed the fabric of the indigenous economy as well as the old nawab culture, which, for all it’s faults, had produced an educated intelligentsia. Since independence, the vacuum had been filled by something far less sophisticated. Uttar Pradesh’s modern rulers possessed none of the intellectual acumen of the likes of Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, or Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, the Dalit leader responsible for writing the Indian constitution. Today’s politicians were crude men and women guilty of everything from smuggling to rape and murder. Their route to power was not competence or judiciousness, but exploiting caste vote banks.”
Mummy-Ji is also doing her own hunting in a parallel case. Supposedly, on a pilgrim with a plethora of family members, she is trying to solve a difficult robbery case and by Jove, she is sure to catch her man red handed. Mummy-Ji is alert, tenacious, even cheeky; impervious to Vish Puri’s continuous howling that Mummies are not supposed to be detectives and by far the most interesting character.
We also get to know more about Puri’s secret operative Facecream and the organisation she helps – Love Commandos. As always, the book is fast, there is too much happening – murder, heist, politics, a foreign organisation making ill gains from dubiously acquired DNAs and an ensemble of characters that go with it. Tarquin Hall captures India perfectly including Indian English. We Indians never realise the peculiar and funny manner in which we speak our day-to-day English but reading it here is a real revelation. Going by the reviews on Goodreads, non-Indians are equally fascinated by Hall’s rendition of today’s India.
Thank you for reading. I appreciate your time.
My other reviews of Vish Puri Series –
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