Book Review – A Murder on Malabar Hill

It is no secret that I love reading murder mysteries and that Dame Agatha Christie is my favorite author in the genre. Last week, as I was picking up a book of Sophie Hannah in the Agatha Christie series, my librarian recommended to me this book – A Murder on Malabar Hill. The synopsis of the book was quite intriguing and I didn’t hesitate to borrow the book.

Book cover of a Murder on Malabar Hill

Book cover of a Murder on Malabar Hill

Written by Sujata Massey, an Indo-German, A Murder on Malabar Hill rolls in Mumbai in 1921 pre-Independent India. Parveen Mistry, a young and intelligent Zoroastrian, joins her father’s prestigious law firm to become one of India’s first female lawyers.

In her very first case, she is appointed to execute the will of Omar Farid, a wealthy mill owner who dies intestate leaving behind three widows and four kids. He also appoints a guardian/caretaker for his estate, mill and family. Parveen’s suspicions are aroused by the anomaly in the will and she is suspicious of the guardian of duping the unworldly wise widows who live in a strict seclusion, never leaving the women’s quarters or speaking to men, until she finds him murdered in his own house.

Who killed him? One of the widows of Omar Farid, one of the servants or someone from the outside? Parveen makes it her business to find out in order to protect the family of Omar Farid.

I like this book on various levels.

Firstly, I fell in love with the protagonist. Parveen Mistry is a feisty young woman who though is bound by the strict rules of society in early 20th century doesn’t give it up easily without a fight. As per the author, Parveen’s character was inspired by India’s earliest women lawyers, Cornelia Sorabji of Poona, the first woman to read law at Oxford and the first woman to sit the British law exam and to be admitted to the Bombay Bar.

Parveen has a disturbing past, but she rises above it, owns up her mistakes and moves on. Also, the author has dealt with the subject of Parveen’s tumultuous past with great sensitivity and respect.

I didn’t know about Purdanashins, the females of the Muslim community who choose to stay in seclusion all their life in zenanas (female rooms) and not to interact with men, except their husbands and sons. The book throws light on them and gives a good insight into their family structure and mental make-up of such women. The book talks not only about the women in seclusion in the Muslim community, but also some of the sordid practices of orthodox Parsi families.

Sujata Massey paints a nostalgic picture of Mumbai of a 100 years ago. The pretty sprawling Anglo-Indian bungalows on Malabar Hill, the Queen’s Necklace, Zaveri Bazaar, Dadar Parsi Colony and the jewel of Colaba – The Taj Mahal Palace. The tongas and man-pulled rickshaws, the stevedores at the Ballard Pier and Irani bakeries like Yazdani serving melt-in-your-mouth Irani confectionery all add to the old-world charm of this majestic city. Mumbai would not have been Mumbai without the generous contribution of the Zoroastrian community, and this book gives a just ode to them.

There are a few nail-biting moments in the book, however, for a murder mystery, I would have expected some more. The mystery was not mysterious enough and even I could see through the killer (I have never been able to crack the murderer in Agatha Christie’s books). So, yes, that was a bit disappointing there, however, the motive for murder was intelligent enough.

The book is more than just a murder mystery, but an introduction to the social life of elite Mumbai in the early 1900s and the stand of women in the society. The book is well researched and the characters are complex and believable.

If you are looking for a finely detailed and tightly woven crime novel like Agatha Christie’s, then you might be disappointed in this book, but if you are looking for an engaging and cozy read with one of its aspects being a murder mystery, you will definitely like this book.

I definitely would want to read all future offerings of Parveen Mistry Investigates.

I am taking part in the Write Tribe Reading Challenge and I have opted to read 24 books this year (though I am hoping to read more). There are 24 prompts given, and this book adheres to three of them:

2. A book written by a Female author

16. A book on crime-solving

23. A book you bought just because of its cover/a book with a beautiful cover

Advertisements
Posted in Book Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

#TellTaleThursday – The Wrath of Gods

Today’s prompt is this powerful image –

Image : Unsplash.com

His eyes opened to the majestic blue sky. A clear sky would be delightful to many, but not to him. It meant his woes would not come to an end today.

Shaking his melancholy aside, he got up from the charpoy and went to the nearby jungle to complete his morning ablutions. If it didn’t rain by the end of this week, he would have nothing to give back to his creditors who hounded him mercilessly.

He went to the hut. His wife, who all of 25-years but looked like 50 with years of poverty and hard work, looked at him with hope. He shook his head. His two kids were still sleeping, their faces gaunt and their skin thin due to hunger.

She handed him some food. He had neither gone to the market, nor had given her money to buy food. He knew what she had served her. Any rodent or tabby she could get her hands on in the field became their meals these days.

Before going to sleep that night, he put his hands together. Calloused hands with dirt beneath the fingers joined together in a prayer. He prayed to the Rain God to send some over to his field. And slept.

In the night, he woke up to unusual sounds. What was it? He felt hot, burning hot. Within seconds he was up. A fierce inhuman cry came out of his mouth as he ran towards his field. Or what was left of it.

The Gods don’t answer all prayers.

Note:

We are taking a break from #TellTaleThursday in the month of July. See you in August with a renewed vigor. 

We request you to kindly share our links in your posts. <#TellTalethursday with @anshu and @priya so that others can reach us.

Till then, write bold write unique. 

Posted in #TellTaleThursday | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

#TellTaleThursday – Innocent Wish

Prompt – You make a wish at midnight and it comes true..

Innocent Wish

Jenny came home from school. She threw her bag on the floor, flung her shoes in the air and sat on the kitchen stool with a surly face.

Her mother asked, “What’s wrong Jenny? Why are you sulking?”

“All my friends got new gifts for Christmas, except me,” she complained. “Sonia got a new pair of rollerblades, Ron got a football, Amy got a cool pair of gloves and Tina got a new prosthetic leg.”

“But you did get a Christmas gift, remember?”

“A black cardigan from the Salvation Army does not count as a gift,” Jenny retorted. Her mother didn’t like the tone of the little girl, but she was not wrong either. She wasn’t able to gift Jenny anything new for the last couple of years.

“OK, do one thing. Tonight at midnight, make a wish and I promise it will get fulfilled,” her mother promised. She could spare some savings for a new doll.

Jenny was ecstatic and couldn’t wait for the midnight. At the stroke of midnight, she made a wish. A simple wish.

The next morning, her mother came to Jenny’s room to wake her up for school. She saw her daughter was surrounded by strange things around her. She could see Rollerblades, a football, a golden ring, a parrot and what was that! Was it an artificial leg? She gasped.

What did her daughter wish for?

Can you guess what was Little Jenny’s wish??

Note:

We have discontinued with the weekly linky party. However, we will be sharing the prompts with our stories. Feel free to write on the prompts every Thursday. You can share the links in the comment section. We promise to read it. There is no word limit anymore. 

We request you to kindly share our links in your posts. <#TellTalethursday with @anshu and @priya so that others can reach us.

As always, write bold write unique. 

Posted in #TellTaleThursday | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

#TellTaleThursday – The Hand

Credit: Unsplash

“Aren’t you afraid of ghosts?” Sia asked Rohan upon leaving the theatre after watching a late-night ghost movie. “The whole theatre was screaming in fear, only you were sitting unperturbed through it all.”

“There are no ghosts in the real world,” Rohan replied.

“How can you be so sure?”

“Because I haven’t come across one in 33 years of my life,” he replied nonchalantly, already bored with the subject. As if it wasn’t enough that he had to watch a silly movie, now he had to talk about it too.

As luck would have it, there were ghosts in his dream too. A white sunken face bobbing on a wasted body was chasing Rohan in the woods. Though he was running to the best of his ability, it wasn’t enough. The ghost was quickly moving upon him. Rohan came upon a cottage, he went inside and locked the door. The ghost knocked at the door, but he couldn’t get inside. Rohan saw a lone emaciated hand with long nails making a screeching sound on the window pane.

Rohan woke up with a start. He shook his head to ward off the unpleasant dream. Strange, he had never dreamed of ghosts before. Maybe the movie had a part to play in this.

He was thirsty, so he went to the kitchen. He filled up a glass of ice-cold water and started sipping. He heard a screeching sound outside the window and turned around. It couldn’t be true! It was the same white hand.

Note:

We have discontinued with the weekly linky party. However, we will be sharing the prompts with our stories. Feel free to write on the prompts every Thursday. You can share the links in the comment section. We promise to read it. There is no word limit anymore. 

We request you to kindly share our links in your posts. <#TellTalethursday with @anshu and @priya so that others can reach us.

As always, write bold write unique. 

Posted in #TellTaleThursday | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Let the hair down – #TellTaleThursday

Prompt for this week –

At a dinner party, you find that someone’s drink is spiked

Write a story narrating what you will do next.

Pub with bartenders and people sitting and ordering

Image credit: Unsplash

Word count – 247 Words

Let the hair down

He was sitting on the Barstool, sipping his whiskey, neat. There was a terrible cacophony in the pub, loud music, drunk people trying to drown the music with their loud talking and clinking glasses. This party looked like a mistake. He should have heeded his instinct and never come.

“Excuse me, can you mind your leg please?” said the polite, but a haughty voice from the next stool. He turned around to see a small, petite women in her late-twenties, oval face, brown eyes, long hair tied in a low chignon and red lips.

“Sorry!” He said aloud. His smile was not returned.

“Bartender, coke please!” She squeaked in her feminine voice.

“After a long week at work, you need more than a coke I am sure,” he joked, looking at the laptop bag resting at the foot of the stool.

“I don’t drink with strangers, thank you!” She retorted and turned her face.

That was definitely a brush-off from Miss Hoity-Toity. He said to himself.

It happened so suddenly that he had barely time to react. The bartender winked at him and poured what definitely looked like rum in his neighbor’s glass of coke.

Without realizing, she gulped down the contents of the glass in a single breath. And asked for another. The bartender again gave her a spiked drink.

A few minutes later, she kept the phone down and turned to him, eyes drowsy and appealing.

“This is my favorite song. How about a dance?”

We have discontinued with the weekly linky party. However, we will be sharing the prompts with our stories. Feel free to write on the prompts every Thursday. You can share the links in the comment section. We promise to read it. There is no word limit anymore. 

We request you to kindly share our links in your posts. <#TellTalethursday with @anshu and @priya so that others can reach us.

As always, write bold write unique. 

 

Posted in #TellTaleThursday | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

Book Review – The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

I am taking part in the Write Tribe Reading Challenge and I have opted to read 24 books this year (though I am hoping to read more). There are 24 prompts given, and this book adheres to three of them:

8. A book with a name in the title

9. A book with orange cover (I finally got it 🙂 )

10. A book set in a country that you visited/want to visit

Image credit: Amazon

I must confess that I finished reading this book in 4 months, though I read 95% of the book only in the last 4 days.

It’s my good fortune that of late, I have been coming across beautiful books. The credit goes to my blogger friends who read and recommend these books.

So, without further ado, let me write about The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

Plot

One morning, Harold Fry, a former brewery manager recently retired, finds a letter from an acquaintance, Queenie Hennessy, he hadn’t heard for over 20 years. The letter said Queenie was dying of a terminal cancer in a hospice in Berwick-upon-Tweed. Harold Fry was shaken. He wrote her a reply and started out to post the letter. However, when the post box cropped up, he didn’t feel like posting the letter so soon, so he decided to walk till the next box. But he still didn’t post and walked till the next one. He even walked past the post office and didn’t post the letter. A chance meeting with a girl in a garage shop who said how keeping faith and being positive helped her aunt (who had cancer), showed him the light. He decided to walk the length of the United Kingdom (from Kingsbridge at the south of England to Berwick-upon-Tweed, the most northern town in England) to meet Queenie, the woman who had once saved Harold’s life and had got nothing in return.

It didn’t matter to him that he was wearing yachting shoes and not walking shoes, he was not carrying any change of clothes and that he was not even carrying his mobile phone. He didn’t think of much except putting one foot before the other. Even when his feet developed blisters and were bleeding, he continued walking. Initially, Harold was too shy to ask for help. However, he met some very kind people on his journey and started believing in the genuineness of humanity.

Soon, he realized that it was not right on his part to squander his retirement fund on guest houses and daily meals. He decided to reach Berwick upon the largesse of the nature and people. He drank spring water, fruits from the fields and wild mushrooms foraged from the forest. He humbly accepted whatever people offered him and made sure he never took more than required.

Harold’s journey became a sensation in England and people in every city and town that he visited came forward to help Harold. In his journey, joined a motley of characters; all had a different purpose, but they made Harold’s journey their own.

At the end of 87 days after walking 627 miles, Harold reached Berwick to meet Queenie.

Review

If you start reading the book, you will find it very ordinary. A retired old man starting a journey to meet a long-lost friend – what’s so extraordinary about it?

Well, the extraordinary is not in the man – but in the faith of the man that prompts him to make a tediously long journey. The extraordinary is in the humanity that picks up the old man whenever he falters. The extraordinary is in the learning that the man receives during his journey.

The title of the book is apt – it may be journey for some, but for Harold Fry it was a pilgrimage. A pilgrimage he needed to make to atone for his past sins, to be free of the guilt and burden of them and make peace with his present.

I liked Harold Fry for who he is – an honest man who doesn’t like to break his promise. But I also like the other characters in the story who are as lovable as Harold – Rex, who has recently lost his wife and is very helpful to Maureen deal with the absence of Harold and Kate – the only sane person who joins, albeit briefly, Harold in his journey.

I liked the book because of its simple writing, unassuming humor and not-over-the-top emotional drama.

Posted in Book Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

#TellTaleThursday – 30th May 2019

Prompt for this week –

Fiction picture prompt for #TellTaleThursday

Picture Credit: Unsplash.com

The Bridge to Hell

Word count – 164 Words

Her mother told her not to cross the wooden bridge.

“It’s the bridge to hell! One who goes never comes back,” she said.

Little Anna was scared and did not set foot on the wooden bridge. But now her mother was gone, her husband died in the war and her baby due to the fever. There was no one to stop her. She was not afraid of the bridge, neither of hell.

Her heart started beating faster as she set her feet on the bridge. But she took a deep breath and started walking towards the other end.

The sky was bluer, the grass greener and the air cleaner. She felt suddenly lighter as if a big load had gotten off her chest. She felt happier as she had never felt before. There was no pain, hatred or jealousy.

She wondered why this was called Hell! She hoped she had paid back for all her karma. She hoped she would never be sent back.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

https://fresh.inlinkz.com/js/widget/load.js?id=9fc34a6dd0c8ab0ddfb0

The rules are simple:

  • Write a story, complete in itself.
  • Check spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
  • Copy and paste your Story URL to the inLinkz list.
  • The story should be up to 250 words.
  • Add this line < #TellTaleThursday with Anshu & Priya > at the end of the post.
  • Read, comment and share – spread the love.

 

Posted in #TellTaleThursday | Tagged , , , , , | 11 Comments