Book Review – The Satapur Moonstone

A few months ago, I had read Sujata Massey’s The Murder on Malabar Hill and was quite impressed with her writing skills. If you would like to read the book review, just click here.

So, when I came across another mystery from her, I picked it up without a second thought.

Plot

Perveen Mistry is engaged by Kolhapur Agency, a subdivision of the British Government in India, to rule over princely states in the Western Ghat region, which are left without male rulers and/or whose princes are still not of age to take over the throne. One such princely state is Satapur that has undergone a double tragedy. Not only it lost its maharaja due to a sudden illness, but also lost the teenage prince in a tragic hunting accident. The state is now run by an agent of the British Raj and the dowager queen and her daughter in law.

The royal ladies are in a bitter argument over the education of the young crown prince, and because these ladies are in purdah, a ladies’ counsel is sought. Perveen being the only female lawyer in India visits the palace in the hope to find an amicable solution to the problem, but little does she know that the palace is full of hidden perils for the royal family and herself.

Review

I am in love with the bold female protagonist, Perveen Mistry. The writer did a fine work of building up Perveen’s character in her first book. However, for people who read The Satapur Moonstone before The Murder on Malabar Hill will be slightly confused as there are numerous references to Perveen’s past in this book. Perveen seems to have lost her chutzpah in this book, she is making one assumption after another without any evidence to back her assumptions.

There is a motley of characters in this story, most of them interesting. For example, I liked the royal jester, Aditya’s character. However, most others disappointed me. The British agent Colin’s character starts on an interesting note; his foot is amputated, but he practices Yoga daily, there was a lot of scope to involve him in the story. But Colin is quickly pushed into the background resurfacing from time to time more as a support to Perveen than a strong lead, which I found disappointing. Colin would have made an excellent ally to Perveen.

The plot is thick and luscious, the characters are fascinating and the mystery is involving, but alas, the writer is not able to carry it through. It’s like one has the perfect recipe and awesome ingredients, but the chef is having a bad day. That’s what I felt here. The story could have benefitted from a tighter writing. The mysteries of the lost and found camera and Roderick Ames were not followed through.

I found the description of food very evocative. Ten different types of chicken that cook Rama prepares, the kipper that Perveen is loathe to eat at the Royal Western India Turf Club and kande pohe that the cook of Vandana Mehta prepares build up colorful images. Also, I loved the care with which Massey describes the saris that Perveen and the royal ladies wear.

The book touched Perveen’s need for physical and emotional companionship and also created a romantic angle between Perveen and Colin; hope the writer builds on it in her next book, that should be something to look forward to.

Verdict

The Satapur Moonstone might not be as gripping as Sujata Massey’s first one, but still it’s a good read. I would definitely recommend.

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 one of them. Seriously, only one!!

2. A book written by a Female author

16. A book on crime-solving

20. A book which is a 2019 release

About Anshu Bhojnagarwala

Fiction Addict. Agatha Christie Fan.
This entry was posted in Book Reviews and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Book Review – The Satapur Moonstone

  1. Damyanti Biswas says:

    Good Review Anshu. Thank You for your honest feedback.

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