Wednesday, July 07, 2010

The Man Who Died Laughing -- Tarquin Hall

Tarquin Hall's series about Vish Puri, Most Private Investigator, was recommended by Jeff Meyerson in a comment a while back. Since Jeff and I often agree on books, I decided to give one of Hall's a try. I'm glad I did.

The setting is Delhi, India, where it's even hotter and more humid than Alvin, Texas, and Hall does a great job of getting that across. In fact, he does so well with the setting that it's almost like being there. He captures the language, too, and that's another part of the book's charm.

Vish Puri is a middle-aged p.i. who likes eating lots of food, preferably spicy, and keeping cool. He also likes challenging cases, and he has one this time, and "impossible crime" of the classic sort. A man appears to have been killed in a very public place, surrounded by witnesses, by a fire-breathing manifestation of the goddess Kali, who plunges a sword into him. Kali then disappears, as does the sword. The suspects include a "godman," who reminded me of nothing so much as a good old televangelist. Puri learns a good bit about magic as he studies the case. Meanwhile, his wife and mother are involved in a case of their own ("The Kase of The Kitty Party Robbery" would be my title for it), his daughter is about to have twins, and his brother-in-law is involved in yet another get-rich-quick scheme.

Puri's assistants include Facecream, Tubelight, and Handbrake. Puri's fond of nicknames. The most intriguing of these is Facecream, but all the characters are well done. The book is funny, the mystery is complex, and the pace is quick. Check it out.


Anonymous said...

Glad you liked it. Chubby is a fun character, I loved his mother and the plots are fun.


David Cranmer said...

This is the second time I've seen this author reviewed today. For the Book Review Club Alyssa Goodnight gave thumbs up to THE CASE OF THE MISSING SERVANT by TARQUIN HALL.

Well, off we go to order.