Review copy was received from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
A Mumbai Murder Mystery by Meeti Shrof-Shaw
Series: Temple Hill Murder Mystery #1
on December 9, 2021
Among the rarefied circles of Mumbai’s posh Temple Hill, there is nothing more tragic than the loss of face — not even loss of life.
Award-winning novelist Radhi Zaveri flees home to Temple Hill trying to escape a broken heart and humiliating writer’s block.
But she is met by a terrible tragedy. Her pregnant best friend Sanjana’s father has killed himself.
And yet, just hours before, he was telling Sanjana that he couldn’t wait to hold his grandchild in his arms. What triggered this desperate act? And why is their young maid so terrified?
Radhi is determined to uncover the truth. But the deeper she digs beneath the diamond-studded prayer meetings and the lavishly catered ‘pure-veg’ brunches, the faster she finds herself drawn into a web of festering grievances, hidden agendas and long-buried secrets.
A mystery by a debut author set in Southeast Asia with an engaging amateur detective seemed just the thing when I was perusing books and looking for a new mystery. Not long after delving into Temple Hill the posh Mumbai neighborhood, getting a description of life, food, and people, and then a possible murder to tickle my fancy, I had no doubt that I would be enjoying A Mumbai Murder Mystery to the hilt.
A Mumbai Murder Mystery introduces ‘Radhi’ Zaveri. She lived a decade in NYC and has returned to the home her deceased parents left her to lick her wounds after a relationship goes sour and her writing muse dries up and to figure out who she is when back in her traditional culture. Her welcome home seems all she could expect until she learns her pregnant best friend is absent from the party and Sanjana’s irascible father, Kirti, has just committed suicide. Only, Radhi knows this man and, along with Sanjana, is highly skeptical of the suicide verdict. Her insider track with the family has her spotting evidence that doesn’t add up especially near the dead man and she finds herself stepping into an investigative role alongside her friend who refuses to believe her strong-willed parent would end things like that.
As with many books set in a different country, I have hopes that culture, society, religion, and culinary elements will play a strong role in the setting and background, that dialogue and characters will jive with the setting, and I can immerse myself in a different place. Since the author was writing from her own knowledge, this turned out to be the case and the Jain neighborhood of Temple Hill came to life for me. People on the social rise and a tight-knit place where everyone knew each other’s business. Life, careers, religion, and oh glorious food were prominent.
Radhi turned out to be a delightful detective heroine. She needs a new start and really needs to get her writing back on track. Even her health and mental health has let her down. Radhi is experiencing an identity crisis of sorts when she feels she is straddling two worlds represented by her as the woman back in NYC and her the woman in Mumbai. I liked seeing her get back in stride and find a new start in her home city and among those she knows. I like that this will be a series so there will be more of Radhi and the people of Temple Hill.
As to the mystery, I really didn’t try to solve it. I was caught up in all that was going on so I was content to look over Radhi and Sanjana’s shoulders as they put together Kirti’s life and movements leading up to his death. I thought the mystery was well-written and concluded moderately well. As this is a debut, I can only see these getting better. It felt more cozy than thriller as to tone and the way this was also Radhi’s story.
All in all, it hit the spot and I was well-pleased with trying something new. Recommend to cozy mystery fans who like a diversity-rich setting and an amateur sleuth.
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