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The Bombay Prince

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The “Bombay prince” is the future Edward VIII, who in November 1921 took a four-month tour of India, one of the many colonial lands he expected to rule one day. Many Indians supporting independence were angry about the visit, which led to calls for boycotts and agitation in the streets.

This historic event is the setting for the third in Sujata Massey’s excellent mysteries of 1920s India featuring Perveen Mistry, the country’s first female solicitor (she’s fictional but based on a real-life figure).

Miss Freny Cuttingmaster, a talented student at Woodburn College, stops by Mistry Law for a legal consultation with Perveen. She and her classmates are required to attend the parade celebrating the Prince of Wales’s arrival in Bombay, but Freny detests what he symbolizes and wants to stay away. Impressed by her principles, Perveen advises her as best she can. Then, on the day of the procession, poor Freny’s body is found on the ground, beneath a balcony on her campus. Was her death suicide-as-protest, a political murder, or something else?

Massey admirably directs a cast of dozens, all with distinct personalities and with a range of religious backgrounds. The amount of cultural information smoothly woven through these pages is astounding and is exhibited via the characters’ interactions. The Cuttingmasters are Parsis, like Perveen, which leads her and her lawyer father, Jamshedji, to advocate for Freny’s distraught parents during the coroner’s inquest and ensure her funeral at Doongerwadi isn’t improperly delayed. Feeling an affinity for their late daughter, Perveen wants to see justice done, but she’s disconcerted by Mr. Cuttingmaster’s abruptness (he’s a tailor, as his name suggests) and tries to act without causing offense. She doesn’t always succeed.

Perveen’s manner feels stiff at times, which she acknowledges; it feels appropriate to her status as a pioneering woman in her field who happens to be separated from an abusive husband. Both on the job and within society, her behavior must be above reproach, plus Jamshedji disapproves of her socializing with men. This includes Colin Sandringham, an English political agent helping to arrange the prince’s itinerary. Readers of the previous book will be happy to see him again. Perveen and Colin had become close during her trip to Satapur, but as for a relationship between them – there be danger ahead, she knows.

Followers of the series should delight in how this book ends, and anyone tempted by mentions of the delicious Indian dishes consumed by the characters can find recipes on the author’s website.
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Perveen Mistry holds a unique status in 1920’s Bombay as India’s sole female solicitor. The title of Sujata Massey’s mystery, The Bombay Prince, refers to The Prince of Wales, son of King Edward VII and grandson of Queen Victoria, Queen of the United Kingdom and Empress of India, who is about to embark on a tour of India. The four-month visit of the British heir apparent is not universally welcomed by the citizens of Bombay. Many Indians chafe under British colonial rule and yearn for its end. On July 1st, 1867, three British colonies merged to form the new, self-governed country of Canada. Why could India not follow a similar path?

Royal tours aside, a lawyer’s lot is paved with contracts. Mr. Shah is a client who wants to rent out his bungalow. Mr. Ahmad is a well-qualified potential tenant.

But suddenly, her client wanted an amendment prohibiting the butchering of meat. Mr. Ahmad had crossed that out and written in capital letters that his wife had the right to cut and cook whatever she pleased. He also insisted that Mr. Shah replace a dying mango tree in the garden.

What is behind these last-minute antics? “Perveen suspected that religious anxiety had infected her Parsi client and made the prospective renter react defensively.” Perveen subtly reminds Mr. Shah that “municipal taxes would rise in the new year,” causing him to reconsider his demands because an empty house won’t garner him a rent check. This dispute reminds readers that Bombay (renamed Mumbai in 1995) is not culturally homogeneous. The predominant but not exclusive religious groups in the city include Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, Jains, Christians, Parsis, and Sikhs.

A young woman, Freny Cuttingmaster, comes to Perveen’s office to ask for a consultation, highly irregular. Mustafa, “the silver-haired giant who served as Mistry Law’s guard, butler, and receptionist,” tells Perveen that Freny was referred to Mistry Law by Alice Hobson-Jones, Perveen’s best friend, a Mathematics instructor at Woodburn College. The two women do a song and dance about how best Freny should address Perveen, the eighteen-year-old rejecting ‘Memsahib’ as too British and ‘ma’am,’ in Perveen’s opinion, skewing too old.

“If you’d like, you may call me Perveen-bai.”

 

Freny nodded. “Perveen-bai, I am representing Woodburn College’s Student Union. We are seeking a legal consultation.”

 

Activism was on an uptick throughout Bombay. In recent months the famous lawyer Mohandas Gandhi had been gaining adherents with his calls for protest against British rule. Perveen longed to assist freedom fighters, but she was a solicitor, so her work was mostly contracts. “I am honored you thought of Mistry Law. Would you like to tell me your concern?”

 

Freny looked intently at Perveen. “We want to know if we have the right to stay away from college without being punished.”

Perveen is puzzled and annoyed. Why would the student union be consulting a lawyer about something so trivial as students skipping class? Freny sets Perveen straight, saying the question is political. “We want to be absent from the college on the day the Prince of Wales enters Bombay. Did you know that Gandhiji has called a hartal?” A hartal is more than a boycott: it is a “concerted cessation of work and business especially as a protest against a political situation or an act of government.” The crux of the issue for Perveen is how to advise students who don’t wish to honor “the prince, yet not be punished by the authorities.” Unfortunately, feigning an illness to avoid the parade is not an option because telling the truth is a “cornerstone of the Parsi theology,” and a touchstone for Parsi Freny. Perveen has no good advice to give Freny, but she promises to look for college contracts that might offer an escape route in the three days before the prince’s arrival.

Perveen turns down her family’s invitation to join them to watch the prince’s triumphal entrance into Bombay. In all conscience, she cannot because she supports India’s eventual independence from Great Britain. At the last minute, worried about Freny’s ultimate decision to join (or not) her fellow students in the stands lining the prince’s route, Perveen rushes over to Woodburn College. Her friend Alice Hobson-Jones makes room for her, but Perveen can’t spot Freny, that is until she spots her prone body on the ground in the college’s garden. Freny must have fallen “from a second-floor gallery just as the prince’s grand procession” passed by the college. Perveen hopes that Freny is just stunned, that she isn’t dead, but when a constable turns over the body, Perveen knows that’s impossible: “The right underside of Freny’s face was smashed, with bits of bone protruding. She had fallen very hard indeed—or been struck.”

Feeling guilty for failing to have helped Freny in life, Perveen steps forward to assist Freny’s family in the fraught dealings of the coroner’s inquest. When Freny’s death is ruled a murder, Perveen knows she can’t rest until she sees justice done.

Her decision to help solve Freny’s murder puts Perveen’s Parsi family at risk because political tensions inexorably fuel religious tensions. Nevertheless, Perveen and her pappa Jamshedji, her legal mentor and the founder of the law firm, share a reverence for the rule of law and justice that supersedes their fears for their family’s safety. Besides, as Perveen said to Freny in their first and only meeting, “Bombay women are at least as strong as coconuts!” Perveen’s professional journey to be recognized as a full-fledged solicitor by the Bombay legal establishment—since the “Bombay High Court refused to recognize woman lawyers as advocates”—parallels her undeniable talent for detection. I look forward to a fourth Perveen Mistry novel for the young solicitor who undeniably lives in turbulent, interesting times and she’s right in the thick of it.
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This thoroughly enjoyable series is so well researched and written that I feel like I am in Bombay.  Perveen is such a great character, who tries to balance her work as the first female solicitor, her family obligations, her religion and her inquisitiveness.  She is a champion for those she believes in and wants to see justice for those who have been wronged.  In this latest book much is happening in Bombay with Prince Edward's visit and unrest in the city because of it.  I loved the historical aspect of the book and learned a lot, but the mystery is also interesting and kept me guessing.  This picks up where the last book left off and I was happy to see Colin make an appearance in this book as well.  The best book in the series so far.

I received a complimentary copy of this ebook from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
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This is exceptional! I have not read any of the other titles in this series, but had no trouble jumping right in. It is fascinating to explore the history of India through this very appealing and engaging mystery.
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This mystery series has gotten better with each installment, as we see more of Perveen Mistry and her intelligence and ground breaking legal position.  It’s 1921 in India, where violence is breaking out between British supporters and those wanting independence.  When Freny comes to Perveen’s office to ask her advice, Perveen is impressed with the young college student.  When a murder occurs, during the visit by Prince Edward in the midst of the unrest, Perveen becomes involved.  I am fascinated by the descriptions of politics and religious differences, as well as the plight of women to be recognized in positions of power.  I highly recommend this series, and thank NetGalley for the ARC.
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I truly love reading about Perveen's life.  I know very little about India's history, and the subtle revelations are very interesting.  It's wonderful that her parents are as supportive of her as they are.  Of course I'm interested in a romantic relationship for her, but it certainly seems impossible.....we shall see!
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I was again delighted to be granted access to an advance copy of Sujata Massey's third Perveen Mistry offering,   The Bombay Prince.  The continuing saga of India's first female lawyer was just as good as the first two!  Set during Prince Edward's extended visit and Bombay's inevitable response, a young girl's murder takes center stage.  Well drawn characters, clever plotting and of course, historical and cultural details, round out this book.  I would highly recommend to both mystery and historical fiction fans.  You won't be disappointed!
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Purveen Mistry is the only female solicitor in Bombay of 1921.  She feels she is always walking a thin line between what is respectable for a woman of her time and her desire to be a lawyer.  She is visited by Freny Cuttingmaster, a student at a local college, seeking her opinion.  This is a time of great unrest in Bombay.  Edward, Prince of Wales has come to India for a four-month long tour and many of the locals are not happy about it.  Many, wishing to be free of the English,  would like to cause trouble to their overlords. Freny supports their views and would like to boycott the parade in honor of the Prince, but she does not want to dishonor her parents who gave up so much for her education.  When Freny is found dead on the grounds of the college during the parade, Purveen is there and seeks justice for Freny.

I really liked Purveen.  She is a strong woman who has overcome obstacles (including a bad marriage) to get where she is and who truly wants to help the people she represents. I think the one thing that stands out to me is learning about India at the time and in particular the Parsis.of which Purveen is one.  I know a lot more about Hinduism, so this book was and education for me.  I really enjoyed the book and would recommend it to any of my patrons.
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I adored the first two books in this series, and this third one absolutely did not disappoint! Sujata Massey has a gift in relating the setting and time period and I can't wait to see what else she comes up with in the future!
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Thanks to Soho Press for the ARC!
I always enjoy Ms. Massey's books, and was  happy to see a new Perveen Mistry story.
This series is set in Bombay soon after WWI and Perveen, the main character, is a lawyer. 
The city, the era, society, culture and politics are all described vividly, and the protagonist's somewhat precarious place (the only female lawyer in the city) creates interesting situations.
The main story here is the death of a student at the school that a friend of Perveen's teaches at. 
Alice, her friend, and Colin, her not-boyfriend help Perveen try and solve the mystery.
Like someone else mentioned, I felt like the book ended abruptly, or there could have been more exposition, otherwise I would've said 5 stars.
I really enjoy this series and hope that there will be more.
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THE BOMBAY PRINCE by skilled author Sujata Massey is the third mystery in the Perveen Mistry series, set in 1920s India and featuring a female solicitor based in Bombay. Other titles are The Widows of Malabar Hill and The Satapur Moonstone. As ever, Perveen Mistry's heart is touched by others in need and this story starts with a visit from a young college student, Freny Cuttingmaster, hoping to avoid showing respect at an upcoming visit by the British royal family. That young girl is killed the same day as the parade honoring the visit and Perveen Mistry struggles to solve the crime while dealing with numerous constraints because of her gender and religion. The strength of this series is based not only on the complex "whodunit" aspects, but also on the detailed background provided about the political situation, historical societal practices, and religious beliefs. THE BOMBAY PRINCE received a starred review from Publishers Weekly. Other mysteries set in India include those by Abir Mukherjee and Nev March.
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The Bombay Prince is a lush read, one that gives you a real feel for Bombay in the declining days of the Raj. 

Perveen Mistry is a young, female, Oxford-educated barrister in practice with her father, and it's fascinating to see how much she can detect while staying within the constraints of her family and class. In this case, she investigates the death of a young Parsee student-- the same ethnic background she shares.

She relies on varies contacts within the community and her own analytical skills to figure out what happened to young Miss Cuttingmaster. Overall, an excellent read.
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Perveen Mistry investigates the murder of a college student that happens to occur while the Prince of Wales is visiting Bombay. I have learned so much about Indian history and culture from this series.
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Beautifully, yet simply written, this book reads as though it was written when it takes place….1921. Highly evocative, the author paints a vivid picture of time and place and I loved the luscious description of the clothing.  I almost felt as though unraveling the mystery was secondary to learning about Bombay society in this era as an independence movement burgeons.

Purveen Mistry, the first woman solicitor in Bombay, is a strong, independent character 
I didn’t realize that this was the third in a series; it is, then, the first I have read. It was a delightful introduction this author and her characters.
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In what may be the best yet in this series, readers get to follow a fascinating mystery while also exploring colonialism, politics, race, social issues, gender, and more in 1920s India. The story has many complex aspects and intriguing plot points, and with the ending, I'm very interested to see where Perveen's story will go next.
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I really loved the previous two novels in this series, but this one was just okay for me. The plot was quite slow.  It felt like most of the story was Perveen thinking about what to do next and asking permission to go out and talk to people. It seemed like her strong will and gumption that was on display in the previous novel was diminished in this one.  Also, the supporting characters did not seem really as developed as in the last novel, so I wasn’t really invested in solving the mystery. I do look forward to the next novel to see what happens with her personal relationships.
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Massey does not disappoint her Perveen Mistry fans in the third book. Not only is the mystery interesting, that of the death of a college student during the visit of Prince Edward in 1921, it gives us further insight into the lives of the Parsi. Perveen is the first female lawyer in Bombay. She works with her father, who despite the general view of women in the workplace at that time, respects her intellect and abilities. She is also a skillful detective in the search for justice. Although a character who was important in the second book, The Satapur Moonstone, is an integral part of this book and appears to have a romantic interest in Perveen, it is not necessary to have read the second book.
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Complexity........thy name is Woman.

Sujata Massey presents another outstanding edition to her Perveen Mistry Series. She carves her main female character with high intelligence, craftiness, persistence, and analytical skills that would make ol' Sherlock Holmes come up short. The Bombay Prince is a treasure of a read that incorporates the surge of the working class in support of independence from British rule. And, ah, we have the stepping forward of Perveen as the first woman solicitor. The stars are beginning to align.

It's November of 1921 and Bombay is anxiously preparing for the arrival of twenty-seven year old Edward, Prince of Wales. His impending presence will represent a gamut of emotions for the people. Some are supportive while others mirror the unrest of religious and political strife. We'll also experience the impact of Mohandas Gandhi, a freedom fighter working through boycotts. India in 1921 is filled with pockets of violence and the rise of terrorists representing their causes.

Perveen Mistry works alongside her father in a shared law practice. The Bombay High Court refuses to recognize women lawyers as advocates. Without her renowned father, Perveen would be relegated to menial tasks in the practice of law. It is through his support and her own endeavors that she is creating a name for herself.

The lid is lifted off this story when a young eighteen year old college student visits Perveen for advice. Freny Cuttingmaster attends Woolburn College and is an excellent student. She wishes to remain home on the day of Prince Edward's parade as in a silent boycott. But her fear is that the college will retaliate if she doesn't attend. Perhaps she will even be dismissed.

The flame within this story will be lit when young Freny's body is discovered near the parade by Perveen herself. The police believe that it was an accident from falling from the bleachers. Perveen believes otherwise.

Sujata Massey is royalty when it comes to developing high-tension storylines set in India. She captures the street scenes and sounds like no other as she elevates the emotions and the heightening tensions of the people. Her character of Perveen is a complicated gem who walks within the needs of the people while trying to adhere to the laws. It's through this fictional female character that we come to know the actual historical events and the escalating trauma of the times. And no one does it better than Massey. The Bombay Prince is a must read.

I received a copy of this novel through NetGalley for an honest review. My thanks to Soho Press and to Sujata Massey for the opportunity.
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I love Preveen mysteries! Atmospheric and complex!

As always Preveen Mistry, a Parsi divorced woman (unheard of), is an energising force as she quietly, yet forcefully, undertakes the various cases she’s given as a solicitor in her father’s law firm.
The time in history is interesting. It’s 1921 and Edward, the Prince of Wales is visiting Bombay as part of an extended royal visit.
Unrest is in the air. The Independence Activists want changes. The British authorities are concerned about possible attacks on the Prince and his entourage. 
Preveen has been consulted by a young female student, Ferny Cuttingmaster, from the prestigious Woodburn College where her friend Alice Hobson-Jones teaches. Freny seeks legal advice for the College’s Student Union around activism.
What she doesn’t foresee is that Freny will be involved in a fatal accident, and the more Preveen delves into the aspects of that, the more likely it appears that it might have been deliberately caused.
Edward’s visit sparks off riots. Livings are destroyed, and many jailed.
Preveen has her time cut out pursuing the truth behind Freny’s accident, and handling the many cases that come post the riots—from wrongly imprisoned people, to those seeking damages and representation.
Into this comes a friend from previous times, Colin Wythe Sandringham, an Indian Civil Service political officer with the British government. Someone Preveen greatly admires but with whom there can never be anything more. Customs, religious factors and honor will not allow that.
A very up close and personal look at India at this time, giving this mystery depth the political grounding of the time.
Massey is a whiz at combining these historical times with a captivating mystery, peppered with a variety of fascinating characters.

A Soho Press ARC via NetGalley
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This book features Perveen Mistry, Bombay's first female solicitor and takes place in 1921. The Prince of Wales is visiting Bombay creating controversy for Indian citizens who wish to be independent from Britain. When a college student dies during the Prince's procession through the city, Perveen doesn't think it's an accident and is determined to get justice for Freny. 

Perveen is limited by the societal restrictions of the times, but is still a strong female character. She is intelligent and tries to do her best for her clients and to make her father proud. It starts a little slow and took me a while to become engrossed in the story. In spite of some slow parts, the investigation has a dramatic ending and the book has an intriguing ending, making me wonder what will happen in the future between Perveen and Colin Sandringham, a political agent she became friends with during a previous case. Although I didn't enjoy this one as much as the prior two books, it is still an enjoyable historical mystery with a unique setting and premise. 

Thank you to NetGalley and Soho Press for providing an advance copy of this ebook. The book was provided to me at no cost, but my review is voluntary and unbiased.
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