Murder in Old Bombay
by Nev March
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Pub Date 10 Nov 2020 | Archive Date 24 Nov 2020
St. Martin's Press, Minotaur Books
Nominated for an Edgar Award for Best First Novel!
In 19th century Bombay, Captain Jim Agnihotri channels his idol, Sherlock Holmes, in Nev March’s Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Award-winning debut.
In 1892, Bombay is the center of British India. Nearby, Captain Jim Agnihotri lies in Poona military hospital recovering from a skirmish on the wild northern frontier, with little to do but re-read the tales of his idol, Sherlock Holmes, and browse the daily papers. The case that catches Captain Jim's attention is being called the crime of the century: Two women fell from the busy university’s clock tower in broad daylight. Moved by Adi, the widower of one of the victims — his certainty that his wife and sister did not commit suicide — Captain Jim approaches the Parsee family and is hired to investigate what happened that terrible afternoon.
But in a land of divided loyalties, asking questions is dangerous. Captain Jim's investigation disturbs the shadows that seem to follow the Framji family and triggers an ominous chain of events. And when lively Lady Diana Framji joins the hunt for her sisters’ attackers, Captain Jim’s heart isn’t safe, either.
Based on a true story, and set against the vibrant backdrop of colonial India, Nev March's Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Award-winning lyrical debut, Murder in Old Bombay, brings this tumultuous historical age to life.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 390 members
I received this ARC via Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press, in return for an honest review. This is a stand-alone mystery, sent in 1892 India. This is a wonderful and sweeping story. If you liked the Agatha-winning ‘Widows of Malabar Hill’, you should really enjoy this book. It combines mystery, drama, intrigue, romance. All are set against a backdrop of the British rule in India. The protagonist is Captain (medically retired) James Agnihotri. He is a half-Indian/half-Anglo, so outcast in both societies. The book opens when he’s in long-term convalescence after a serious injury in the military. He reads a letter in the Bombay newspaper from a young widower whose wife and sister died from falls at the University tower. The falls were ruled suicides based on the evidence at the time. A closing line resonates with Captain Jim and he seeks out the widower, Mr. Adi Framji. Adi lives with his parents and younger siblings in a grand mansion while he studies law. Captain Jim initially plans a career as a newspaper reporter with this as his first story. Instead Adi hires Jim to investigate the deaths and determine what really happened. As a great Sherlock Holmes fan, Jim believes he can apply order and method to his investigation. Things really take off from there, with trips to neighboring Princely States and to areas under Afghan and British skirmishes. Jim encounters people from all classes and castes; he’s exposed to religious issues and how ethnicity and status permeate all areas.
I enjoyed this book very much. Other reviewers note that it is long and does contain a great deal of plotline. I was okay with this as the story moved well for me. I also enjoyed the romance in the story. There is triumph and tragedy in the story. The characters are believable and engaging. This book is definitely worth the reading time.
Stunning and brilliant, this is a riveting, totally engaging novel! The story is complex and full of deeply realized characters who will stay with you long after you finish. The story twists and turns with loads of exciting intrigue and plenty of action throughout fascinating locales in late 19th century India. It is impeccably researched and simply an immensely readable story. The reader will be immediately immersed into a unique, satisfying experience! If any novel can be called a page-turner, it is this one!
The story is epic, with a cast of characters that are captivating, and with an interesting highlight on the Parsi culture as well as the in-between world of the Anglo-Indian. It is full of resplendent glory, tough military action, soldier trauma, hard-won courage, prejudice, and poignant relationships. The author also sensitively features Indian issues of that period.
Readers will not want to put this one down! Though the ending is thoroughly satisfying, and eagerly awaited, the reader will certainly regret having to say goodbye to this incredibly exciting story and its luminous characters.
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