A good mystery novel localizes the awesome force of the real death outside the book, winds it tightly in a plot.
Book Name: The Satapur Moonstone
Author: Sujata Massey
The second in Perveen Mistry series, this story revolves around a mythical kingdom in British India who lost two of its rulers in the past year and half with the present crown Prince being just 10 years old – the kingdom needs a lawyer who can counsel on what can be done further.
The royal ladies are in a dispute over the education of the young crown prince, and a lawyer’s counsel is required. Since they practice Purdah (The practice in certain Muslim and Hindu societies of screening women from men or strangers, especially by means of a curtain). Our heroine, Perveen Mistry Esquire is set to the palace on behalf of British Government to counsel the two Maharanis – Dowager queen and her daughter-in-law regarding the education of the Crown Prince. What she discovers next and how she solves a mysterious murder forms the whole story.
The first book The Widows of Malabar Hill was one of my best reads, so I was eager to read this second entry in the Perveen Mistry series. She became my favorite heroine. The first half of the book does a great job of bringing the Satara mountains in India to life during 1922.
We have been taught about the freedom movement throughout and know very little about how the lives were, the social hierarchy and princely states. I thoroughly appreciate Ms. Massey’s ability to educate me while entertaining me. Her books are beautifully written and evocative, depicting settings in ways that make me want to enter them. You see not only Britain’s colonialism in India but also the caste system and the different religions. Ms. Massey does a really good job of showing a lot through Perveen’s travels and interactions.
The rich details and descriptions of everything from the culture, the environment, the food, clothing, buildings, people, etc. made me feel like I was in another time and place and while reading. I pictured the surroundings, heard the creatures, and tasted the food in my imagination.
Though there were no big surprises in the story, there is a nice suspense as the final scenes unfolded, I found myself quite anxious for the safety of Perveen and the young prince and princess, and their mother! However, I could see the series becoming formulaic.
Things I liked
- Undoubtedly, Perveen Mistry and the way she investigates
- The compelling and fast-paced storyline
- Detailing how British India was and The Imperial rule
- How secular Indians were before Independence
Things I felt there can be improvements
- Too many characters and names to remember
- You know Perveen will save the day – so there is no real sense of suspense or drama
Highly Recommended – especially for those interested in gentle mysteries and historical fiction featuring strong women characters.