The Case of the Love Commandos by Tarquin Hall
When Ram and Tulsi fall in love, the young woman’s parents are dead set against the union. She’s from a high-caste family; he’s an Untouchable, from the lowest strata of Indian society. Young Tulsi’s father locks her up and promises to hunt down the loverboy dog. Fortunately, India’s Love Commandos, a group of volunteers dedicated to helping mixed-caste couples, come to the rescue. But just after they liberate Tulsi, Ram is mysteriously snatched from his hiding place.
The task of finding him falls to India’s Most Private Investigator. Unfortunately, Vish Puri is not having a good month. He’s failed to recover a cache of stolen jewels. His wallet has been stolen and he’s having to rely on his infuriating Mummy-ji to get it back. And to top it all, his archrival, suave investigator Hari Kumar, is also trying to locate Ram. To reunite the star-crossed lovers, Puri and his team of operatives must infiltrate Ram’s village and navigate the caste politics shaped by millennia-old prejudices.
~Synopsis from Goodreads
The Vish Puri detective series is an Indian detective series somewhat in the style of Alexander McCall Smith’s Mme Ramotswe series (that is, a lot of focus on local color). I have reviewed the first 3 books in the series here, here, and here and this is a review of the fourth book in the series.
This book is a pleasant comeback after the disappointing neither humorous, nor mysterious last outing of Vish Puri.
This time around, I thoroughly enjoyed this Vish Puri adventure.
As usual, some topical issues are discussed – the main mystery revolves around casteism, and familial harsh reactions that occur if young people wish to marry out of caste. These reactions can be very harsh up to and including forced marriages to someone within caste, murder, and at the very least tons of emotional blackmail and harassment.
The secondary mystery involving Vish Puri’s mother (mummyji) involves a religious pilgrimage to Vaishno Devi and the resolving of a heist that takes place there.
My personal impressions of the book are that mystery-wise, this is the best book of the series. It took almost until the end of the book to unravel a pretty knotty and well-done mystery.
The humor element that I look forward to in Vish Puri novels is noticeably missing however. I didn’t mind the lack of it though. Humor and jokes should flow smoothly in the novel and if it doesn’t fit the book, it shouldn’t be there. I found the humor in his earlier Vish Puri book too forced and repetitive, and I am glad this one doesn’t fall into the same trap.
Overall, an enjoyable little book, and I am glad I am continuing with the Vish Puri series. Vish Puri is a pleasant breath of fresh air from the earnest, tormented, and beaten bloody blue detectives that are a dime a dozen in mystery/thriller genre fiction.
An Aside: I can’t end this review without mentioning this weird dream I had one night a couple of days after finishing this book. I had this dream where there was this news announcement that revealed that Tarquin Hall the author is an Indian Sardar named Gagandeep Singh.
This dream was so vivid. I can’t tell you! I woke up in a bit of a confusion and it took me a while to realize this was just a dream, and not real news . I suppose that’s saying something about how realistic and true to life these books are.
Huge thanks to Penguin Random House for sending this book in exchange for an honest review.