We’re now only a matter of days away from our First Monday Crime Christmas Spectacular! We have a great panel lined up for you with Shamini Flint, Sam Blake, Simon Brett and Tarquin Hall. Jake Kerridge will be moderating. We also have for your delectation, Criminal Mastermind with Angela Clarke and Claire McGowan. Who will win the coveted title? You’ll have to come along to find out! And there’s wine kindly provided by Severn House and cookies from yours truly. You can reserve your seat here.
I’ve had the chance to read and review the new novel from Tarquin Hall called The Case of the Reincarnated Client. Thank you to Natasha at Severn House for sending me a copy. Before I give you my thoughts, here’s the blurb.
A client claiming she was murdered in a past life is a novel dilemma even for Vish Puri, India’s Most Private Investigator. When a young woman comes forward claiming to be the reincarnation of Riya Kaur, a wife and mother who vanished during the bloody 1984 anti-Sikh riots, Puri is dismissive. He’s busy enough dealing with an irate matrimonial client whose daughter is complaining about her groom’s thunderous snoring. Puri’s indomitable Mummy-ji however is adamant the client is genuine. How else could she so accurately describe under hypnosis Riya Kaur’s life and final hours? Driven by a sense of duty – the original case was his late father’s – Puri manages to acquire the police file only to find that someone powerful has orchestrated a cover-up. Forced into an alliance with his mother that tests his beliefs and high blood pressure as never before, it’s only by delving into the past the help of his reincarnated client that Puri can hope to unlock the truth.
The main challenge in all murder investigations is to find the murderer and prove behind doubt that that particular person is responsible. Of course, only the murderer and the victim know exactly what occurred. Through forensics the victim is able to give certain information but what if he or she could actually tell the police what had happened? That’s the question for Vish Puri, private detective. Is reincarnation the answer?
This is the fifth book in Tarquin Hall’s successful Vish Puri series. As such, it’s not that easy to read as a standalone as the characters are now very established. So it took me a while to settle into it especially as Puri has nicknames for all his workers. Some are more obvious than others, for example, Handbrake is his driver. Puri is also a very busy man, juggling quite a few cases at a time. The reincarnation storyline is the main plot but there are also other issues for him to deal with including money laundering and a snoring bridegroom. I have to say that the latter was one of my favourite parts of the book and gave some light relief to the more serious crimes.
Riya Kaur’s mysterious disappearance in 1984 during the anti-Sikh riots is a case well-known to Puri. His father had been the original police detective investigating the missing woman which he’d been unable to solve. A young woman claiming to be the reincarnation of Riya might be able to provide the answers. Puri is sceptical but his Mummy-ji is convinced. The anti-Sikh riots were a dark part of modern India’s history. I’d forgotten about them until I read this. Hall has managed to capture the fear and horror that the Sikh community must have felt. I don’t want to give too much away but this plotline is particularly moving.
Apart from the snoring bridegroom, my other favourite part was Mummy-ji. She tests Puri with her stubbornness, her old mobile phone that’s never switched on (I know that one!) and her ability to take forty winks at the wrong time. I loved her as a character and she proved herself to be as good a detective as her son. I just hope that Puri’s wife, Rumpi, also gets a chance to take part in her husband’s business. She has the patience of a saint as she cooks amazing food for her husband who then doesn’t come home to eat.
If you’re after a lighter crime read with an international flavour then it’s worth looking at the Vish Puri series. But I do think it might be better to start at the beginning.
To find out more about Tarquin Hall and buy his Vish Puri series click here. Or come and buy on the night and get your copy signed.
Tarquin Hall is a British author and journalist who has previously lived in the USA, Pakistan, India, Kenya and Turkey. He now divides his time between the UK and India, and is married to BBC reporter and presenter Anu Anand. He is the author of four previous Vish Puri mysteries.