The Lost Man of Bombay by Vaseem Khan – Review

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By Sandra Callard

Author Vadeem Khan is building a strong and steady following for his novels, particularly The Malabar House Series of detective stories. The Lost Man of Bombay is his latest thrilling and very clever crime novel that will have the reader one hundred percent captivated by the fast paced and compelling story they are reading. Khan’s heroine is Persis Wadia, the first and only woman inspector in the Bombay police, and still a novelty, a threat and a nuisance to most of the males working there.

The story is set in the unsettled and somewhat dangerous time of Indian liberation from the British bond, when Indians wanted full power for themselves, and also sought retribution for those who had pandered to the British over the previous years of oppressive rule. Many white people stayed on to live in India permanently, for money, power or simply for an acquired love of the country, and this led to problems which show themselves clearly in the personal life of Inspector Persis.

The long-dead body of a white man is discovered in a cave high in the Himalayan hills above Bombay, just as two more new murders hit the city. Persis is on the job, which proves to be one of the most tangled, mysterious and dangerous jobs she has ever tackled. Persis is a wonderful character and very different from those of the English detectives. This proves a unique and satisfying change, even though the story can be quite brutal at times, reflecting on the times and the feelings of the recently oppressed.

“Deeper into the danger zone”

the lost man of bombay vaseem khan book review coverI will admit now that my idea of a good murder story is one which is set in a quiet English village with a trough of innocent characters who cannot possibly be guilty of the murder. It will have as much Agatha Christie as you can get, and with a thrilling and unexpected denouement. But these Bombay-located murder stories are pulling me away from all that. They are hard, realistic and fascinatingly hard to decipher. Persis is a terrific character, hard as nails but with a soft edge that terminates occasionally with an English man who loves her, but who she will not respond to because of their opposing ethnicities.

The author has a certain propensity for allowing Persis to find clues which are not quite enough for full enlightenment, so she heads on deeper into the danger zone, thus extending the threat for her and the excitement for the reader. This book is beautifully written with a flowing and pleasing text. The fire and heat of the subcontinent is vividly apparent throughout the whole book and almost makes you shed some clothing.

Certainly, if you love a bright and very different crime story, this is one to try, and happily it is just one of a series of crime books by Vaseem Khan which will keep me on the lookout for his next one.

‘The Lost Man of Bombay by Vadeem Khan’ is published by Hodder & Stoughton, £16.99 hardback


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