The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I struggled with this book and it came perilously close to a DNF. Only my interest in the character of Perveen – lawyer/female gumshoe/fighter for women’s rights- enabled me to pick up this book again.
This book had a major stylistic fault.I hate flashbacks at this best of times and the flashbacks in this novel overwhelmed the mystery – and the mystery is what I signed up for. Ms Massey may have done this because the whodunnit part of this novel is very slight. Just not enough meat to sustain a whole book. I think Ms Massey would have been better advised to build up both the mystery, give more depth to the supporting characters and have Perveen’s back story revealed over the course of several books – sort of like Sue Grafton did with Kinsey Milhouse. In particular, her husband Cyrus’s fate could have been left for a sequel.
Also, for such a strong character, Perveen gave up her fight to qualify as a lawyer in 1910s Bombay very quickly. Consistency in character was sacrificed to the storyline.
The writing also had faults. Lots of asking questions, lots of explaining. Made the read very heavy going.
I had an earlier book of Ms Massey’s on one of my to-read lists, but deleted it when this story hit a particularly exasperating road bump. But I don’t rule out reading the next Perveen story The Satapur Moonstone if I read that the author stays in one time period and doesn’t make the next book so much of a history lesson!