The wonderful fourth outing for Delhi detective Vish Puri ('the Indian Hercule Poirot' Financial Times).
When India’s Love Commandos rescue a young woman from a high-caste family who has been forbidden from marrying an untouchable, she looks set to live happily ever after with the man she truly loves. But just hours before the wedding, her boyfriend, Ram, is abducted. Has his would-be father-in-law made good on his promise and done away with him?
It falls to Vish Puri to find out. Unfortunately, he’s not having a good month. He can’t locate a haul of stolen jewellery. He’s been pickpocketed. And the only person who can get his wallet back is his interfering Mummy-ji.
Things only get worse when he discovers that his arch-rival, Hari Kumar, is also trying to locate the abducted boy – as is a genetics research institute exploiting illiterate villagers.
To find Ram first, Puri and his team must travel into the badlands of rural India where the local politics are shaped by millennia-old caste prejudices.
'If Mma Ramotswe is an African Marple, Vish Puri is an Indian Poirot'
'A joy to read'
In Hall's thought-provoking and charming fourth mystery featuring PI Vish Puri (after 2012's The Case of the Deadly Butter Chicken), a young Delhi couple's plan to marry runs afoul of the bride's powerful father, who objects to his future son-in-law's low caste. The Love Commandos of the title, a group of volunteers who help couples divided by caste, intervene. The festering rot caused by India's caste system permeates every page, as do the corruption of officials and the systemic abuse of the Dalits, the former Untouchable caste. In addition, a pickpocket with a nagging wife attracts the attention of Mummy-ji, Puri's mother and unwelcome co-investigator. This series has dealt with progressively more serious topics, but Hall, the author of Salaam Brick Lane and two other works of nonfiction, hasn't lost his light touch. The recipes at the end are a bonus.