In 19th century Bombay, Captain Jim Agnihotri channels his idol, Sherlock Holmes, in Nev March’s Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Award-winning debut.
In 1892, Bombay is the center of British India. Nearby, Captain Jim Agnihotri lies in Poona military hospital recovering from a skirmish on the wild northern frontier, with little to do but re-read the tales of his idol, Sherlock Holmes, and browse the daily papers. The case that catches Captain Jim's attention is being called the crime of the century: Two women fell from the busy university’s clock tower in broad daylight. Moved by Adi, the widower of one of the victims — his certainty that his wife and sister did not commit suicide — Captain Jim approaches the Parsee family and is hired to investigate what happened that terrible afternoon.
But in a land of divided loyalties, asking questions is dangerous. Captain Jim's investigation disturbs the shadows that seem to follow the Framji family and triggers an ominous chain of events. And when lively Lady Diana Framji joins the hunt for her sisters’ attackers, Captain Jim’s heart isn’t safe, either.
Based on a true story, and set against the vibrant backdrop of colonial India, Nev March's Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Award-winning lyrical debut, Murder in Old Bombay, brings this tumultuous historical age to life.
Set in 1892 Bombay, March's assured debut stars Jim Agnihotri, an Anglo-Indian army captain recuperating from an injury suffered on the frontier in Karachi. With little to distract him, he focuses on the sensational deaths of 19-year-old Bacha and 16-year-old Pilloo, members of a prominent Parsee family, who fell from a university clock tower. Rumors swirl that the pair committed suicide, but Agnihotri sees too many contradictions in reports about the deaths to believe it. When he reads an anguished letter-to-the-editor in The Chronicle of India from Bacha's husband, he becomes determined to find out why Bacha and Pillo died. A friend also gives Agnihotri a copy of Conan Doyle's second Sherlock Holmes novel, The Sign of the Four, from which he often draws inspiration. March fills the story with finely developed characters, particularly Agnihotri, who proves a zealous investigator. She also presents an authentic view of India under British rule while exploring the challenges faced by a character of mixed race. The heartfelt ending leaves plenty of room for a sequel. Readers won't be surprised this won the Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Award.