Monday, February 21, 2011

Readin': Two Books by Tarquin Hall

I've recently finished two books by Tarquin Hall, The Case of the Missing Servant, and The Case of the Man Who Died Laughing.The books are mysteries and they share a protagonist, Mr. Vish Puri, founder and managing director of Most Private Investigators Ltd. The stories are set in India. Mr. Puri lives in Delhi, actually what was once a rural suburb that has been swallowed up by the city as it expanded.

Vish Puri, as a private investigator spends most of his time on marriage cases. In India with all its arranged marriages, there is a need, as the society expands, for someone to be able to vet a possible marriage partner. In the past when village life was slower and everyone known, it was easier for families to do it on their own. Now that things have expanded and mixed to a great degree, that is no longer possible. Vish Puri serves that need.

Each of the books sets up a devilishly deceptive case well beyond the standard matrimonial investigation. In each Mr. Puri makes use of the many operatives that he has working for him. They all have interesting nicknames that he has given them; Tubelight, Facecream, Flush, Handbrake, and Door Stop (the lazy office boy).

The country of India and its inhabitants are as much a character in the stories as anything else and it all rings very true. Mr. Puri is of Punjab descent and I am beginning, now that I have finished the second book, to be able to read without constant reference to the glossary for the names of foods, rituals, and small common expressions. In fact, I now know a couple of swear words in Punjab!

In each book, Vish Puri is able to untangle what seems to be an impossibly difficult puzzle with persistence, a remarkable ability to disguise himself, his many operatives, and an extraordinary understanding of human nature. Each book is quite satisfying and stands on its own; no need to have read the first in order to enjoy the second.

The books are relatively recent. I hope that Tarquin Hall is hard at work on a third Vish Puri mystery, as I await it with eager anticipation. Let's hope that Vish has a long run as a character; I quite enjoy him.

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I'm currently 60 years old. I currently work as the learning management system specialist for American University of Madaba in Madaba, Jordan. I was originally certified as a high-school English teacher and taught school for 13 years (1 year of substituting, 1 year of 7th grade, 2 years of a combined 5th, 6th, 7th grade, 9 years of 8th grade). I've worked for hardware and software companies for the past 23 years doing training, training materials development, certification test development and other education related stuff. My wife and I have raised four children to adulthood; some of them live at home at the moment, but that won't last (they're too independent for that). We live at home with 2 Golden Retrievers, 2 black cats, a crazy cat, and, during the winter, 70,000 coho salmon.