Tuesday 22 August 2023

Death of a Lesser God by Vaseem Khan #DeathofaLesserGod @VaseemKhanUK @HodderBooks #MalabarHouse #BookReview


In the fourth rip-roaring thriller in the award-winning Malabar House series, Persis and Archie travel to the old colonial capital of Calcutta, where they collide head-on with the prejudices and bloody politics of an era engulfed in flame.

Can a white man receive justice in post-colonial India?

Bombay, 1950

James Whitby, sentenced to death for the murder of prominent lawyer and former Quit India activist Fareed Mazumdar, is less than two weeks from a date with the gallows. In a last-ditch attempt to save his son, Whitby's father forces a new investigation into the killing.

The investigation leads Inspector Persis Wadia of the Bombay Police to the old colonial capital of Calcutta, where, with the help of Scotland Yard criminalist Archie Blackfinch, she uncovers a possible link to a second case, the brutal murder of an African-American G.I. during the Calcutta Killings of 1946.

Are the cases connected? And if Whitby didn't murder Mazumdar, then who did?

Death of a Lesser God by Vaseem Khan was published in hardback on 10 August 2023 by Hodder, and is the fourth in the Malabar House series. My thanks to the author and publisher who sent my copy for review. 

What I really love about historical fiction is that I always feel as though I've learned something, and Vaseem Khan really does educate his readers in this series. It is a tightly woven crime thriller, splattered with some laugh out loud humour, populated by characters who are vibrant and wonderfully portrayed whilst also being so informing. His research is faultless, and for anyone who would like to know more about this period in history, you can't go far wrong with this series, especially if you love crime fiction too. 

Inspector Persis Wadia is very well known in Bombay, the first female inspector in the police, and this is especially noteworthy given the attitude of most men towards women in the country. She's bright and determined, she takes risks and never gives up on her convictions, certainly a force to be reckoned with and able to give most men a good run for her money. In Death of a Lesser God, she has a new sidekick, another female; Seema. Seema is a young, impressionable woman who has had a tough life, but sees Persis as a role model and someone to aspire to, despite the fact that she's led into some very dangerous situations whilst accompanying her to Calcutta. 

Persis is asked to re-investigate a case that appears to be clear cut and finished. James Whitby, a white man, born in India and from a family who were very powerful during the English reign has been found guilty of murdering lawyer Fareed Mazumdar. Whitby's father insists that this verdict is investigated and Persis is the woman for the job. 

With the help of her old friend, Scotland Yard criminalist Archie Blackfinch, she is led to Calcutta where she discovers a potential link to another murder. An African-American GI was murdered a few years ago, and everything that Persis learns about that case makes her think that there's far more to it, and to Whitby's case too.

This is tension filled story, encompassing two major cities. Readers are treated to the sights, the sounds, and the smells of the city streets, along with discovering the corruption and determination of those in power to ensure that they stay there.  Persis is a fabulous character who readers will back all of the way and the story takes many twists and turns, adding surprises and shocks galore.
I adore Khan's descriptions of characters in the story, some of them made me laugh out loud, he creates such a visual image and seems to do it so easily. It's certainly a skill to bring characters to life so colourfully. 

This is a wonderful series. Entertaining, educating and thrilling. Highly recommended. 

Vaseem Khan is the author of two crime series set in India: the Baby Ganesh Agency series, and the
Malabar House historical crime novels.

His first book, The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra, was a Times bestseller and has been translated into 16 languages. Midnight at Malabar House won the CWA Historical Fiction Dagger in 2021 and was shortlisted for the Theakston's Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year.

Vaseem was born in London, but spent a decade working in India as a management consultant.

X / Twitter @VaseemKhanUK

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