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The Widows of Malabar Hill

by Sujata Massey

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Perveen Mistry (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
7124623,058 (3.85)50
"Introducing an extraordinary female lawyer-sleuth in a new historical series set in 1920s Bombay. Perveen Mistry, the daughter of a respected Zoroastrian family, has just joined her father's law firm, becoming one of the first female lawyers in India. Armed with a law degree from Oxford, Perveen also has a tragic personal history that makes her especially devoted to championing and protecting women's legal rights. Mistry Law has been appointed to execute the will of Mr. Omar Farid, a wealthy Muslim mill owner who has left three widows behind. But as Perveen is going through the paperwork, she notices something strange: all three of the wives have signed over their full inheritance to a charity. What will they live on if they forfeit what their husband left them? Perveen is suspicious, especially since one of the widows has signed her form with an X--meaning she probably couldn't even read the document. The Farid widows live in full purdah--in strict seclusion, never leaving the women's quarters or speaking to any men. Are they being taken advantage of by an unscrupulous guardian? Perveen tries to investigate, and realizes her instincts about the will were correct when tensions escalate to murder. Now it is her responsibility to figure out what really happened on Malabar Hill, and to ensure that no innocent women or children are in further danger."--… (more)
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English (44)  Italian (1)  All languages (45)
Showing 1-5 of 44 (next | show all)
What a great start to a series. There characters and setting are super interesting. There was a lot of (necessary) character introduction in this volume, but I have no doubt it is kicking off what is sure to be a spectacular series. I'm looking forward to the next one! ( )
  Chris.Bulin | Oct 1, 2020 |
A MURDER AT MALABAR HILL introduces Miss Perveen Mistry, a young lawyer-turned-sleuth in 1920's Bombay. This novel is the winner of (amongst other awards), the 2019 Mary Higgins Clark Award, the 2019 Lefty Award for Best Historical novel and the 2018 Agatha Award for Best Historical Novel. It is, needless to say, from the cosier side of the genre equation.

The debut novel in a series, a lot of focus in this outing is on setting up the character and experience of Perveen Mistry. She's India's first female solicitor, a young woman in her mid twenties, working alongside her much respected father.

The timelines of the story are set in two particular periods of Mistry's life, a recent historical one containing a lot of personal information about her family, her time as a student at Oxford University, and her short-lived marriage. The current timeline focuses on a murder that has occurred in Malabar Hill, an upmarket neighbourhood in Bombay, in the household of three Muslim widows. After their husband, Omar Farid, died, his wives - Razia, Sakina and Mumtaz and their children live in Purdah (secluded life), with all external interactions controlled by their household agent, Mr Mukri. Mistry is tasked with finalising Farid's estate, in the process unearthing some oddities, that, because she's female she can discuss with the wives. After her visit, Mukri is murdered, and Mistry becomes increasingly worried about the fate of the widows themselves.

The whos and whys of the murder are not particularly tricky to work out pretty early on however, and this is definitely not a novel for those that prefer fast paced, intricately plotted stories. There is a lot of ancillary in A MURDER AT MALABAR HILL, some of which is interesting - the various religious beliefs, and how the communities function, and many of their cultural practices.

Fans of the cosier style of slower paced, densely packed novels could find this particularly rewarding reading. It's a period of time and place that's not much written about in crime fiction, and the female perspective, particularly that of a young professional woman at a time when women did not do these sorts of jobs, will appeal to many readers.

https://www.austcrimefiction.org/review/murder-malabar-hill-sujata-massey ( )
  austcrimefiction | Aug 21, 2020 |
This was a very engaging mystery, for a variety of reasons. The story takes place in 1920's India, featuring Perveen Mistry, an independent young woman who aspires to be the first female lawyer in Bombay. I learned so much about Indian culture as the plot unwound - how women were treated, the lack of justice for women both married and single, transportation, inheritance, respect, food, manners, superstitions, protocols - it was fascinating. The novel shifts back and forth between years, as Perveen slowly accumulates information that will give her the evidence she needs to assist the widows. When a murder takes place and a young girl disappears, and then Perveen is endangered, I was on the edge of my seat. This was an entertaining and satisfying novel. I'm looking forward to reading the second book about Perveen, "The Satapur Moonstone." ( )
  PhyllisReads | Aug 11, 2020 |
This was a very engaging mystery, for a variety of reasons. The story takes place in 1920's India, featuring Perveen Mistry, an independent young woman who aspires to be the first female lawyer in Bombay. I learned so much about Indian culture as the plot unwound - how women were treated, the lack of justice for women both married and single, transportation, inheritance, respect, food, manners, superstitions, protocols - it was fascinating. The novel shifts back and forth between years, as Perveen slowly accumulates information that will give her the evidence she needs to assist the widows. When a murder takes place and a young girl disappears, and then Perveen is endangered, I was on the edge of my seat. This was an entertaining and satisfying novel. I'm looking forward to reading the second book about Perveen, "The Satapur Moonstone." ( )
  PhyllisReads | Aug 11, 2020 |
I really enjoyed the historical and cultural aspects of this book. I also found the characters very engaging and Perveen's personal story enlightening as to women in that culture. In my mind the mystery was not a central part of the story. ( )
  carolfoisset | Aug 9, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 44 (next | show all)
The Widows of Malabar Hill is wholly satisfying..Perveen, daughter of an established Zoroastrian family in Bombay, works alongside her father, Jamshedji Mistry, a progressive man whose lifelong dream has been to have his daughter work with him at the family law firm. Why he wants this for her is one of the most heartwarming aspects of the novel, and is slowly revealed along with many other details that make this family one I plan to follow through as many storylines as possible.... Her tale is one that is just as absorbing as the murder mystery and has a quiet power all its own. Each thread is carefully paced; Massey clearly knows just what she's doing, which is giving readers both a captivating whodunit and a lasting base for more books featuring this same cast of characters. Massey is also making a case for gender equality, religious tolerance and racial harmony and it's a lovely thing that she does so with such understated persistence..And, happily, although the denouement is wholly satisfying, there is much left unsaid, particularly about some of the supporting cast members
 

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Massey, Sujataprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Agro, JanineDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Davidson, AndrewCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nankani, SoneelaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schwartzberg, PhilipInterior mapssecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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For Karin and Bharat Parekh,
who introduced me to Bombay
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On the morning Perveen saw the stranger, they’d almost collided.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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"Introducing an extraordinary female lawyer-sleuth in a new historical series set in 1920s Bombay. Perveen Mistry, the daughter of a respected Zoroastrian family, has just joined her father's law firm, becoming one of the first female lawyers in India. Armed with a law degree from Oxford, Perveen also has a tragic personal history that makes her especially devoted to championing and protecting women's legal rights. Mistry Law has been appointed to execute the will of Mr. Omar Farid, a wealthy Muslim mill owner who has left three widows behind. But as Perveen is going through the paperwork, she notices something strange: all three of the wives have signed over their full inheritance to a charity. What will they live on if they forfeit what their husband left them? Perveen is suspicious, especially since one of the widows has signed her form with an X--meaning she probably couldn't even read the document. The Farid widows live in full purdah--in strict seclusion, never leaving the women's quarters or speaking to any men. Are they being taken advantage of by an unscrupulous guardian? Perveen tries to investigate, and realizes her instincts about the will were correct when tensions escalate to murder. Now it is her responsibility to figure out what really happened on Malabar Hill, and to ensure that no innocent women or children are in further danger."--

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