Review: The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey
Release Date: January 9, 2018 from Soho Press
Bombay, 1921: 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 legal education from Oxford, Perveen also has a tragic personal history that makes her especially devoted to championing and protecting women's rights.
Mistry Law is handling the will of Mr. Omar Farid, a wealthy Muslim mill owner who has left three widows behind. But as Perveen goes through the papers, she notices something strange: all three have signed over their inheritance to a charity. What will they live on if they forefeit what their husband left them? Perveen is suspicious.
The Farid widows live in purdah: 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. It's her responsibility to figure out what really happened on Malabar Hill, and to ensure that nobody is in further danger.
Let me start with a little backstory. In my intense planning for Book Expo (ahem...awesome blog post here), I found The Widows of Malabar Hill during my research and then reached out to the author with an email. After finding out when and where she was signing, I was first in line and when she signed my copy she was so sweet and lovely. I brought many, many books home from Book Expo (check it out here) but some didn't make the cut and some didn't make it in the reading schedule for months. The Widows of Malabar Hill fell into the later category. When I finally read it, I kissed my copy when I finished. (Yes, sometimes I kiss or hug my books when I finish them...if they're lucky) While all my book buddies have been falling in love with crime stories and mysteries over the last few years, I was like *meh*. I didn't know it, but it was Perveen Mistry who I'd been waiting for! And her parents! And her BFF Alice! I am recommending this book to all of those mystery lover bookish friends (I really couldn't figure out who the murderer was until the very end!) and to my American reader friends who are looking for a diverse read (set in Bombay/Calcutta, Indian female lawyer, and blending of multiple religions). I loved learning about another country's laws and customs (traditional and modern) and learning more about a fascinating culture which is often exoticized. The Widows of Malabar Hill is my first "must-read" for 2018! Do yourself a favor and grab this up immediately! Then send me a line to tell me how much you loved it, too! I am over here just tap dancing and twiddling my thumbs....anxiously anticipating the next installment in the Perveen Mistry mystery series!