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The Satapur Moonstone

The Satapur Moonstone, the second book in the Bombay Mystery series from Sujata Massey is very exciting to read, with so much to absorb the reader that it is a “hard to put down” book. The story has three major strands, all of which keep one engrossed.

We meet Perveen Mistry, Bombay’s first female lawyer again and the only practising female lawyer in India. We previously learned about her struggle to overcome adversity and study law at Oxford University. She is a devout Parsi woman who is devoted to her family and her principles. As a lawyer, she seeks always to find the truth and to speak the truth. Her talent is a sharp mind with an ability to placate people and assess the situation. The story is set in 1922 when the British ruled India, a presence which Perveen deeply resents. Her constant struggle is to convince the males that she meets that she has an intellect as strong or stronger than theirs.

The second aspect looks at the many and varied strands of Indian culture and religion. As people meet and become acquainted, the reader realises how many traditional customs are firmly in place. The social rankings and the servants are taken for granted, as is the corruption. The wealth of the Maharaja is awesome and the divisions between religions shows why a common collection of people cannot come to a consensus. Fascinating!

The third strand of the book deals with the storyline.  Perveen has been asked to gather information for the English Governing body. A Maharaja who is ten years old lives with his mother and sister in a Royal Palace. His Grandmother, who lives in the adjoining Palace, is in bitter dispute over the boy’s education. She wants the boy to be educated in India, and the mother wishes him to go to England. The boy’s father died, as did his older brother and Perveen feels there is a murderer responsible.

Having been asked to visit the palace to report and gather information, while she was there an attempt was made to poison her, which then made it crucial she find the person responsible for wishing the Maharaja dead.

The weaving together of these three strands, and the personality of Perveen make for a truly interesting read. Her courage and honesty do not come without fear and mixed feelings. Her resentment towards the British governing body is clear, but something she must deal with in the line of her work. An engrossing read.

Author Sujata Massey
Publisher Allen and Unwin
ISBN 9781760529420
Distributor Allen and Unwin
Released May 2020