I can always tell when I genuinely love a book. I start to read it much slower—because I don’t want it to end. That is what unexpectedly happened to me while reading Murder in Old Bombay.
It’s 1892 in India. Retired Captain James Agnihotri has been invalided out of the British Calvary due to injuries sustained in battle. He reads a newspaper story about two women falling to their death from a library’s reading room balcony. Their husband and brother, Adi, insists they were not suicidal. But the police fail to find the true culprit. The Captain offers to investigate as a newly minted reporter. But Adi and his rich parents insist on hiring the Captain as their personal private investigator. And the game is afoot!
The above blurb sounds interesting enough but fails to describe this wonderful story. The Captain loves Sherlock Holmes. He uses the Holmes canon as his toolbox of how to investigate the women’s death. Soon enough, he disguises himself using method acting like Holmes. The Captain finds his Watson in Adi’s remaining sister, the beautiful Diana. Breaking away considerably from Holmes, the Captain and Diana begin to fall for each other despite her family’s discomfort at the Captain’s mixed race and different religion.
The smells, sounds, and people of several Indian cities make the reader fully immersed in the setting. The setting and era include much about skirmishes between England, the Indian-controlled princely states, and various local factions.
The combination of a complex mystery, comparisons with Holmes, full-bodied characters, a marvelous setting, a fish-out-of-water story, and a sweet mixed-couple romance make Murder in Old Bombay my favorite book of the year! It’s like Gone with the Wind without all the racism. It should appeal to a wide range of readers—historical fiction fans, mystery readers, Holmes addicts, and romance fans. It entranced me. 5 stars and a favorite!
Thanks to Minotaur Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.