I must admit I am a bit drawn away from my desk as I type this. Because when you finish a book about the most treacherous adventure(s) ever and your immediate surroundings reflect a state the exact opposite of what you’ve devoured, withdrawal symptoms are not a surprise. In which adventure was I then? Of Sujata Massey’s brilliantly penned The Satapur Moonstone, the second in the series of Perveen Mistry’s adventures. And I am here to tell you, yes you the ardent Agatha devourer, why this stunningly plotted mystery has to be your next read.
Smart, strong, feminist lawyer, anyone?
Battling sexism thrown in casually like everyday dal chawal is a strict no-no for our feminist heroine Perveen Mistry who takes her character from the first Indian woman to study law in Oxford, Cornelia Sorabji. Whether it is the high-ranking English officers spewing, “but women can’t be lawyers” or the maharajas trying to dissuade her from her mission, P.J Mistry gives them all a much-needed, healthy dose of feminism. My notebooks are drenched in Perveen’s sass now, men beware!
Every step is an adventure to behold
The royals are in danger and Perveen has her suspicious eyes sprawling all over the finely made Satapur palace ? mystery and adventure are woven like the tightest of friends you can imagine.
Did I mention dark jungles emulating our imaginations of screeching noises of animals and a looming fear of being eaten alive? Whether it is travelling in black jungles holding years of secrets (mortal and immortal) or investigating the royals all of whom have layers of codes beneath, adventure is the word you’ll search for in all your reads post Satapur.
Colonial India like you are living right in it
Circuit houses? Tick. Tall doorways opening to ornate mosaics on marble walls? Tick tick. Gilded portraits adorning palace walls? Tick tick tick. Massey knows how to construct palaces, houses, even Bombay (especially Bombay) as they were in colonial India with such precision that you forget all that is left now are remnants in sites bolstering our heritage pride and a Mumbai that still holds its dreaminess despite becoming shinier.
Some Agatha for your mysterious soul
Imagine who you were becoming sure of being a conspirator dying, mysterious deaths, ulterior interests, and the horrifying stories of a jungle that seems to close in on you. Whether it is the protagonist or the setting or the case of the royal danger, everything contributes to the subtly built mysterious setting of Satapur that only gets starker and delicious as you near the end.
The Satapur Moonstone can easily have a Bollywood version and I will not be surprised if it becomes a Box Office topper!
The drama never ends
Should it even? Massey sticks to it like it is holding her history, mystery, and adventure in a gripping knit but doesn’t let it overpower the mystery for you to even think of putting the book down. So yes there’s romance, the shy, unbelieving, a subtle head over heels kind; a blaring saas-bahu drama catching roots since well the saas-bahu were joined to each other; and a lot of build-up before you confirm your suspicions of solving the mystery before Massey (which is difficult since Massey crafts the suspense so well!).
So what I am saying is simple: if The Satapur Moonstone is not on your TBR, what are you waiting for yaar? Go grab a copy now!