Book Review: Midnight at Malabar House by Vaseem Khan (2020)

Midnight at Malabar House is a mystery novel by Vaseem Khan, set in 1950s post-independence India. The story follows the investigation of a murder case by a female police officer, Persis Wadia.

The novel begins with the murder of a wealthy Englishman, Sir James Herriot, in his home in Malabar Hill, Mumbai. Persis Wadia, who is the only female police officer in the department, is assigned to the case. Persis, who is of Parsi heritage, is determined to prove herself and overcome the sexism and racism prevalent in her department.

As Persis begins to investigate the murder, she discovers that the victim had many enemies, including his own family members, business associates, and even political figures. Persis also discovers that there is more to Sir James Herriot than meets the eye, including his involvement in the Indian independence movement and a secret relationship with an Indian woman.

As Persis delves deeper into the case, she is met with resistance from her colleagues, who try to discredit her and sabotage her investigation. Despite this, Persis perseveres and eventually uncovers the truth behind the murder, which involves political intrigue, personal vendettas, and long-held secrets.

The novel also explores the themes of colonialism, post-independence India, and the struggles of women and minorities in a male-dominated society. Midnight at Malabar House is a gripping and thought-provoking mystery that offers a glimpse into a fascinating period of Indian history.

Midnight at Malabar House is a fascinating and engaging mystery novel that offers a glimpse into post-independence India’s social and political landscape. Vaseem Khan has created a strong female protagonist in Persis Wadia, who is not only a skilled detective but also a trailblazer in a male-dominated profession.

The investigation is multi-layered and complex, with a wide cast of characters that are all connected to the victim in some way. The historical setting of the novel is also well-researched and adds depth and richness to the story.

One of the strengths of the novel is its exploration of themes such as colonialism, identity, and discrimination. Persis Wadia’s struggles against sexism and racism within the police department add a layer of realism and relevance to the story that resonates with readers today. The novel also examines the complexities of relationships between people of different races and classes, and the lingering effects of colonialism on Indian society.

Midnight at Malabar House is a captivating and thought-provoking novel that seamlessly blends mystery and historical fiction. The novel’s strong characters, intricate plot, and rich historical setting make it a must-read for fans of the genre and anyone interested in post-independence India. You can read this impressive debut mystery from Amazon here.


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