Book Review: Murder in Old Bombay by Nev Marsh (2020)

Murder in Old Bombay is set in 19th-century Bombay. It follows Captain Jim Agnihotri, a young Anglo-Indian soldier recovering from a war injury sustained during the Afghan War. While in the hospital, Jim becomes interested in a high-profile case involving the death of two women who fell from the university clock tower in broad daylight.

Convinced that the women did not commit suicide, Jim is hired by Adi, the widower of one of the victims, to investigate the case. However, his investigation is met with resistance and danger as he uncovers dark secrets and hidden loyalties within the Framji family, who are connected to the case.

As he delves deeper into the investigation, Jim is joined by Lady Diana Framji, who is determined to find out what happened to her sisters. Despite the danger and obstacles they face, Jim and Diana are drawn to each other, creating a personal stake in the outcome of the case.

The story is based on a true event and provides a vivid portrayal of colonial India and the social and political tensions of the time. The novel was the winner of the Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Award.

Murder in Old Bombay is an atmospheric and vivid portrayal of colonial India, which might not be well known or well represented in historical mysteries. The engaging mystery plot and well-drawn characters bolster the vivid setting

Murder in Old Bombay is a historical mystery blends elements of Sherlock Holmes-style detective work with a richly detailed and nuanced portrayal of colonial India. The protagonist, Captain Jim Agnihotri, is an excellent homage to Holmes, with his deductive skills and a keen eye for detail. However, he has his own personality and flaws and never veers into a Holmes caricature. Captain Jim Agnihotri is someone that I am interested in following on other cases not because he is like Sherlock Holmes, but because he is driven by curiosity, a keen sense of justice, and is uncommonly kind to his fellow character

I would also like to remark on the complex and well-developed characters, particularly Lady Diana Framji, who is a strong and independent woman who is determined to find the truth about the women’s deaths. She is likeable, but firm which seems accurate to a woman of her social position. I am interested in how her story will develop in the series.

Flaws in Murder in Old Bombay include the very slow pace, with an overwhelming focus on detail that confuse or bore readers. However, these details make this a well-crafted and engaging historical mystery that offers a unique and insightful glimpse into a fascinating period in Indian history.

The Murder in Old Bombay is a fascinating deep dive into colonial India and the women who thrive or are crushed by the complex societal expectations that burden them. It’s a good mystery with likable and well-drawn protagonists that make me want to stay in their rich world. I can’t wait to read about their next adventure. If you want to read Murder in Old Bombay, you can get a copy from Amazon here.


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