Tuesday, May 21, 2019

The Satapur Moonstone (a Perveen Mistry mystery) by Sujata Massey

The Satapur Moonstone by Sujata Massey
  • ISBN-10: 1616959096 - Hardcover $26.95
  • Publisher: Soho Crime (May 14, 2019), 360 pages.
Review copy courtesy of Edelweiss and Amazon Vine Reviewers Program. 

The blurb:
India, 1922: It is rainy season in the lush, remote Sahyadri mountains, where the princely state of Satapur is tucked away. A curse seems to have fallen upon Satapur’s royal family, whose maharaja died of a sudden illness shortly before his teenage son was struck down in a tragic hunting accident. The state is now ruled by an agent of the British Raj on behalf of Satapur’s two maharanis, the dowager queen and her daughter-in-law.
The royal ladies are in a dispute over the education of the young crown prince, and a lawyer’s counsel is required. However, the maharanis live in purdah and do not speak to men. Just one person can help them: Perveen Mistry, Bombay’s only female lawyer. Perveen is determined to bring peace to the royal house and make a sound recommendation for the young prince’s future, but she arrives to find that the Satapur palace is full of cold-blooded power plays and ancient vendettas. Too late, she realizes she has walked into a trap. But whose? And how can she protect the royal children from the palace’s deadly curse?

I've read Sujata Massey's Rei Shimura mysteries and loved them. So, I was excited to meet her latest heroine Perveen Mistry.  The mysteries are set in the 1920s, during the British Raj period.

Perveen Mistry is wealthy, connected, Oxford educated and the first woman lawyer in Bombay. She's fortunate that her family has one of the top law firms in the country, but their established clients are wary of working with a woman.  Perveen finds a way to turn her "handicap" into a plus, she decides to represent wealthy upper caste women who observe purdah and consequently do not interact with men.  As the first woman solicitor in Bombay, Perveen's sex is a disadvantage, her wealth, connections, and intelligence help her navigate tricky waters.

Perveen's longtime friend from Oxford has moved to India where her father is a high level official in the British Raj.  Sir David offers Perveen a unique commission - to represent the British's Kolhapur Agency which has authority over 25 princely and feudal states and help to adjudicate conflict between two royal women in a northern princely state.  Two maharajahs have died recently and the current maharajah is a child. The child's grandmother and mother have conflicting opinions on his education and they have reached out to Kolhapur Agency to help decide the matter.  

Perveen agrees to travel to Satapur and to meet with the British official and the Maharanis of Satapur.  Train, planaquin, and the visit to centuries old palaces fascinates Perveen and makes The Sarapur Moonstone a unique read.   The actual adventure comes with intrigue, tiger hunts, betrayal and characters that are easy to care about.  I found The Satapur Moonstone a delight and I'm looking forward to the next in the series!

About the Author:
Sujata Massey was born in England to parents from India and Germany, grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota, and lives in Baltimore, Maryland. She was a features reporter for the Baltimore Evening Sun before becoming a full-time novelist. Her novels have won the Agatha and Macavity awards and been finalists for the Edgar, Anthony, and Mary Higgins Clark prizes. The first Perveen Mistry novel, The Widows of Malabar Hill, was an international bestseller. Visit her website at sujatamassey.com.