The Case of the Love Commandos by Tarquin Hall

The latest in the Vish Puri detective series, “The Case of the Love Commandos,” tackles head on issues which have been very much in the news here in India – namely inter-caste marriages and the lengths to which outraged parents will go to prevent such relationships, and impose their will on their children.

In this adventure, we do still get treated to much of the loveable and by now “classic” Vish Puri of Most Private Investigators Ltd – notably the pakoras and Mummy-ji – but this book is a little more serious in its theme than earlier books, as befits the subject matter.  When you meet the goons sent to beat up Ram, and when you find out about the sinister work being done at ICMB, knowing all along that many couples in India are persecuted for falling in love across caste lines, then the book’s significance becomes clear – introducing the Love Commandos to a wider public.

Including your reviewer.

I have no idea how I had missed this existence of this organization, but they very much exist and they appear to be doing sterling work.

The action in the novel takes us from Delhi to Lucknow to Agra to scruffy villages in Uttar Pradesh divided along caste lines, and even up to Jammu and the sacred shrine of Vaishno Devi, where Mummy-ji and Vish’s wife Rumpi have their own sleuthing adventure.  I enjoyed this section of the book, of course, but I felt that it didn’t add much to the main event – namely Vish’s race against time to find out who…oh, but wait, I mustn’t spoil the plot for you.

Tarquin Hall has an infallible eye and ear for India, and I applaud him for putting into words things that I have noticed but never fully registered after all these years, such as “the side-on hug commonly observed between Indian men and women” – perfect.

A good read, as ever with Mr Hall, and also informative. This goes beyond comedy.

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