BROTHERS IN BLOOD by Amer Anwar

This novel was a curious read for me.

I am British, but I live full time and long term in India.

The novel is about Brits – of Indian and Pakistani heritage – living in London.

So it was a case of “my” Asian people living in “my” British town, which definitely added an interesting twist.

The brothers of the title are 2 close childhood friends, Zaq and Jags, who are British, but of Pakistani and Sikh heritage, respectively.

There is not much to indicate the differences, to be honest. Zaq and Jags are 2 likeable blokes, good mates who happily eat and drink together, go to the pub together. And get caught up in the underworld of west London.

Zaq, who has a criminal record, is pressurised by his coarse bully of a boss to track down the latter’s daughter, Rita, who has gone missing. If Zaq doesn’t find Rita, his boss threatens to have him sent back to jail, a threat which constantly weighs on Zaq’s conscience and colours his judgment.

The hunt for Rita takes Zaq deeper and deeper into a world of violence, hatred, and more.

The London of “Brothers in Blood” is the London of Asian immigrants, who still speak to each other in Punjabi…which leads me to my first grouse. I can speak Hindi, so could get some of the references by extrapolation, but for non-Indian-language speakers, there was way too much Punjabi and no translation offered.

(Hey, I’ll add a caveat here. I read this book on my Kindle. Perhaps the print edition has a lexicon. But even so, we Kindle readers could have used one, too)

So, yes, the excessive use of Punjabi might be off-putting to some.

I found the endless road directions a tad too much.

Initially, the names of road, the motorway exits were good for local colour, but as the book progressed, at times it seemed as though we were reading the A-Z.

And being admittedly squeamish, I admit to skipping some of the more violent boxing scenes.

I think the book could have done with a little tighter editing. There are only so many f-words, so many detailed fights, so many trips down the motorway.

A few less wouldn’t have impacted the story.

But a good earthy, gripping read, showcasing a side of London unknown (I suspect) to many.

Recommended.

If you would like to buy the book & read it, here’s the relevant link. You all know what to do.

THE CASE OF THE MISSING SERVANT by Tarquin Hall

India finally has her own Precious Ramotswe.

Her own home-grown, uncomplicated, tell it as it is private detective.  Punjabi by nature, by appetite and by his larger than life personality.

Meet Vish Puri, resident of Gurgaon, chilli-grower, Sandown-cap-lover and solver of crimes in Delhi.

Vish Puri is a clever, intuitive detective, of that there is no doubt, but like all of us, he has his flaws.  He snacks unhealthily behind his wife’s back, resisting all attempts to lose his nickname “Chubby”.  And he tends to underestimate Mummy-ji, his formidable retired-headmistress-mother.

Tarquin Hall takes us on a murder hunt to Jaipur, via the portals of the Delhi Gymkhana Club, and through the roads and markets of Delhi.

From snooty memsahibs who have no idea of their servants’ surnames – “I never asked, Mr Puri. Why should I ? She was just a maidservant after all” – to desperately poor tribal villages in Jharkand, we follow Vish Puri and his crack team – Tubelight, Flush and the ever resourceful Facecream – as they set out to solve the death of Mary, the poor tribal whose surname wasn’t worth knowing.

Tarquin Hall has a delightful, infallible eye for modern Delhi life, with its aspirational wannabes, its floodlit golf courses, and with the clash between old and new money. The book is fun, a good read, and brings the life and language of Delhi to vivid, noisy, colourful life. You can almost taste those greasy chilli pakoras that India’s Most Private Detective so relishes.

The Case of the Missing Servant is published by Hutchinson and costs £11.99

Should you wish to order the book after reading this review (and how nice that would be) then simply click on the link below :