THE CASE OF THE MAN WHO DIED LAUGHING by Tarquin Hall

The second book in what one hopes will be a long series of Vish Puri detective novels, showcases the author’s love and obvious affection for India, especially Delhi, and his eye for the wildly off-beat.

The man who died laughing really did.

At the Laughing Club on Rajpath.

And from this dazzling opening, the author takes us on a journey through Delhi, up to Rishikesh, back to Delhi and into the world of god-men and magicians, via that timeless Indian middle-class institution, a kitty party.

Tarquin Hall is at his best when observing the speech and mannerisms of middle-class India.  He has an infallible eye (and ear) for Delhi and her noisy, boisterous people. So well does he describe this world of aspiration and show, that you can feel those uncomfortable sofas at Mrs. Arora’s in GK II, during the fateful kitty party.

Vish Puri, India’s self-styled Most Private Investigator, sets out to solve a series of bizarre murders, while his long-suffering wife Rumpi and his formidable mother Mummy-ji turn super-sleuths as well, and solve their own crime in their own inimitable way.

The book is fun, sharply observed and a good read, though possibly not quite as focused as the excellent first novel, The Case of the Missing Servant.

One hopes to see more of Vish Puri’s eccentric team of employees in the sure-to-follow third novel, and perhaps a little less of the Puri’s rather tiresome in-laws.

The book is published by Hutchinson and costs Rs 550.

And, as ever, here’s the link to buy the book :

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