Review: The Case of the Man Who Died Laughing by Tarquin Hall

The Case of the Man Who Died Laughing is the second published case of the Indian detective Vish Puri.

Early one Delhi morning a 20-foot vision of the Goddess Kali appears to a morning session of the therapeutic Laughing Club who then proceeds to strike one of their members dead before vanishing into thin air.

There is much to love about Hall’s quirky detective. The most immediate is the pet names he gives to his employees. He names them with wry mix of the jobs they do for him and their personality traits. For example, we have Hanbrake (his driver), Facecream (who works undercover), and Tubelight (as he spends most of his time in the dark).

But the cast doesn’t end there. It is truly a family affair with Puri’s mother getting herself involved in her own mystery and this time drags along Puri’s wife. There is a warmer feeling to this series because of the lively secondary characters which you don’t find in most detective novels.

Hall gives insight into Indian culture and beliefs as Puri sets out to disprove that a Goddess can actually manifested but this brings him into conflict with a Guru who has the ear of the Prime Minister. And Puri has then has another disturbing mystery to solve.

It’s fast-paced and it’s pleasurable watching Puri’s clue-hunting, bartering and sleuthing as he talks to all aspects of Indian society to get to the bottom of what actually happen.

Hall seems to be having fun not only with Puri’s quirky, but extremely effective, ways but also complicating his life with his Mother and Wife sticking their noses around the place in the hunt of clues of their own.

The cover quotes a reviewer calling, ‘Puri the Indian Poirot’ and but it’s not Poirot dropped into India it’s more a what if Porit was Indian, though Puri himself is always reference Holmes, though not always in a endearing way.

It has everything I love in a modern ‘cosy crime’ novel. A quirky cast of characters, mysteries which are actually mysterious and an investigation with entertaining twists and turns.

It’s really hard not to enjoy this book and I can’t wait to read The Case of the Deadly Butter Chicken.

Mini Review: The Case of the Missing Servant by Tarquin Hall (Arrow)

I’ve found my new favourite detective. This time they are from India in the guise of portly, persistent and unmistakably Punjabi, private detective Vish Puri.

The Case of the Missing Servant is our first introduction to this ‘Indian Poriot.’ An established detective, with an web of contracts and employees, Puri is very much a conductor and ring master, though even he has problems with an interfering mother. As an introduction it works well. Hall gives us several threads to follow. Not only do we have the ‘missing servant’ we also have assassination attempts, unsuitable suitors and other case name dropping.

The thing that Hall captures most is the colour. The characters are lively and background is vibrant. Good crime authors  present the solving of the crime in an engaging way but great ones also make their manor a character in its own right. I enjoyed seeing how Puri works. His employees make a great supporting cast. Their characters are all as different as the jobs they do, which makes their interactions with Puri delightful to read.

What’s different for me is that Puri has a loving and happy family life and after seeing his mother you can tell where Puri gets his nose from. It’s unusual to have such a happy detective and that makes The Case of the Missing Servant such a joy to read. Yes, the crime is serious and seriously handled but the nature of a cosy crime novel is that it isn’t disturbing. His  idiosyncratic ways make it fun.

As with Sherlock Holmes he names previous cases to wet our appetite for further adventures though there are no worries on that score with The Case of the Man who Died Laughing and The Case of the Deadly Butter Chicken already out and on my shelf waiting.