First Line: I turned thirty in hospital, in a quiet, carbolic-scented ward with little to read but newspapers.
Retired from the British Army after injuries sustained in Afghanistan, Jim Agnihotri has no real idea of how to earn a living, although he would like to do something that relates to his literary hero, Sherlock Holmes. Initially hired at a newspaper to look into the "Crime of the Century," Agnihotri instead begins working for Adi Framji, the widower of one of the young women who fell from the university clock tower in broad daylight. The case intrigues Agnihotri, and Framji, a member of a rich Parsee family, has never believed that his wife and her sister committed suicide.
But in a land with so many divided loyalties, asking questions is dangerous, and a chain of events is triggered-- especially when Lady Diana Framji joins Agnihotri in the hunt for the truth.
Based on a true story, Murder in Old Bombay does bring the caste system and divided loyalties of India to life. Agnihotri, half Indian and half white, isn't fully accepted in either world. Suffering from PTSD, he does channel Sherlock Holmes in his ability to don disguises and gather information from various (sometimes warring) sources.
My favorite part of the book occurred when Agnihotri was on one of his fact-finding missions and wound up gathering a group of displaced children. If a child needed help, he simply could not turn that child away. Two of the children, in particular, shone brightly: the little girl Chutki, and the little boy Birju-- both of whom had the hearts of lions. Chutki's experiences really highlighted the problem of the caste system in India.