Monday, July 18, 2022

The Bangalore Detectives Club by Harini Nagendra

 

First Line: Mrs. Kaveri Murthy pulled out her oldest sari, nine yards of checked cotton in dark brown.

When spirited, intelligent Kaveri moved to Bangalore to marry handsome young doctor Ramu Murthy, she believed she had settled down to a quiet life of learning new recipes for her husband and trying to please her chronically displeased mother-in-law. But all that changed when she and Ramu attended a fancy dinner at the Century Club.

Escaping to the garden for some peace and quiet, Kaveri sees an altercation and, half an hour later, the garden is a murder scene.

When a vulnerable woman becomes the main suspect, Kaveri is determined to save her, so she begins conducting her own investigation with the help of Ramu and her neighbor Ooma Aunty. This investigation of hers will lead her to all sorts of different people and places, and to the realization that sleuthing in a sari isn't as hard as she thought it would be.

~

Even though I deduced the killer's identity early on, I found The Bangalore Detectives Club to be a thoroughly delightful read, and Soneela Nankani's narration was perfect. (Just enough of an accent for the pronunciation of names and to bring a true feeling of India to the story without causing any auditory confusion.)

Kaveri and her husband Ramu represent the burgeoning new India of the 1920s when Gandhi's fight for independence is taking root and British colonialism is waning. As Kaveri investigates the murder of the man in the Century Club garden, she's taken to one section of Bangalore after another and meets with people from all walks of life. Although her husband Ramu isn't old-fashioned in the way he treats her, Kaveri still manages to get to a neighborhood or two that makes him worry for her safety. These travels of hers not only further the investigation, but they allow readers to experience Indian culture which is something I always appreciate.

One instance of Indian culture in 1921 made me smile. If a person wanted milk delivered, the cow came to their house to be milked. Nothing like being able to get it straight from the source, eh? Harini Nagendra does an excellent job of showing readers both the old and the new. Ooma Aunty, an older woman who is Kaveri's neighbor, has lived all her life under the restrictions of the old ways, but she's willing (and wants) to learn the new. On the other hand, Kaveri's mother-in-law sounds like the stereotypical evil dragon woman who finds fault even while she's sleeping. Fortunately for me, the woman was out of town caring for a sick relative, and I didn't have to put up with her. I do have to admit that I'm not looking forward to meeting her. I wonder if Nagendra can give her an endless supply of out-of-town sick relatives to nurse?

The comparisons to Alexander McCall Smith are good ones. There's an authenticity and a joyfulness to this book that make it a delight to read, especially in audiobook format, and I'm certainly looking forward to seeing Kaveri and Ramu again.

The Bangalore Detectives Club by Harini Nagendra
Narrator: Soneela Nankani
ASIN: B09V72739R
Blackstone Publishing © 2022
Audiobook. 9 hours, 16 minutes.
 
Historical Mystery, #1 Bangalore Detectives Club mystery
Rating: A
Source: Purchased from Audible.

14 comments:

  1. Oh, my! This has just gone right onto my wish list, Cathy! I love the setting, and it's nice to have a solid, engaging mystery that's not overly gritty and gory (need a break from that at the moment). And it sounds as though the book has a great sense of setting and local culture, too. Yup, definitely going to shove some space into the wish list for this one!

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  2. What a lovely review. I am intrigued.

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    1. It's such an enjoyable read, and the perfect break from grittier fare.

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  3. Kaveri sounds like such a great character! Between her and the Bangalore setting I think I would really like this one. :)

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  4. Oooh, I like the sound of this one! Adding it to my TBR...

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    1. I think you'd really enjoy it, Gretchen.

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  5. I think I would like this one too. Our mystery group here will be discussing The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey next month. I love that series. And I'm planning on reading Nev March's two books soon. Both those series are in the same time period as this one. As to the mother-in-law, I used to work with someone who was Indian and her mother-in-law back in India sounded the same as the one you mentioned here. She'd go on vacation with her husband to visit his parents and have to spend her whole time there cleaning and doing the MIL's bidding. She'd come home to rest. LOL

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    1. I just received mixed news from Harini Nagendra. It appears that Kaveri's MIL has run out of sick relatives to nurse and will be in Bangalore for the next book. Even though I can do without Darling MIL, it will be interesting to see how Kaveri deals with her. (And you know whose side I'm on! LOL)

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  6. Looks good. Am waiting for library reserve.

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    1. It fits in very well with books written about the same time period in India-- Sujata Massey and Vaseem Khan, for example. It is a tad more light-hearted, though. (Which can be a very good thing.)

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  7. Can't wait to get it. I have to read Vaseem Khan's books, too. And then there is Nev March whom I saw with Sujata Massey at the PP.

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